End to temporary protection visas and family separation
End to temporary protection visas and family separation
In Australia there are about 5000 nationals from Afghanistan on temporary protection visas. Most of us have been living here for the past 10 years.
Despite being recognised as refugees, under current Government policy, we will likely never receive a permanent visa and reunite with our families and loved ones. We must relive our trauma by reapplying for temporary visas again and again, every 3-5 years and live in perpetual fear of being sent back to danger.
As a group of refugees from Afghanistan currently living in Australia on temporary visas, we know the reality of this situation very well. We are all currently separated from our families who remain trapped in Afghanistan. We have found physical safety in Australia, there are no Taliban or any other terrorist groups that threatens us, but we don’t have the psychological safety being on temporary visa.
In the past 20 years, under the ruling of the US and the internationally supported Afghanistan government, the people of Afghanistan, and particularly the ethnic and religious minorities such as the Hindus, Sikh and Hazara ethnic group, they were able to form a basic livelihood for themselves. This is despite the existence of systematic discrimination, targeted bombings and killings, and the threats of genocide from the Taliban.
Unfortunately, due to the fall of Kabul, international supports no longer exist to protect the ethnic and religious minorities from persecution such as Sikh, Hindus, and Hazaras, leaving them, under greater risk and exposure to genocide.
In the last 20 years, the long trail of crimes, targeted killings and bombings against Hazaras, designed and promoted by the Taliban, ISIS, and other relating groups, have caused a high number of Hazaras to seek refuge into different countries. Amongst these Hazara refugees, those who arrived in Australia by boat in between 2005 – 2013 have faced new set of problems. They came to Australia, hoping to have a place to call home, but with the changes in the refugee policies, those who entered Australia by boat after 13 August 2012 were only granted temporary protection visas and been separated from their families. Therefore, as a group of victims of ruthless and inhumane resettlement policies and restrictions yet imposed on us here in Australia, we are urging the Australian government to grant us permanent residency, end family separation and end our mental torture and socio-economic restrictions imposed on us over the past 10 years and recognize us as prospective Australian citizens serving Australia, as we have been doing.
With the critical situation unfolding in Afghanistan, our return to Afghanistan is certainly to death and persecution. Some foreseeable consequences we face if we were to return to Afghanistan include:
· Arbitrary deprivation of our life; or
· Being subjected to:
b) cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment; or
c) degrading treatment or punishment
· Severe threats to our life
· Significant physical harassment or ill-treatment; or
· Threats to our capacity to subsist including denial of the ability to achieve a basic level of subsistence.
We have been living in Australia for the past 10 years and been your neighbours, mates, work colleagues, bricklayers, construction workers, cleaners, painters, students, and so many more to you.
Over the past 10 years, we have faced many challenges and restrictions imposed on us, including travel restrictions, access to financial institutions to acquire loans, mortgages and other business-related interests, studies including school, college, TAFE, and university restrictions.
In other words, even though, the government accepted us as genuine refugees, and processed us case by case and its merits, it has denied our rights to become a permanent part of the Australian community and separated from our families simply because of our method of arrival to Australia.
We feel we are being treated as second-class citizens in Australia simply because we don’t have the same rights as normal citizens.
The consequences of such harsh limitations have caused many refugees on temporary visas to suffer severe mental pressures as they couldn’t reunite with their families, children, relatives, and partners for almost ten years. For example, some of us, when we left Afghanistan due to threats of persecution, our daughters and son were babies, now they have grown, some of them are even married. With the government travel restrictions imposed on us we couldn’t even attend their weddings, the most important moment for a parent to be beside their loved ones.
Since 2013, around 16 Afghani national temporary visa holders have ended their lives due to mental pressures caused by the current refugee policies. For instance, recently Hadi Saffari [ED1] [ZH2] a temporary visa holder lived in Queensland ended his life due to mental pressures caused by these harsh policies.
According to research published by the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, undertaken by UNSW Sydney, Australian Red Cross, Settlement Services International (SSI), and Phoenix Australia at the University of Melbourne, the numbers of suicidal and suicidal thoughts are significantly higher amongst temporary residents in Australia compared to permanent residents.
To end this ruthless and inhumane treatment of temporary residents, we have launched a campaign to end the temporary and family separation. We humbly request your support to convince the Australian government to grant us permanent residency and reunite us with our families and loved ones and end this uncertainty that we have been living for the past 10 years. We are asking for a permanent status and family reunion.