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John Passant

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May 2014



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Angalan: a refugee’s story

Meryl Antica talked recently  to an asylum seeker about his life. This is his story. His name has been changed to protect him and his family. 

He left his mum when he was seven.  Rejected by his stepfather, and much to the distress of his mother, he went to live with his aunty.

A young Tamil living in Sri Lanka, every morning he was up at 4am to help Aunty bake goods for the market.  School began at 8am, and at the end of the school day he returned home to again work with his Aunty.

“How many days a week did you do this?” I asked him. “Every day,” he told me.  His beautiful smile rarely wavered.

His cousin was a journalist, a few years older than him.  When his cousin began publishing articles on the government and persecution of Tamils, authorities began to pursue the family.  His cousin spent a year in jail.  He was released and again incarcerated for 18 months.  This time when he was released he went into hiding.

The authorities began raiding Angalan’s home regularly, searching for information on his cousin.  They went through the family’s belongings and interrogated them all.

At 16, Angalan was kidnapped from school and taken to a holding cell where he was tied up and had his shirt ripped.  After six hours of holding him captive they released him and he walked 48 kms to get home.

Angalan began to try to evade the authorities himself, even though he had done nothing wrong.  He would change jobs every three months to avoid being discovered.

He was again arrested and held in what he called a torture centre.  Fourteen days without food or water, and when they finally did give him water he received 40 millilitres a day.

They made him stand for hours with his hands tied, standing bent with a stack of heavy books on his back.  If a book fell, they hit him.

They gave him papers to sign for his release, but his fingers were so numb from the pins they stuck under his nails that he had to sign with a thumb print.

Again he was released but constantly pursued by the authorities, often alerted to his whereabouts by Sinhalese neighbours.

He returned to his mother for a while but was soon captured again.  On his knees, beaten with his hands tied behind his back, his mother came to beg for his release.  When they began beating his mother he told her to leave, and reluctantly she did.

This time when he was released he realised that he had nowhere to go, no one to go to, and he gave up.  Drank poison.  But someone found him and he was taken to a hospital. When he was in hospital they put him in isolation, gave him drugs and questioned him again, but because of the drugs he can’t remember much about it.

The doctor who treated him gave him some money.  “You need to take this, take your chances and get on a boat to Australia.”

Twenty-two days in a boat.  He was now 23.  Forty-five men on a forty foot boat.  The last four days there was no water or food.

When the Australian navy picked them up they were taken to the Cocos Islands.  They were there for one day and then moved to Christmas Island.  After a week, Angalan was moved again, to Nauru.

“Every day there was a suicide attempt,” he told me.  “Every day people cried.  All my life I had been running, hiding, and I had no time to think of my situation.  Now that’s all we could do.”

Eighteen months on Nauru, then another four in Broome.  Finally he was granted a bridging visa for one year.  Immigration states that if you are an ‘illegal maritime arrival’ you will not be granted another visa, of any kind.

With help from Refugee Rights Action Network WA and churches, Angalan and other Tamils who had arrived on the boat with him found a house with a six month lease.  It expires in October.

There are five boys living in the house, and each gets about $200 per week to survive on.  After rent and bills are paid, and food is bought, there is nothing left.

Angalan has no idea of what his future holds.

“I’m scared Mum,” he tells me.  “I don’t know what will happen.”

So many years of pain, loneliness, fear and uncertainty.

I have a son who is the same age as Angalan, 25.  He has never known the pain, fear or uncertainty that Angalan has.  He has had stability, warmth, food, love and safety all his life. He knows he has family and friends around who will provide him a home, who can help him out through difficult times.

Angalan has a family for now, and people who will help him for now. What will happen to him when his bridging visa runs out in February?

Can we help him to stay? Or will the government send him back to Sri Lanka, or Nauru, or Manus Island, and hold him there with no idea of what the future holds for him?






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