Azaranica is a non-biased news aggregator on Hazaras. The main aim is to promote understanding and respect for cultural identities by highlighting the realities they face on daily basis...Hazaras have been the victim of active persecution and discrimination and one of the reasons among many has been the lack of information, awareness, and disinformation.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Afghan opposition to forced asylum seeker returns

Updated April 18, 2011 14:23:29

A senior Afghan MP has rejected the Australian Government's plans to forcibly return failed Afghan asylum seekers.

Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq has called on the Afghan government to scrap an agreement with Australia to allow deportations. A former Afghan government official involved in the agreement says there's no possibility of involuntary returns within the next two years.

Reporter: Sally Sara, Afghanistan correspondent

SALLY SARA: High profile member of the Afghan Parliament, Al Hajji Mohammad Mohaqiq, has returned from an official visit to Australia with a strong message.

He wants the Afghan government to scrap a deal allowing the involuntary return of failed Afghan asylum seekers.

(Al Hajji Mohammad Mohaqiq speaking)

He says if the Australians try to send back these people, of course the government should change their decision.

Mr Mohaqiq is a powerful former militia leader, who represents members of Afghanistan's ethnic Hazara community.

Hazaras make up the majority of Afghan asylum seekers in Australian immigration detention.

Mr Mohaqiq raised some of his concerns during his visit to Australia and met Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Parliamentary Secretary Senator Kate Lundy.

(Al Hajji Mohammad Mohaqiq speaking)

He says he doesn't agree with forcing people to return and the friends he met in Australia, the Minister and the Senator, didn't mention returning people by force.

Afghanistan, Australia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees signed an agreement in January allowing the forced return of failed asylum seekers as a last resort.

The Federal Government says the deal is very clear. The UNHCR agrees.

The Government is preparing to start returning some of the estimated 50 rejected asylum seekers by the end of the year.

But former Afghan deputy minister for refugees and repatriation, Abdul Rahim, says that's not going to happen.

ABDUL RAHIM: It will not be possible in one or two years that any Afghans return.

SALLY SARA: It won't happen?

ABDUL RAHIM: It won't happen, it should not happen. If the agreement is implemented properly it should not happen.

SALLY SARA: The former deputy minister was involved in the Afghan government's side of the agreement. He says sending Afghan asylum seekers back against their will would violate the agreement because there is not enough security and development in Afghanistan.

ABDUL RAHIM: We should not dump Afghans back to the situation that forced them to leave their country.

SALLY SARA: The deal continues to stir a strong political reaction in Afghanistan, especially from ethnic Hazara leaders.

It's unclear what will happen when the Federal Government attempts to send back the first failed asylum seekers later this year.

As the debate goes on, so too does the wait for the family of 20-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, Meqdad Hussein.

His body still hasn't been returned to his relatives, a month after he was found dead at Scherger Immigration Detention Centre in Queensland.

His cousin Ali Hassan says the family is hoping to have a face to face meeting with Australian police in the next two days, if God is willing.

(Ali Hassan speaking)

DNA tests will be carried out before Meqdad Hussein's body is finally sent home to his family.


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