Offshore policy ‘will not stop the boats’


Ali Reza Sadiqi says Nauru is no deterrent. Picture: Lee Griffith, The West Australian

Offshore processing will not deter asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat, a former detainee says.

For Ali Reza Sadiqi, an Afghan from the Hazara minority group, the horror of spending a year in Nauru still haunts him.

The 26-year-old engineering student, who now lives in Perth, is still traumatised from his time in the detention centre when he was just 16.

“The worst problem was we were dumped there to be forgotten,” Mr Sadiqi said.

“There was no hope whatsoever.”

Ten years ago, the Nauru centre consisted of long tents with bunk beds and not much else, and there was power and running water only two to three hours a day, he said.

He knew before he boarded a boat for Australia he might end up in Nauru, but it didn’t deter him.

“In Indonesia, it was only a matter of time before I was caught by police, put in prison, and deported back,” he said.

“But deported back to where? I didn’t have any choice and it’s exactly the same for other people. They don’t have any other choice.”

The Taliban in Afghanistan are renowned for violence against the Hazara people.

Mr Sadiqi faced persecution and death at home.

He also believes if family reunion visas are denied to refugees, it will only encourage more vulnerable people such as women, children and the elderly to make the perilous journey.

“Being on a boat many times myself, if you are a strong adult, and you know how to swim, you are more than capable of taking care of yourself and you can survive,” he said.

But if people knew their family might be left stranded in a foreign country, they would try to bring them, despite the risk, to give the family a chance to stay together.

“Australia is a humane country,” Mr Sadiqi said.
“I just wish the politicians could see the human side of it as well and don’t treat human beings as objects. I hope they will try to understand.”