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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

People smugglers exploit dangers to cash in on desperation

Michael BachelardJune 30, 2012

No choice ... ethnic Hazaras from Afghanistan wait in Cisarua, West Java, for people smugglers to take them to Australia. Photo: Michael Bachelard

ASYLUM seekers have accused people smugglers in Indonesia of taking advantage of the recent fatal sinking of two refugee boats to jack up their prices.

Some of the thousands waiting in Cisarua for a boat to Christmas Island told the Herald yesterday the extra charge, up to double the usual price, was to buy ''stronger boats'' after the drownings.

But they say Australia's political ructions are also pushing up the price as thousands compete to get to Australia before the election of an Abbott government.
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Hameed Ullah, 21, an ethnic Hazara asylum seeker who has been waiting for about four months, told the Herald he had received a call from his ''agent'' three days ago upping the price.

''He said: 'The sea is crazy … If you want to go with me, now the rate is $US8200.''' Two months ago it cost $US4000 to $US6000, Mr Ullah said.

There is no guarantee the extra price will buy a better boat. Asylum seekers do not know the real names or phone numbers of the people smugglers. After paying the fee, they wait to receive a phone call saying a boat is ready. They can choose to board or not board once they see the vessel.

Mr Ullah said people followed the political news in Australia and it increased demand to get there sooner rather than later.

''They know now the condition; they read [about] the election. Australia is near to change the prime minister,'' he said.

''We think if they are to change we will be here a long time. Julia Gillard is good for refugee people. If they change, maybe it's bad for us because maybe we can't arrive in Australia.''

Mr Ullah was a student in Afghanistan before his father was killed by the Taliban. He took his family's life savings to come to Cisarua, two hours from Jakarta, where he lives with 20 to 30 other asylum seekers. All are waiting with increasing urgency for a boat to a country they believe should welcome them.

Another Hazara man, Imayat Ali, 55, said the danger would not stop them as they were fleeing far worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan. ''We are risking our life to go to Australia, even [though] the current is too high, the boats are not too strong. But still people want to go … better to die in the sea on the way to Australia than with the Taliban in Afghanistan.''

Mr Ali's nephew was saved by Australian rescuers from the ship that sank, with the loss of at least 90 lives last week. In a brief phone call from Christmas Island he told his uncle: ''Don't come with such a person who you don't believe, and bring with you a tyre tube with air in it. The sea is very high.''

He did not know specifically about the government's ''Malaysia solution'', but he did know about Malaysia from family members who are there.

''We cannot go to Malaysia … what a place their jails are! Unhuman treatment … We only want to be in Australia.''

Mr Ali said people were grateful to the people smugglers. ''We're thanking the people who bring us here. They relieve us … We are yearning for the service they render to us.''

Brisbane Times 

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