August 24, 2013 | AAP
A REFUGEE who spent years in detention has slammed big political parties at a Melbourne rally in support of asylum seekers.
Mohammad Ali Baqiri, 22, told a few hundred protesters gathered outside the State Library that both Labor and the coalition have forgotten how asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives – like he did as a child in 2001.
“My country, Afghanistan, has nothing. It has given my people nothing except for pain and suffering,” he told the crowd.
“And they don’t even realise it – they just like to play their own games on who can be elected.”
Mr Baqiri said his family used a people smuggler to send him by boat to Australia, but the vessel was intercepted and he was sent to Nauru for three years before he was finally granted asylum.
He is now studying business and law at Victoria University.
He said Labor is simply dumping Australia’s refugee intake responsibilities on to smaller countries while the coalition’s boat buy-back plan is ridiculous.
“Good luck with that,” he quipped.
“They are playing with innocent peoples’ lives. They need to realise that.”
Similar rallies were also held in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra on Saturday as part of a national day of action by refugee advocates.
Amanda Zivcic of the Refugee Action Collective said they wanted to counter-balance the fearmongering seen in the election debate.
“Whoever wins this coming election is going to be a loss to refugees,” she said.