Why Ali fled Afghanistan
On Monday night’s Q&A, Tony Abbott was asked about the recent wave of boat people, including Hazaras fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan. My ears pricked up, as I had recently been in Indonesia discussing the issue with the Jesuit Refugee Service there. At the end of one meeting, a 15-year-old Hazara named Ali came and told me his heart wrenching story.
Ali’s father was taken by the Talban, never to be seen again, and his mother has fled into Afghanistan with her children. Ali decided to flee, seeking security not just for himself but eventually for his mother and his siblings. He is presently stranded in Indonesia having spent all his money, hoping one day to reach Australia. Indonesia offers no solution to his plight.
Refugee backflip misses what matters
The Government’s decision to suspend the processing of future asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka raises many questions. As always when there are many possible points of discussion, it is important to ask what matters. In this case what matters is that asylum seekers find respect for their human dignity in ways consistent with Australia’s proper responsibilities and interests.
This decision does not respect the dignity of asylum seekers. One of the reasons given for the delay in processing is that it will deter others from coming by boat to seek asylum in Australia. The tired and brutal logic of deterrence involves inflicting avoidable suffering on an innocent group of people in order to send a message to others. It treats human beings as things, and is inherently lacking in respect.