Even when Alzheimer’s had stolen her ability to know who we were, my mother could still surprise and delight when those pesky brain messages got it right. On a visit towards the end, as we walked into the sitting room full of elderly residents, she called out suddenly to all “look here are my darling girls.” Her love for the four of us endured even when she no longer knew us by name. As my brother said her “thinking” brain had gone but her “feeling” brain stayed. A mother’s love is a mighty powerful force.
This past week I have met mothers who have demonstrated this powerful love for their children by making decisions and taking risks which saved their lives. They will not be getting flowers and breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day in the Broadmeadows camp but they have surely earned the love and respect of their children. Sara, a woman from Syria took her three children from the relentless bombing in Damascus across the world to safety. With her younger sister and her father she hid in rooms in Indonesia for months with her baby, four year old boy and six year old daughter who has severe autism and cannot speak.
They travelled by boat for three days and three nights through rough seas sitting up in a tiny fishing boat to Christmas Island. The children vomited continually and the little girl was confused and terrorised by the boat and the dark seas. Any Australian parent of a child with autism can imagine how hard it was for this young mother to keep her safe and comforted in a crowded boat. Now they are living in a donga (demountable caravan) in the detention camp at Broadmeadows with 220 other families hoping for release. Between a waking baby and a terrified autistic child this young mother has little sleep but her love for her children keeps her going.
Another mother made this journey by boat alone with her eight children aged from 18 years to 18 months and her frail eighty year old mother. Having fled the brutal persecution of the Taliban in Afghanistan, this mother has waited in Indonesia for ten years after fleeing Afghanistan. Five years ago the family was finally processed by UNHCR in Indonesia and recognised as refugees. They have been waiting for five years for resettlement. When her husband went missing she decided that she had to take her children from this precarious life where they had no future, no chance of schooling or a country to call home.
These are heroic women putting the lives of their children above all else and taking decisions not for the faint hearted. With no safe places to hide in their own countries they set off in search of safety and security. Sara and her family made it out of Syria just before the airport was closed. Australia only accepts refugees referred by UNHCR. As Palestinians they have no right to UNHCR access. Therefore they are not considered for resettlement even though their position in Syria is beyond desperate. With her mother and sister already in Australia it was the only choice they had to make a run for it.
There are no safe camps between Syria or Afghanistan and Australia for people to wait for an invitation. Hazaras who have fled Afghanistan to Quetta are being bombed and gunned down on the streets. Those who waited in Indonesia for the Australian Embassy to offer resettlement have waited in vain. Only 266 visas have been issued since August 13 last year when the “No Advantage” policy was introduced. Nineteen hundred Refugees are waiting for resettlement, with their positive Refugee determination from UNHCR. Others are no longer even trying to get a token from UNHCR for an interview.
As we think with love and care of our own mothers, let us not forget those many mothers in camps across Australia and offshore places whose children depend for survival on their strength and endurance. These mothers have no luxuries, dressed as they are in camp clothes, lining up for unfamiliar canteen food and trying to encourage their children to eat the same meals day after day. Their courage and gutsy determination has got them to safety in Australia but insecurity and uncertainty, living in camps with children is no mother’s paradise.
From Pamela Curr (Asylum Seeker and Resource Centre)
(Author a Hazara refugee now living in Australia)
I am invited today to talk about myself in particular and give a picture of Hazaras’ general plight in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran so that it gets clear why only these people from Afghanistan are vastly refugees around the world.
Before talking about Hazaras let me thank DASSAN group for its extraordinary work in support of refugees and asylum seekers including Hazaras who form considerable numbers of asylum seekers and refugees around the world. Undoubtedly strenuous efforts of DASSAN since it has begun its mission in supporting and helping refugees and asylum seekers have been so successful and fruitful. DASSAN and similar refugee advocate groups in other Australian States campaign in support of refugees and asylum rights’ in media and in the community put a real impact on Australian people’s mentality towards asylum seekers and also pressure on government to soften its refugee policy. I, personally, got much help by DASSAN when I was locked up in detention centre. A member of DASSAN, STEVE used to visit me inside the centre until I got released. Like me hundreds of asylum seekers got help and support from DASSAN inside and outside detention centres. Your goal and aim is sacred and humanitarian, your path is a right path and you are really making a difference and lending hand to those who really need a hand. Keep it up; there are many people inside detention centres who desperately need their voice to be heard. You are their voice.
It shows how great you are to get together and give your precious time to hear the voice of an oppressed and persecuted nation, Hazara. And its really appreciated that you would like to know who Hazaras are and why they leave their homes, families, relatives, ancient lands and risk their life to seek asylum.
Hazaras are originally all from Afghanistan. Afghanistan is Hazaras mother land. The Statue of Buddha in Bamiyan of Afghanistan which was built thousands of years ago has Hazaras’ feature. It clearly shows how Hazaras are long native in Afghanistan. But now Hazaras are dispersed in every corner of the world as refugees mainly in Pakistan and Iran due to oppression and cruelty of ruling ethnic groups. In 1890 the Pashtoon king of Afghanistan decided to wipe out Hazaras by massacring and committed brutal genocide and ethnic cleansing. In that sinister attempt his troops attacked on Hazara areas and people, 62 percent of Hazaras were killed by that King named Abdul-Rahman Khan. He mobilized Pashtoons ethnic group against Hazaras calling Hazaras infidel. In an edict to other nationalities in Afghanistan, the cruel king commanded to occupy Hazaras land and houses and distribute among themselves. They wanted to kill all Hazaras and usurp their lands. After this mass killing and genocide some of the Hazaras hid in the mountains and some could escape to Pakistan and Iran. Now the remnants of Hazaras from that barbaric cleansing live in the roughly mountains of Afghanistan some of them still in the caves in worst situation just to be save from oppression and killing. Although some of them could push their lives in the cities like Kabul and Ghazni cities again organized and systematic discrimination, trampling their due rights as citizens of that country and killing of them on the roads are done every day to compel them leave Afghanistan. Hazaras recognition and then targeting them is very easy as their feature is totally different to other ethnic groups in Afghanistan. After Taliban regime was ousted by American troops in 2001, for a couple of years Hazaras felt themselves relatively protected but later on when Taliban regrouped themselves they have been frequently blocking the roads joining Hazara areas to capital cities like Ghazni and Kabul and targeting them. Hundreds of innocent Hazaras are being taken out of their vehicles and buses and are being kidnapped, looted and killed every year. To sum up the situation of Hazaras in Afghanistan, I have to note that Hazaras are living in a very unstable and risky situation that their protection and security is heavily relied on American Troops. That’s why Hazaras are expecting the situation after 2014 when Foreign Troops end their mission in Afghanistan as a nightmare and maybe worse than Taliban time. Because the government is in close relationship with Taliban and Taiban have already warned Hazaras of being punished due to Hazaras welcome to American troops.
In Pakistan, since Hazaras settled in Pakistan a century ago, due to their hard working and high talent, they have contributed to the Pakistani community and served this country for a long time and fought for its independence. Quetta city of Pakistan is mainly built by Hazaras’ efforts and hard-working. Since 2001 that Taliban government toppled by Americans in Afghanistan, the Taliban fled from Afghanistan and regrouped themselves in Quetta of Pakistan which is a border city with Afghanistan. Since then, Taliban in Quetta along with other Pakistani Sunni extremists with slogan of their ancestor Abdul-Rahman khan which was wiping out Hazara Shias started to target Hazaras in Quetta of Pakistan where most of the Hazara refugees settled in. They started to target Hazaras political and religious leaders and then expanded to kill Hazaras indiscriminately every where they are seen around the city. Since 2001 thousands of men, women and children have been killed just because they were Hazaras and believe in Shia sect of Islam which is a moderate and non-violent interpretation of Islam. Leaders, passengers, shop keepers, businessmen, vendors and whoever looks like Hazaras who are easily distinguished from others in that city are targeted by shooting, bombing, suiciding and kidnapping. As the government backs them in their terrorist and sinister acts no one of the killers is arrested or tried. The last attack on Hazaras in the string of those killings was so horrific and inhuman and happened when I was in Quetta visiting my family. I saw the scene of the attack hours after it happened. More than a hundred Hazaras were killed in a twin bombing in a Hazara area called Alamdar Road. Blood of those innocent people reddened the road and city. Hundreds of families were in grief and sobbing was heard from everywhere in the city. Because the provincial government was itself behind this shocking and deadly attack didn’t even verbally condemn the bombings. Situation of Hazaras in Quetta today is worse than every other place in the world. Mass killing of Hazaras just because of their faith and ethnicity has become the every practice of terrorists and extremists in Quetta of Pakistan. Those Hazara, who can arrange a little money to make fake documents and pay for smugglers, have fled Pakistan to Iran, Arabic countries, European countries and a little portion to Australia. Those many others who can’t make it to flee have to stay there and wait for their deadly destiny. In brief, Hazaras in Pakistan, despite their sincere services to Pakistan since their settlement a century ago, have no protection; neither from the government nor from anywhere else. They are desperately burying their dead ones every day and no one hears their voice to give them a hand. When they take the risk of life coming to Australia they come just to save their lives but when they arrive here their fates are politicized and some are sent to offshore processing and some released to community without any right to work and sponsor their families. Today the UNHCR announced that Australia has breached its human rights obligation with sending asylum seekers to Manus Island with no processing system and awful facility condition.
In Iran, about a million Hazaras now legally and legally live in Iran with government not only doesn’t provide any protection in the workplaces and in the streets against gang groups looting and beating them, the government also daily cancel their residential permit cards and deport them to Afghanistan. Some of them have even fought for Iran against Iraq but the government hasn’t permitted them to stay in Iran. They are labours in hardest jobs yet with no protection and insurance. They hide and live, because if they are seen they will be deported. If they are beaten or looted by the thieves and gangs they have no right to ask police for help. Families don’t have the right to send their children to school. With little mistakes and little breaches of law, without trial they are straight sentenced to death. I went to Iran for work for a year and half and I experienced how bitter and oppressive life is in Iran. The situation in Iran for a Hazara is like you think your life is a slow, painful and long death.
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Thanks to all those who have made donations towards Christmas presents. Thanks also to Chilout for handling financial donations and for making the money available for Christmas gifts.
DASSAN volunteers have purchased and prepared gift packs for 178 Children. Gifts will be given out to each child along with Christmas messages of hope on Christmas Day.
Many people have contacted us over the past few days offering gifts for the children in detention. Unfortunately, due to the time needed for processing gifts at the detention centre we can not guarantee that these additional gifts will be given to the Children by Christmas. We are currently working out some way of getting additional gifts through to the children, so please be patient and we'll do what we can to help you with your gifts.THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY
Any further donations made via the Chilout Donations
page will be directed to the Advocacy for children in Detention.
For more information on donating to Chillout please read the information provided on their website. HERE
DASSAN has been receiving regular updates on the situation in Nauru. The situation is desperate! Hunger strikers are now at serious risk of death. Please read the letter below.
The Government and people of Australia
The last breaths of Omids life and his situation is being receipted by security guards staff. After having hunger strike of 46 days including four days of refusing water.
His body getting paralysed and the internal function of his body is going to be stop soon. He is in extreme stage of internal bleeding. He has let the security and medical staff to know that his death bring all of them to the court of justice. The Nauru hospital doctor staff had observed and analysis him. They found out that it’s late to treat him. They reject him to be admitting in hospital. They left him in tent in the hand of God.
Is this the only solution for him?
He has gone on strike for this long time for the sake of his freedom.
Are you approve of his death?
Hasn’t it got the time to take him back to Australia and treat him the same as those, who arrived after 13th august?
Is this the object of killing him to teach the others to stop the hunger strike?
No we commit that the death of Omid will drag more asylum seekers to choose the same way.
The bitter reality of Nauru’s detention centre will shock the world
Asylum seekers Nauru
Omid is now 45 days on hunger strike. He will die in the next few days.
Another man who has kidney failure was flown to a Brisbane hospital from Nauru.
There is a precedent for transferring the sick to hospital from off-shore.
WHY IS OMID NOT TRANSFERRED?
There is no precedent in Australia for blatantly watching a man die for political reasons.
Margaret Thatcher watched Bobby Sands Die in 1981.
The British treated the Irish with the same venom as many in Australia including our political leaders direct to asylum seekers.
Dont let them get away with it.
RING AND FAX and email the following NOW please .
List of Australian Politicians and their contact details. Please write to them or call them and let them know how you feel about the treatment of Asylum Seekers.
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(A brief reflection on some recent interactions between DIAC and Our
public, free, media outlet)
The Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC) demonstrated this week the measures it will take to try and control the information that comes out of detention centres. As Crikey reported yesterday, DIAC's chief spin doctor Sandi Logan has forced the ABC into an apology it should never have made
regarding a story that it aired last Saturday night about the points system in immigration detention. The story was accurate, DIAC was, well, let's just say playing with semantics. But the Department clearly saw an opportunity to try and silence a local journalist and used its, apparently not inconsiderable, clout to force the ABC into a grovelling and misguided apology. Though of course with a network of detention centres in which traumatised people are detained behind high fences and barbed wire, there is bound to be confusion from time to time about what exactly goes on inside. With the arbitrary rules about the use of crayons
and the ever-changing visitor procedures, it can be difficult to stay on top of all the rules and regulations in Serco & DIAC's private prisons. One way to avoid confusion about what happens in detention centres would be to let journalists and camera's inside. Allow journalists to meet with the six year old girl who has been locked up in the Darwin Airport Lodge for over 400 days
, or the desperate men detained elsewhere in Darwin who were found to be refugees months ago but remain in detention
while they await the outcome of protracted AFP investigations into minor or spurious incidents. If you know of something occuring inside detention that the public should be aware of please contact DASSAN
Many Rohingya people in exile including myself have struggle for democratization and the release of Political Prisoners in Burma. All of us hope that a day there will be Peace and Freedom. That day has come likely and Hope has come back for all. But soon, ethnic cleansing against defenceless unarmed Rohingya is recurred in Arakan and there is a huge misinformation on the situation.. It is very horror and well organized from the beginning that Curfew and Order are imposed on only Rohingya while Rakhine people are freely allowed to carry out various attacks, looting goods and cash even harden woods and pillars and torching fire at last after security forces opening fires into Rohingya houses and Rohingyans. In this manner, many of our family members and relatives were killed including my cousins and my mum and sister are still missing.. Because of we are dark, or muslim or just Rohingya. I don't know exactly. Despite politics, nationalities are not as important as the emergency. Nowadays in many local journal and online news, Rakhine- politicians, monks, historians and teachers are openly declaring that they could not share their lands, waters, foods and any resource for Rohingya, not anymore. Now, authority are replacing Rakhine people in Rohingya lands which were burnt down. High ranking authorities said that they don't want to see any Kala in the town and Rohingya or Bengali or Kala could not be owner of anything in Burma.
Now, day by day Rohingyas are dying and disappearing by hundred from continuous arbitrary arrest, brutal abuses, starvation and lack of medication. Their cattle and goats, farming lands and crops were already taken away by Rakhines while all Rohingya in Arakan are confined within their houses. They can't escape, they are trapped between the bullets of the authority and the knives of Rakhines. Rakhines are still chanting all over the town to cleans the remaining Rohingyans. Pl do anything to stop all the abuses and crimes made on the remaining Rohingyas people before we go all extinguished. 100,000 Rohingyas are homeless today while there is raining season in Burma. Burmese authority do not provide any aid nor assistance for homeless Rohingyans. Soon our ethnicity will be disappeared and similar form will be utilized for other minorities. Only your voice can change something for us. We need your voice just to at least save our people. Save the remaining Rohingyas on an humanitarian ground. Let them have food and water and medication and shelter.
Please find a way to save our remaining relatives, our Rohingya people on Your Highness. We need international communities' assistance, the authority will only be felt pressure by international communities. It is the moment given the racism in Arakan, so international help is the only situation for Rohingyas. Please help us. Thankfully, (author:Rohingya man in exile)
The last week has seen an outbreak of violence in the Arakan state of Burma. Racist and religious violence has been directed towards the Rohingyan ethnic group by members of the Rakhine ethnic group: http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/06/myanmars-minorities
Many asylum seekers in Darwin detention centres and refugees who have settled in the Darwin community are Rohingyan and the past week has been very hard for them as they have watched scenes of the violence on television and have not been able to contact family still in Burma.
Only 5 days ago Australia lifted sanctions formerly imposed on Burma. You can help by asking Foreign Minister Carr to condemn the failure of the Burmese authorities to stop the violence directed at Rohingyan people . Please phone his office on 02 6277 7500 or email him via this link http://aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Contact_Senator_or_Member?MPID=wx4
Letter to a Senator
Serco management in Darwin have recently implemented a policy of preventing members of the Darwin community from speaking to asylum seekers when those asylum seekers are in Darwin court rooms. I have a friend who has been involved in a court case for a number of weeks and he has been told and people who have attempted to speak to him have been told that in order to speak to him they must make a written request to Serco. This has occurred on at least 4 occasions. Visitor requests need to be provided to Serco in writing 24 hours in advance. Today I witnessed a Serco guard tell a lady to stop speaking to my friend when she was attempting to console him after being told his mother and sister were missing in Burma. They were standing outside a court room waiting for the proceedings to commence.
I have complained to DIAC and Serco before about this practice and did not receive a response. For a person from overseas who is going through the court process to be told that they cannot have friends near them when going through something this stressful is a disgrace and illustrates the complete lack of compassion and common sense that Serco management in Darwin have.
I highly doubt that Serco has any legislative authority to prevent an asylum seeker speaking to a friend outside of detention. When I last raised this with DIAC (see below), the next day Serco guards made a specific point of telling my friend that he was not to speak to any members of the community who had not been "authorised".
I do not blame the individual Serco guards who have been told to implement this policy but rather Serco management at the Darwin Airport Lodge who have instructed them to do this. This is the same management that have previously banned children from having crayons in detention and when members of the Darwin community gather outside to show support to asylum seekers responded by videotaping them. It is the same management that have presided over children attempting suicide and self harming in their rooms at the DAL.
Given all that my friend is currently going through I expect a number of people will approach him tomorrow to comfort him. I have copied in Serco and DIAC management to this email so that they may think about whether it is really necessary to police who he can and cannot speak to when he is outside of detention.
I invite you to discuss this with the Minister's office or with DIAC officials in other forums if you have the opportunity. You may like to ask what authority Serco have to do this and for what reason they are doing it.
The Member for Solomon, Natasha Griggs has criticised the practice of asylum seekers living in the community with members of the public. Ms Griggs has also blamed asylum seekers for the Territory's health problems and high rents. This is one Darwin resident's response:
Dear Ms Griggs,
As a voter in your electorate I was extremely disappointed to read your negative comment in your Gazette about Darwin residents being asked to house asylum-seekers in their homes.
For the past 3 months I have enjoyed having 2 young Kurdish men from Iran as my house guests. They are courteous, helpful in doing all they can to help in the house and yard, scrupulously clean, completely honest and trustworthy, and generally a pleasure to have around. I enjoy the Kurdish music they download and their sense of humour, and greatly admire their efforts to find work and to learn English. Both have now found paid employment.
I am not part of the homestay scheme and take no money for the arrangement.
When I was away they house-sat for me, and I came back to find everything in perfect order and my pets happy and well-cared for.
A distressing aspect is hear - gradually, as it comes out - their past history of persecution as stateless people in Iran and torture by police under Sharia law. As stateless Kurds they were never allowed any documentation, not even driving licences, which is why they arrive in Australia paperless. Not because they have thrown identity papers overboard.
Even more distressing for me as a retired psychologist is to observe the effect of long-term detention on them. Difficulty in concentration, recurring nightmares, stress-induced high blood pressure, constant headaches and a battle with depression.
Long-term detention is the very worst preparation for their new life in Australia. Genuine refugees, which the great majority are found to be, come seeking freedom and justice and the right to work, not imprisonment and/or living on welfare. By causing them even further trauma by long-term detention, we are creating a quite unecessary need for expensive long-term mental health services on their release.
I strongly urge you to find out the truth for yourself from these people now
living in your electorate.
Many Australians are feeling powerless when we hear of the consequences and hardship caused by the indefinite detainment of children. We seldom know what action to take and can barely find the words to express our concerns for those who may be suffering as they desperately wait for Asylum in our country. The letter below which was recently shared with DASSAN puts into words a message of hope which I am sure many of us would echo wholeheartedly!
A LETTER OF SUPPORT FROM A FRIEND 25/04/12
Dear Friends in Darwin Detention Centers and Asylum Seekers throughout Australia
I want you to know that there are people all across this Land who admired your
courage in trying to find a safe place, by coming to Australia. We are honored by the
fact that you chose to come to our land.
I have met some of you in Darwin, and I know how important it is for you to be
able to have a new life in our beautiful country and I pray that one day that wish will
I know many of you are able to go to school and study hard and do your homework.
You make your family and friends very proud of you and delighted at the good
reports you receive from your teachers...
I know also it is so hard to wait and it is hard for the people and the family who may
have come with you to wait to gain refugee status or community detention or any
sign of hope that soon you will be able to stay and take your place in our
But I know you have courage and are doing your best to wait patiently. As you wait
you are preparing yourself and your family to begin a new life in Australia one day.
I am just one small voice, but there are many of us who raise our voices every time
we can to help to set you free of Detention and to welcome you into the Community.
We pray that you will not lose heart while you wait; that you will do everything you
can to continue to grow into wonderful young person you are meant to be; that you
will still keep the courage you had when you made your long voyage to our Land;
that you will keep that hopeful spirit alive in your family and amongst your friends
as you wait in Detention;
that you hold on to the believe that you will one day soon join us and our families,
and live with us as Australian citizens in this land of ours.
That you will not forget that there are many people who love you and welcome you
to our country, where one day you will welcome others who come seeking safety.
May the Good Lord Bless you and keep you safe and well.
Name of Author removed for privacy.