Go home, community leaders tell Lebanese asylum seekers

RISE is concerned by reports of a dangerous, grossly negligent and unethical undertaking by Australian Lebanese community leaders Jamal Rifi and Sheikh Malek Zeidan undertaking a trip to Manus Island and Nauru detention centres to urge Lebanese asylum seekers to “Go home”. Dr. Jamal Rifi is also a member of the Immigration Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention (http://www.smh.com.au/national/go-home-community-leaders-tell-lebanese-asylum-seekers-20131228-300ox.html)

We condemn such actions if they are true, when reports from independent Human rights monitors state clearly that violence in Northern Lebanon in particular has escalated recently due to the Syrian crisis. This violence has escalated to a point where today’s breaking news states that Syria has bombed Lebanon. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/01/01/syria-lebanon/4280361/

Amnesty International states there were approximately 40 Lebanese asylum seekers when they visited Manus Island in 2013. Here is an extract of what they have to say about Lebanese asylum seeker in Manus Island detention centre (p 27-28 http://www.amnesty.org.au/images/uploads/about/Amnesty_International_Manus_Island_report.pdf):

“Several of the asylum seekers we interviewed had fled sustained violence in northern Lebanon. For example, D.M. ran a clothing store in Tripoli, living there through several waves of violence between armed groups. Once he was shot in the face. His brother and his brother’s children were recently injured in an explosion. He decided to leave Lebanon in July 2013.

Especially in and around the city of Tripoli, skirmishes between armed groups have been intermittent but ongoing for years. Violence intensified after May 2008, and clashes in 2013 were the deadliest since the resumption of violence between the groups of fighters, some of whom support opposition fighters in Syria, with others strongly in favour of the Syrian government.Others reported that they fled their countries years ago after conflict made it too unsafe for them to remain…”

We condemn anyone who acts as an agent that assists any government or organisation to break the UN human rights and UN refugee convention to refoul asylum seekers to Lebanon or any other part of the world.

We also consider it shameful, greedy and selfish for those of us who are members of refugee/immigrant communities who have established ourselves in Australia to pull the ladder away to prevent others from protecting their life and seeking a safe haven in this country. We ask our members to please condemn the actions of people from our own communities who abuse the rights of other asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.