By Hadi Zaher
As a former refugee, I can understand and share the concerns of the many Afghan asylum seekers currently facing deportation back to Afghanistan, the very country they had to flee from. This would send them into the hands of the very people responsible for much of the insecurity and threats to the lives and livelihoods of these asylum seekers.
It is unbelievable and preposterous.
The Australian public should particularly be concerned about this agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This equals an investment of trust into the authority and institution of the very person whose outreach and influence does not extend beyond his presidential palace and its immediate surroundings.
Karzai, the so-called mayor of Kabul, heads a mafia of warlords and drug cartels who, over the last decade, have accumulated millions, if not billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money in their personal wealth. Instead of improving the conditions for the ordinary people, they have taken away their security, hopes and any remaining aspirations.
Karzai’s deputies have bloodstained hands, and are responsible for war crimes as documented in Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International Reports. His brother runs a narcotics empire that stretches to cartels in Mexico. Another brother’s abuse of funds and shares recently ran Kabul Bank into bankruptcy as he lay sunbathing in his villa on Dubai’s private islands.
Last but not least,, Karzai came to power after a presidential election marred by large-scale fraud, irregularities and violence — fraud documented and reported by the UN as well as international observers. These are only a few of the characteristics of the people into whose hands Australia will be handing over defenceless and now voiceless refugees.
PM Julia Gillard and immigration minister Chris Bowen will eagerly cut a deal with Karzai, return refugees to harm’s way and to the likelihood of death. In 2009 alone, of the 2412 UN-documented civilian casualties, two thirds died at the hands of the Taliban-led insurgency and a third at the hands of US-led military forces.
2010 has been worse for civilians. In the first six months alone, the UN has documented over 3268 civilian deaths. Australian forces can train militias but there appears to be little concern for those without arms, without a militia, and caught between a rock and a hard place. It can only get worse.
It might not mean much to the immigration department but it takes only a little bit of common sense to see what could happen to “a plane load” of human beings ruined by decades of conflict, threatened by bloodstained hands, with no place to call home and now, nowhere to go to. It’s a disgrace.