December 17, 2012
Peter O’Neil, Gulmohammad Hussaini and Chris Black. Picture: Richard Serong.
AFGHAN asylum seeker Gulmohammad Hussaini has become a vibrant part of the Killester College community in Springvale.
But the carpenter, who fled Afghanistan after being persecuted for helping build schools in the war-torn country, faces an uphill battle to remain in Australia.
The Hazara man’s bridging visa expires on January 9 and if he is forced to return to his country he fears for his life and the safety of his wife and child.
“I want to stay because I can’t go back, I am a target of the Taliban because of my faith and because of my work,” said Mr Hussaini, 27.
“I want to stay here because my family is in danger in Afghanistan if I go back there.
“I want to make a new life in Australia and hopefully have them join me,” he told the Dandenong Leader.
Brigidine nun Sister Brigid Arthur said many Hazara asylum seekers she was aware of who returned to Afghanistan had gone missing.
She said Mr Hussaini was a victim of circumstance. In 2010, the acceptance rate for Hazaras seeking asylum in Australia dropped from 95 per cent to about 50 per cent.
“Gul, like a number of other Hazaras (a Muslim group in Afghanistan) who came in 2010, has been very unlucky in that if they had come earlier in history or later they would get a visa,” Sister Brigid said.
“His present bridging visa is up on January 9 and we are hoping that we will be able to convince the Department of Immigration to re-look at his case.”
Mr Hussaini, affectionately known as Gul by teachers and students at the college, has been doing maintenance at the school.
College acting co-principal Chris Black said staff had dug deep for Mr Hussaini, raising about $800 and giving him a hamper of goods.
“Staff have got together a package of money and items to support him over the school holidays,” Mr Black said.
“We hope he will be back with us when school resumes.”
Nick Staikos, spokesman for Hotham federal Labor MP Simon Crean, said the school had contacted his office.
“A meeting will be arranged to discuss what assistance may be provided,” Mr Staikos said.