Emma McBryde, 29th May 2014
The Morning Bulletin
IT COST Ali Palavaneh and his family all of their savings for him to risk his life twice to reach Australia, and now the government wants to send him back.
Although the 28-year-old Kurdish asylum seeker often finds himself without food and sleeping on Rockhampton’s streets, he covets his life in Australia.
But now he must return to a land that treats him like a criminal simply because of his heritage.
As a Kurd, Ali is not even considered a native of his home country of Iran and had to live the first 25 years of his life as a second-class citizen on a green card.
Ali may have been denied many basic human rights, yet the Australian Government does not consider him a refugee.
It’s a blow to the Kurd, whose people are scattered across Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey with no actual country to call their own.
He no longer knows if his family even live in Iran anymore.
In the three years that have passed since he reached Australia, Ali has been able to contact his family only once.
Several years ago, his family gathered enough money for Ali, the youngest of the family, to go to Australia in the hopes of leading a better life.
It took him two boat trips before he reached Australian waters.
Ali almost died when the first tiny, rickety boat he and 75 other people took sank off the coast of Indonesia.
But he was one of the lucky people who were rescued by a fishing boat.
After more than 30 hours of sea sickness on the cramped second boat, Ali reached Australian waters and he and 50 others were taken to Christmas Island.
Ali said he knew taking the boat was illegal, but as a Kurd he had no proper identification to go through the legal channels.
“We didn’t want to, but we wanted to save our life,” he said through an interpreter.
Ali said he felt “born again” when he reached Australia, a country full of what he describes as the best people in the world.
All he wanted was to receive an education and be treated as an equal.
But Ali said without proper identification and refugee status he was unable to enrol to study and lost his job at JBS Swift meatworks when the government made its final decision.
He has no home, but a friend sometimes lets him sleep in his house.
But now only intervention by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison can overturn the government’s decision.
“We are human, I want to live my life like a human… with freedom,” Ali said through his interpreter.
“Unfortunately I didn’t make myself. Whether we’re black or white, we’re God’s creatures. I was just wondering if there is someone who can help Kurdish people.”