July 03, 2013
An Iranian refugee has described as shameful a federal government push to return failed asylum seekers to their home country.
Babak, 38, said moves by the new Rudd leadership to deter boat arrivals and to talk to Iran and the UNHCR about repatriation are using persecuted people for political ends.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr told the ABC on Monday that some Iranian boat people were middle-class economic migrants.
But Babak (not his real name), said that like himself, 99 per cent of Iranian boat people are fleeing political persecution.
He said it was ”shameful” for leaders to preach human rights internationally then consider ”stopping the boats” to solve their problems of processing asylum seekers with Indonesia and to try to win votes at home.
He would like Mr Rudd to live in Iran – ”a tyrannic country without democracy” – for a month. Such a trip would be without Babak, who believes he would be jailed or hurt because he is a dissenter.
Babak, who is from Iran’s Kurdish minority, flew out on false papers in late 2009 after being clubbed in the back and filmed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s soldiers while taking part in a pro-democracy demonstration in Tehran.
Babak evaded arrest, but having been identified on film, he hid at friends’ homes for three months. After the demonstration ”some people were arrested, some people were killed; some people even now they are in jail”.
Babak fled to Indonesia and, in January 2010, sailed from the island of Flores to Ashmore Reef where he was picked up by Australian authorities.
Babak spent two years in detention on Christmas Island and at Villawood in Sydney, then lived in community detention in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney but was unable to find permanent work.
He is currently on a one-month bridging visa and fears, with the new federal government line-up’s apparently less generous mood towards asylum seekers, that he won’t be allowed to stay much longer. ”If I go back, the government of Iran hasn’t changed. The Supreme Leader of Iran is Khamenei, and I protested against them, and I [am from the] Kurdish minority. I fear [for] my life.”
Not qualified for social security, he is being fed by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in West Melbourne and staying with a volunteer.
He had no reason to leave Iran for economic reasons; he had a respectable retail job in western Iran and has a large, loving family.
”I’ve never met two nieces and a nephew that have been born since I left,” he says. ”If I didn’t have any problem in Iran, I’d be really desperate to go back to meet them.”