Rejected by Australia and Condemned to Detention in Indonesia, Refugees Protest Life in Limbo
Nicole Valentini, 27 Jan 18
       

Refugees Protes Photo by Asif Rahimi

Asif is a young, clever man of 28 years. Despite all the difficulties posed by life in a war-torn country like Afghanistan, he managed to study International Relations at Kabul University and become fluent in four languages, some of which he taught himself.

In a different time and place, Asif could easily have become whatever he wished—a professor, a diplomat—but not today, and not in the place in which he is currently forced to stay.

Four years ago, Asif decided to leave Afghanistan, after seeing the situation there becoming more drastically unstable year after year. He left in the hope of reaching Australia, a place to start a new life far from the war.

During his journey, he found out that his wife was pregnant. He eventually reached Indonesia, and one month later, while being held captive in a detention center, he became the father of a beautiful little girl whom he has never had the chance to meet. But Asif is not a criminal—he is a refugee detained for the past four years in an immigration detention center in Balikpapan, Indonesia, along with other 183 other people.

Balikpapan detention center – Photo by Asif Rahimi

The detainees range in age from 14 to 62 years old, and include people from Somalia, Iran, among other countries. 181 of the detainees are Afghan Hazaras, an ethnic group that in the past decades has been targeted by the Taliban, and now by Daesh.

The Balikpapan detention center is a building fenced around with electrified barbed wire, originally designed to house those charged with crimes such as human smuggling, drug dealing, and cyber-hacking.

The Balikpapan inmates are not allowed to study or work, and don't receive adequate medical care. Among them is at least one teenager and many adults who need urgent medical attention.

In Indonesia, there are 13 immigration detention centers with a total capacity of 1,300 detainees. These detention centers are usually unsanitary, overcrowded and prone to flooding in the rainy season. Since January 17, 2018 the refugees at the detention center in Balikpapan have been protesting against these conditions.

The refurbishing and enlarging the detention facilities was funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), using funds received from several Australian government agencies.

Australian NGOs have denounced this “Indonesian Solution”, arguing that their government is paying Jakarta “hundreds of millions of dollars to detain and warehouse asylum seekers. Indonesian law permits immigrants to be detained for up to 10 years without judicial review.

Even though the IOM is not a humanitarian organization and does not have a mandate to assist asylum seekers and refugees, the Indonesian immigration authorities or the UNHCR refer asylum seekers and refugees to its care.

In Indonesia, the IOM has effectively been helping Australia manage its border controls, but this is far from the only case where the organisation seems to be going against many aspects of its mission.

The IOM has been criticized by researchers for its involvement in humanitarian work and in controversial projects in different parts of the world. In Libya, a country that has yet to recover stability following a NATO-led military intervention in 2011, the IOM has received tens of millions of dollars to bolster a system intended to prevent people from departing for Europe.

Sign in to view full article

       
The Price of Connection: ‘Surveillance Capitalism’
Imagine, if you can, a period long before today’s internet-based connectivity. Imagine that, in that distant time, the populations of ...
Nick Couldry
Mon, 27 Feb 17
Exploring the Complexities of Forgiveness
Friday, Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day – an annual day that honors the memories of the victims of ...
Yerachmiel Gorelik
Tue, 31 Jan 17
Petition Urges Xi Jinping to End Forced Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners
NEW YORK—A petition that has garnered nearly 6,000 signatures in just 2 days calls for President Donald Trump to help ...
Bowen Xiao
Mon, 10 Apr 17
How and Why We are Moving Beyond GDP as a Measure of Human Progress
How we track our economy influences everything from government spending and taxes to home lending and business investment. In our ...
Tani Shaw
Thu, 5 Jan 17
Organ Transplants and Scarcity, Innovation, and Politics
We all want to live a long time. And in vigorous good health while doing so.
David T. Jones
Mon, 20 Feb 17
At Epoch Times, We Care :o)
An Epoch Times Survey
An Epoch Times Survey
Sports Elements
Read about Forced Organ Harvesting
Sports Elements