Refugee’s plea for compassion
BY MATT MALONEY
09 Jul, 2010 10:53 AM
AS the issue of asylum seekers looms large in the lead-up to this year’s federal election, one who knows the life of a displaced person of war has urged the public to remember each one of these people is a human being.
In Launceston yesterday to educate more than 800 students from three Northern schools on a life completely different from their own, Chaman Shah Nasiri related a frightening 2001 journey from Afghanistan to Australia at the hands of people smugglers and through offshore detention centres on Christmas Island and in Nauru.
Mr Nasiri reminded students that the debate over asylum seekers and border controls neglected lives.
Made an Australian citizen this year, he quoted his new national anthem, Advance Australia Fair: “We’ve boundless plains to share, with courage let us all combine”.
Mr Nasiri said more compassion needed to be brought to the asylum seeker debate.
“Since I’ve been here in Australia, refugees have always been used politically,” he said.
“When we got out of Nauru it was an election year and before that, we were being called blackmailers and being accused of throwing our children into the sea, which were lies.
“The number of refugees coming to Australia is 0.06 per cent of all those that are coming legally from overseas.
“(Australia) could be easily taking these people because these people are in desperate need. Others are coming for a better life with still the opportunity to live in a better country, we are coming for shelter.
“`It’s a very small number and the situation is that these people are coming from the war-torn countries of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, fleeing persecution and genocide.
“The day Julia Gillard took office, nine Hazaras were beheaded in central Afghanistan, in Uruzgan Province. That is the situation that we are fleeing.”
Sunday: Read about Charman Shah Nasiri’s journey from Afghanistan to Australia.
Pamela Curr Campaign Coordinator Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 12 Batman Street, Melbourne ph 0393266066 / 0417517075 FACT: Australia June 2010 -508now 542 CHILDREN IN DETENTION