Afghan refugee embraces Timor solution

Hello,

This is again a very interesting posting. Afghan refugees would rather go to Timor Leste, even though Ramos-Horta has stated it is fine for Americain and British forces to occupy, and bomb Afanistain. Maybe they don’t know his position on Afghanistain or maybe Afghan refugees are tired of they way our governement – a governement which talks of bringing democracy by the bomb – treat them.

I would like to stress that most people in Britain are against the occupying of Afghanistan, there have been many demonstrtions against this, as there was on the occupying of Iraq. Human rights activists in Britain oppose the way Afghan refugees are treated in Britain, i.e. put into detention camps for processing (this is what we do to cattle), not allowed to work, refused benefits – the British governement treats refugees from all countries in this inhuman manner.

It is a great pity that particularly western governements seem unable to understand that they are responsible for causing so many people to become refugees, thus they should then accept that they have a responsibilty to treat people forced to flee their countries because of their policies humanely.

Lidia Tindle
Tyneside East Timor Solidarity

On 8 July 2010 14:55, ETAN wrote:

also Afghan refugee embraces Timor solution

What about us, say asylum hosts

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Dili, East Timor

From:The Australian

July 08, 2010 12:00AM

PAULO Freitas spent 16 years in the armed struggle against Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor.

He lost his parents and a sibling in the war, and these days scrapes by on the poverty line, looking after a small Dili kiosk owned by his brother.

But the idea that Julia Gillard would impose a massive new batch of refugees on a country barely able to stand on its own feet makes the 50-year-old wonder why he bothered. “We fought for independence, we gave everything we had for our country,” he said yesterday, as rolling storm clouds gathered over the capital.

“We accept that what we have is not much, and even so the government gives us very little to get by on. But how is it that new refugees from outside could be paid to come here?

“If Australia wants to send us these refugees, and our government wants to accept them, then fine. But if that’s the case, I invite the Australian government to come here and also pay attention to the plight of poor East Timorese like me.”

Mr Freitas, at least, has a stable enough existence, keeping his brother’s ramshackle store – more a hole in the wall with a couple of shelves bearing bottled water, cigarettes and sweets – in Dili’s shantytown district of Becora.

It is just minutes away from the gleaming white government buildings and parliament house where, should Ms Gillard’s proposal attract the support of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, the detail would be examined. Mr Gusmao was yesterday in a previously scheduled series of all-day cabinet meetings.

He refused to comment on Ms Gillard’s asylum-seeker announcement, which effectively drew President Jose Ramos-Horta into an issue of national planning which, as head of state, he is supposed to have no input on.

Mr Ramos-Horta on Tuesday admitted he and Ms Gillard had discussed the idea but that it was just that – an idea.

But alongside the deafening silence emanating from Mr Gusmao’s office yesterday, there were rumblings of dissent.

One senior government staffer said they “absolutely didn’t agree” with the Gillard proposal.

“We have enough issues dealing with our own displaced persons problem. Who imagines we can take more refugees from outside?” the staffer said.

East Timor has made huge progress since the near civil war of 2006 that brought social structures to a grinding halt and eventually resulted in the electoral defeat of Mari Alkatiri’s government.

Behind this progress is the country’s huge maritime oil and gas reserves – negotiations over which could be part of the complicated solution to any potential asylum-seeker processing centre.

Fretilin president Francisco “Luolo” Guterres flew in from Mozambique yesterday and was met at the airport by Dr Alkatiri, who briefed him on the situation.

Fretilin party leaders have waged a constant campaign against Mr Gusmao and his coalition government.

For another dirt-poor Dili resident, Becora woman Theresa Da Silva, the big end of town and its decision-making barely figures.

But as she filled old motor-oil containers with water to haul up the hill for her nine-person family to cook, drink and wash with, she said: “It would be better that the government paid attention to us, before they paid it to foreigners who don’t even belong here.”

Sydney Morning Herald

Afghan refugee embraces Timor solution

TOM ALLARD

July 8, 2010

ALI, an ethnic Hazara who fled Afghanistan in fear of his life, has been stuck in Indonesia for more than two years and is desperate to come to Australia or another country where he will be safe.

He is also a strong supporter of Julia Gillard’s plan to throw up the barricades to boat people and send them packing to East Timor.

”It is about time they did something,” he said on Tuesday afternoon from the tiny apartment in Jakarta he shares with another asylum seeker. ”This policy of Kevin Rudd encouraged illegals. It was very bad.

”It is my personal opinion that if a country accepts refugees it should be a legal refugee, not the illegals.”

Under international law, asylum seekers who head to Australia by boat are breaking no laws, but Ali is one of the asylum seekers in Indonesia who either do not have the money, or the inclination, to engage a people smuggler.

He is among those who wait for years for resettlement under the official United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees process, biding their time in very trying circumstances until a place comes up.

As far as he is concerned, those who make it by boat to Australia – and he knows scores of people who have done so – are jumping ahead of him and others.

”[The Rudd policy] was not fair to the others,” he said.

”People have been here for more than 10 years waiting.”

Ali – who asked that his full name not be revealed to protect his security – has been found to be fleeing a genuine fear of persecution and granted refugee status.

He left Afghanistan after being embroiled in a political dispute that saw colleagues killed or disappear, travelling as far as he could as he was scared his enemies would be able to reach him if he sought sanctuary in a neighbouring country.

From his perspective, the consequences of Australia’s relaxed immigration policies had other effects. It encouraged the UNHCR to slow down processing in Jakarta, and fed the rampant corruption in Indonesia that saw people regularly paying off officials to get out of detention centres and on to boats.

”The UNHCR would openly tell people: ‘This is your life. The borders are open – why don’t you take this solution? … We can’t help the refugees here,’ ” he said. ”They would indirectly encourage people to go by boat.”

As for traffickers, he has met plenty, and regards them with disdain.

”Kevin Rudd was giving opportunities for human traffickers. These smugglers are not nice people and they co-operate with Indonesian officials. This kind of corruption, it’s not at a low level. It’s at a high level.”

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