Ten years on from Tampa

For many the Tampa is not a boat, it is not a place their lives changed or even a policy that took Australia outside of International legal norms. It was a defining moment for then PM John Howard in ensuring he would win the coming election. But what about the people? The Sydney Morning Herald’s Ben Doherty examines.

A decade after their disastrous voyage, the Tampa asylum seekers sent  back to Afghanistan are still on the run.

Sarwar had been home a week when they came for him. After more than two years  away from Afghanistan – on leaky boats and in refugee camps, seeking a new  country to call home – he returned to his village in Ghazni province.

“He was at his home for one week when some men, some Taliban, came on  motorbikes. They took him from his house and they killed him. They dragged him  outside and choked him to death with barbed wire.

“His wife and children saw him killed. They fled. I don’t know where they are  now,” Mohammad Akbar Sohrabi says.

Afghan family.Fearful … Mohammad Akbar Sohrabi, fourth from left, with members of his  extended family in their rented home where he remains largely in hiding. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Sohrabi carries a photo of Sarwar. It’s mixed up among the meagre possessions  he has from his time overseas, alongside a flimsy passport with an incorrect  birth date and a Nauru stamp in it.

The shopkeeper and the metalworker were firm friends at Topside, the  Australian-run refugee camp on Nauru. The photograph shows them in happy times,  seated, making preparations for one of the occasional parties the detainees  held. Then, they believed they would be resettled in Australia.

Eventually though, pressured to return to Afghanistan, they flew home  together, “but we faced the same problems, the same people, waiting for us”.

 

The Tampa’s human cargo pictured from the air as a political storm erupts in  Australia. Photo: Mike Bowers

For the complete story visit:-  http://www.smh.com.au/national/bonds-of-hope-and-hardship-20110819-1j2ct.html

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Posted on August 21, 2011, in For your information, News, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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