Awful days ahead for refugees

Over the next few weeks hundreds of Afghan Hazaras in Darwin, Christmas Island and Villawood detention centres, are going to be refused visas on the grounds that Afghanistan is "evolving" and that it is safe to return. The evidence of persecution and the stories of fear of return have not changed in the past month.
The Hazaras were being granted refugee visas at the rate of 100% until now. What has changed are politics in Australia and the looming election.

This is the most blatant example of the politicisation of refugee decision making. At a word from the Prime Minister the decisions from Immigration officials have become negative.

Now the proof of scars on bodies, the evidence of family members killed and the threats from Taliban are not enough to warrant protection.

So far only single men are being targetted. They have not yet started on the families and children or the unaccompanied minors (teenagers without any family). These young teenagers who have seen more violence and horror in their lives than we will ever know are very vulnerable. Some have seen their own fathers and brothers killed and have been sent by their mothers to survive.

The government has chosen the strongest first.

The UN is pulling its own staff out of Afghanistan because it is no longer safe to work there and has stated publicly that they can only operate in 50% of the country.

Human Rights Watch and every human rights agency reports on the growing violence and loss of civilian life. Only Australia is proclaiming that Afghanistan is improving. It would be laughable if the consequences were not so tragic.

We know that the results of these decisions will be misery, depression and worse.

We remember how the Howard government pulled the same cruel policy in 2002, telling all the Afghans to go home. Some left and others went on a hunger strike and dug symbolic graves in Woomera and lay in these graves in the hot sun.

Among those refused this time are some who were found to be refugees in 2000/ 2001 and who were given Temporary Protection Visas.

These men went back to save their families when Australia refused to allow them family reunion. They are back after attempts on their lives and this time have been refused. Abbott should note this failed policy which he wants to resurrect.

There are no photos of this awful time becasue the Howard/ Ruddock regime were masterful in ensuring that "no humanising images" were seen.

Your support will be needed in the coming months as asylum seekers become political footballs kicked back and forth between Liberal and Labor politicians.

Pamela Curr
Campaign Coordinator
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre