Shining a light on a disgraceful policy after the death of Ahmad Ali Jafari

Posted on June 22, 2013


Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Centre writes powerfully about Australia’s shameful treatment of asylum seekers . A poignant and potent tribute to the life of Ahmad Ali Jafari and his courage.  Something our gutless governments don’t and never will have.  Vale Ahmad Ali Jafari. Rest in peace.
Ahmad Ali Jafari died last night aged 26.
At 10 years old his father was taken by the Taliban never to return and presumed killed.  His mother then packed up her 5 children and what she could carry and took off to Quetta in Pakistan, fearing that they would come back to kill her children.  In Quetta she died.

Ahmad Ali at age 18 years could see that young Hazaras around him were being killed daily, singled out because of their Hazara ethnicity.
He set off for the UK, travelling hidden under a truck to get into the UK. There he sought asylum as a refugee.
He was deported back to Kabul where he had no family and knew no one. He was scared, homeless and penniless.
He contacted his uncle in Quetta who advised him to come there and who helped him found a people smuggler to get him across the border and b
ack to his family.

Back in Quetta he found casual work, became engaged to be married and struggled with over a million other Hazaras to survive as refugees in Quetta.

The Taliban found him, beat him with the butts of their guns and stole his motor bike.  Fearing that he would be targetted again, he fled down the line to Indonesia and by boat to Australia.
These bare facts conceal a life of struggle, of witnessing violence, killings and beatings, of courage and endurance hanging on to the underneath of a lorry for hours to enter the UK, of courage and dignity a young man who engendered respect and affection in those who knew him. He died surrounded by SERCO guards and DIAC staff who thought he was” joking” as he lay on the ground with chest pain. Life is cheap in detention.

Christmas Island detention centre

Christmas Island detention centre

Ahmad Ali is among a group of around 150 Hazaras who have been victimised by this government desperate to prove that they can deport Hazaras in the belief that this will stop them coming. There have been three major cases which have unpicked the lack of fairness and justice in the way these men’s applications have been decided through the dodgy and then discontinued IMR system. This system reviewed departmental officers decisions that went from 99% approval rates to 30% at the wave of a Ministerial wand. This was transparently a political move to deter Hazaras from coming.

Ahmad Ali was doubly cursed in that he had two reviewers renowned for refusing all Hazara refugee applications. Men wept when they heard that they had been assigned to these reviewers.

Blount and Packer both found that this man was not a refugee even as they agree that there were no credibility problems with his story. Classic phrases state the death of his father at the hands of the Taliban was nothing to do with Ahmad Ali, that his beating by the Taliban was “just generalised violence”. In these ways Refugees are despatched. The fact that after being deported from the UK to Kabul
proved life threatening and required Ahmad Ali to flee again to Pakistan where he was an undocumented refugee.Right now the Australian government has sent Pashtun and Tajik agents into Afghan villages with DIAC photos of these men, to ask villagersto identify them. They have their histories and information about their claims and whereabouts which they are passing on to their enemies in Afghanistan. This is the final stage in a shameful policy.

Ahmad Ali should not have been in detention. He was there because a bureaucrat found on a computer someone with the same name on a police record in the UK. No proof, no evidence, no court under Australia’s mandatory detention laws, Ahmad Ali was picked up and locked up in Villawood over one year ago, on suspicion. Even when he proved his innocence and showed that the documentation was not his, he remained in detention because this is the way it is done in Australia.
No justice – no access to justice-once in detention even if by mistake , you sit there at the Minister’s pleasure.
Ahmad Ali is not alone. There are others in the

detention system on the same flawed grounds.  Ahmad Ali is now at peace – too young to die but maybe the only peace this brutal world would give him.

Pamela Curr
Campaign Coordinator
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
“AUSTRALIA. Built by boatpeople.”