Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homeland at last!

At last, Nasser Mubarak got citizenship after 60 years of statelessness. He became Australian citizen this week. As if the good news comes together for purpose. This week also saw him retiring on disability pension. At last he can put all his sufferings behind his back and start sleeping with eyes closed fully.

Nasser, who is widely known by friends and relatives as Abu Khaled, is a clear example of the cruelty of the Australian immigration system. Abu Khaled did not get citizenship so easy. To get to this week’s celebration, he needed to go through the whole inhumane immigration system of this beautiful country.

He was detained immediately after his arrival to Sydney airport. He spent more than 3 years behind razor wires in Villawood detention centre. The same detention that gave him the access to early pension this week. I will explain this later on.

He arrived to this “Five Star Detention” (as he would humorously call Villawood, after a Daily Telegraph article on Feb 2003), with no illnesses. After few years there, he started to suffer from hypertension, diabetes and mental-related illnesses including deep depression and anxiety.

The notorious former immigration minister, Phillip Ruddock, insisted that he is not a refugee. But at the same time, the department could not find any country on this planet to deport him to. Regardless, he was required to wait in detention until solution could be found. It was not clear what the minister was waiting for: change of international order or simply death of this “unwanted queue jumper”.

I started to know him since 2001, when I started to regularly visit Villawood. It was not until Akram Almasry successfully challenged the legality of this indefinite detention system, before his release. But even his release was meant by the department to be very cruel and most inhumane.

He was released with no rights at all. No right to work, no right to study, no right for Medicare, and no right even for photo ID. All what he was given was a plain piece of paper stating that he is “unlawful citizen”, no picture attached. It was meant to keep him and his suffering anonymous. Ruddock was master in committing crimes, and master in hiding them.

He lived with this piece of picture-free letter of “status notification” on hope that the new minister/s will look at his long-suffering with more humane way. Until he received a letter from the new minister, Kevin Andrews, stating that “Australia has no obligation to find him a solution”. This meant for him that he will be imprisoned at-large in Australia, until he will die. This also meant that he will never see his wife and 10 sons and daughters living overseas.

I remembered when he came to see me to show me the minister’s letter and ask for our help. He was so depressed and devastated that he told me “I am finished now. Please help me to at least get out from this country”.

Indeed he was stuck in this country. As stateless, when he left Kuwait, he lost his right to go back to live in that country again. And without valid passport, no other country will grant him visa to travel to. He was really stuck in Australia, indefinitely.

It was just before the last election, 2007. The minister was just too arrogant, or maybe naïve. Or maybe it is mixture of both: naivety because of arrogance.

The Social Justice Network needed to campaign for less than a month, before the minister gave up and offered “olive branch”. The minister was so desperate to stop our campaign, that he did not know what kind of visa to grant Abu Khaled. After going to Centrelink, Abu Khaled was told that he was granted carer visa, and he needed to name the person in his care. And nobody knows how old person with so many disabilities, can care for any. He needed someone to care for him. The minister was in so much hurry, that he granted him the very wrong visa type.

The system was very cruel, that Abu Khaled was retired, at the same time he was accepted as Australians. We are very sure that without this cruel inhumane system, Abu Khaled could work for Australia, at least for a decade. The criminal immigration system did not only cost us (as tax-payers) hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep this poor man detained. But it also costs us now hundreds of thousands of dollars caring (and treating) this disabled (because-of-the-system).

Abu Khaled is very happy now. He is citizen now. He has certificate to prove this now. And soon, he will have passport. He will travel to see his family members. We are happy too. We defeated the system, again. We defeated the minister and his department of mainly bureaucrats without heart or feelings. And we will celebrate this victory this coming Sunday. And we will keep our fight for better Australia. Also, we gained other member in our group. Abu Khaled whispered today in my ears: “I am with you in your fight against the system. You have my vote and support”

Abu Khaled: welcome to Australia.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is it practical or relaistic to ask somebody to get rid of their skin?

Brother Asem Judeh had circulated about 2 weeks ago email urging the Greens senators to put a motion in the senate to remove Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations. In this instance I would like to explain why this invitation is both unpractical and unrealistic.
First of all, to ask someone to push for an issue, he/she should have believed in the justice of the issue. To ask the Greens to put such motion, it seems that there is pre-assumption that the Greens consider Hamas to be legitimate national resistance force.
I listened to all Greens MPs and other hierarchy’s speeches on rallies in different states. During these speeches, there is no one word mentioning Hamas. There is no one word to condemn occupation. All speeches were about:
- condemning “the use of disproportionate force” by Israel.
- Condemning bloody Hamas rockets.
So infact the Green is not condemning the occupation. It is very clear that the Greens is only against use of “disproportionate force”. This means that the Greens does not mind if Israel “gently” kill Palestinians. They are not against killing maybe 500, but not 1500. And they may accept Israel to destroy 1000 house, but not 10, 000.

I even went back to explore the Greens official stance on the legitimacy of Hamas.
The only stance was contained in Bob Brown’s (The Greens leader) parliamentary speech, on 7 November 03, when he said “The bill is to proscribe the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hamas organisations, respectively in Pakistan and in Palestine, which have terrorist components. The Greens will have no opposition to these or other terrorist organizations being proscribed …” as the Greens “have no truck with terrorism”.

So the only official stance on Hamas by the Greens is that it is a terrorist organization.

So before we ask the Greens to put a motion to remove Hamas from Federal list of terrorist organizations, the Greens should remove Hamas from the “Greens” list of terrorist organizations.
I have no problem to spend tons of hours and energy to lobby the Labor or Liberals to change their stance on Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but not the Greens.
Why?
The Labor and Liberals are big parties. They govern Australia alternately. They can direct our UN ambassador to vote in certain way or another. They can increase or decrease aid. They can lift or impose bans. But the Greens is too small to make any effect.
Instead of wasting our time and energy trying to lobby the Greens, we can do it in an easy way. Before the next election, we can conduct campaign to expose their opportunist stance. Making them lose few hundred votes could cost them dearly. They infact could disappear, except from Tasmania. After that, they will run after our votes in the following election, exactly as they did before 2001 Federal election.
The story with the Labor or Liberals is different. They are big. We need to make the issue big electoral issue to cost them government. Even if we could do this, we would not be able to make them disappear. We can cost them 1, 2, 3 seats out of hundreds of seats. On the other hand costing the Greens 1, 2 or 3 seats, this would mean to reduce their representation by 60%. And that is significant. And we can do it.
We can ask the Greens to proactively act on facilitating prostitution, encouraging drug abuse, approve homosexual marriage,… I would even assume that they will not wait for us to ask them to act on these issues. They are proactively acting on them, as they have deep commitments to them. They have detailed policy and stances.
But let me assure all of you that the Greens would not go further than “crying” on rallies of sadness of loss of lives “on both sides”. I am sure that they will not take different path. I hope that they can take different path (at least to make me look like liar), but they would not as I know the deep ideological commitments of the Greens.
Let us remember that the Greens hierarchy is made either of:
- Zionists
- “Ex-Stalinists” who still believe that “religion is the opium of the masses”.
- Opportunist white-racist who joined the Greens for better “job” and power grab

So, tell me who will push for these “revolutionary” changes!
I would prefer that we do it by intense lobbying the big parties. We can also take another approach by start building “real” alternative left force (which we started to do). But we cannot ask racists and Zionists to get rid of their real skin. And they would not do it, at the end of the day.