Sunday, April 22, 2007

Young gay man suffering homophobic abuse in refugee detention

Warning: This is a heartbreaker. I wish he didn't think he had to go into so much detail to plead his case. But, it's not my job to edit his story, just honor it. It's breaking my heart cos I've met the guy, and haven't talked with him, cos he's just hung around silently, but God, now I know all this about him, okay, deep breath, enough about me, here's the story as Rachel posted it:

This is Ali's story. He would love it for people to call him/ visit him/ publish his case. Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) will visit/ do an action soon. Rachel Evans 0403 798 420.

ALI B HUMAYUN - (DOB: 29 / 01 / 1981) Detention ID: VW10883 Stage 1, Villawood Immigration Detention Centre -15 Birmingham Avenue - Villawood NSW 2163. Mob: 0434 109 387

Dear Rachael,
I heard about your organization (Community Action Against Homophobia) through someone I met here at the detention centre (at Villawood). He used to be my cellmate at one point and was released into the Australian community a few months ago. I write to you because I feel that your organization may be able to offer some assistance. Let me briefly describe my circumstances. I am a Pakistani national. I traveled to Australia in early 2000 on a Student visa. I was enrolled at the University of Canberra where I studied for three (3) years before dropping out owing to depression.

I was born into a conventional Pakistani household. My father was a military officer (is now retired) and mum was a teacher. She still teaches. I remember living as a toddler in a military neighborhood with my family. This neighborhood was comprised of families just like mine, where the fathers were all military officers. Since the age of six (possibly earlier) I began being sexually assaulted and abused. I was put through many years of systematic sexual abuse at the hands of an organized, closely-knit network of pedophiles. These predators were male servants assigned to my father and to my mates' fathers as help around the house (cleaners, cooks, drivers etc).

They (the pedophiles) would get us together at either my house or one of my mates' (while our parents would be at work), and would then sexually abuse us and have group intercourse with us. My mates and I were made to have intercourse with each other, as well as with all these adult men who were abusing us. At other times I was abused and assaulted by myself, at home, sometimes by one and sometimes by multiple attackers. All my life I suffered in silence. I never told a soul about what was happening to me.

I somehow graduated high school and came to Australia to pursue further (university) study. My first sexual encounter with a girl was in 2002, at university in Australia. Vivid memories of years of sexual abuse suddenly surfaced as a result and I went into deep depression. I was unable to function in bed with my then girlfriend and our relationship soon crumbled. I never told her what was wrong with me or what I had suffered in the past. I was unable to hold down a job, unable to cope with the pressures of uni (assignment deadlines, exam preparations etc), and unable to function as an adult in general. I soon withdrew from society and isolated myself in my room on university campus, and abused alcohol daily. I was expelled from university in 2003, and in January 2005 I was brought to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. I have been resident here since.

A year and a half ago I began a same-sex relationship with a fellow inmate / detainee. He is of Spanish origin and was recently released into the community after having his permanent residence reinstated. He continues to regularly visit me at the detention centre and our relationship is strong and thriving. I have been feeling very down and depressed again lately, for about two months (the period of time my boyfriend has been outside in the community). I am the only person here at the detention centre that is known to be currently involved in a same-sex relationship. I am taunted and tormented by majority of the detainees as a result. The name of your organization suggests that I may be seeking assistance from the right source.

I applied for asylum last year on grounds of my sexual orientation and in fear of persecution (owing to my sexuality) if returned to Pakistan. I did not apply for asylum / protection previously because my plan was to graduate from university and apply for permanent residence on basis of my degree. After coming into immigration detention, as a last resort I have applied for refugee status, which I have been declined (of course, because hell will freeze over before the Refugee Review Tribunal decides to grant refugee status to persons on basis of their sexual orientation). Nonetheless, this has enabled me to prevent my deportation back to Pakistan for the time being.

I have exhausted my avenues of appeal and am currently in the process of writing to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and requesting him to exercise his discretion on humanitarian grounds and substitute the decision of the Tribunal with a more favorable one. I've got my fingers crossed but am not holding my breath (I've grown used to disappointment after disappointment during time spent in detention).

A vast percentage of detainees here at the detention centre were previously inmates at prison(s). I am willing to bet anything that at least some of them would harbor homosexual feelings, but are too ashamed to come out of the closet (especially those that have done long spells in prison). Instead they focus their energies on taunting and tormenting those of us who do have the courage to be true to ourselves (namely only my boyfriend and I; but now I am left all alone to suffer by myself in this hell with its homophobic inhabitants). The rest of the detainee population comprises of people that mainly come from poor, third-world countries (such as myself) that are simply too ignorant to even begin to grasp a comprehension of the concept of homosexuality. Out of sheer ignorance, they join in the torment parade. I have been living here for two years and four months, and find myself being taunted by people that arrived two weeks ago. It's so unfair. I've never been incarcerated prior to coming into detention. I've never been charged with or convicted of a criminal offence, in Australia or in my country of origin, Pakistan.

Nobody understands how hard it is. No one knows what a person such as me has to go through in order to come out of the closet. And then when I finally did come out, it was only to be taunted and tormented by everyone around me. I live amongst these people day in and day out and I don't know how much more of their hellish torment I can take. I know I am depressed because for example, I am unable to derive joy or satisfaction from activities that were previously very enjoyable to me (such as playing guitar). I have once again isolated myself from everybody around me (just like I once did at university, when I first went into depression). I do not talk to anyone anymore.

All my life I have had trust-issues; i.e. I have found it difficult (impossible, rather) trusting people (or at least completely trusting people). I believe this to be attributed to years of sexual abuse at the hands of people that were entrusted by my family with taking care of me while they (my family) were not around. As a result of these individuals breaching the trust of my parents, I believe I am unable to trust anybody. My relationships suffer greatly as a result, and this of course causes me further grief and anguish. Now with all the gay-jokes, the laughter and torment, my world (what's left of it and what's become of it) and my life seem like one big conspiracy. I feel like I am losing my mind; losing my sanity (what's left of it).

I would have sought asylum in Australia a long time ago had I known I was going to experience such difficult and trying times at university and was going to be unable to graduate as a result. Now after coming into detention and being faced with the prospect of deportation, I applied for refugee status as a last resort; a desperate measure since I had no other choice. It's so unfair; people have married after coming into detention, have applied for Spouse visas and have been released into the Australian community as permanent residents. I am not even permitted to wed my partner, whom I dearly love and want to live my life with. It's so unfair. I am especially surprised at the strict laws concerning same-sex marriage because this is Australia, not some poor ignorant third-world country.
Being permitted to remain and live in Australia would provide me with the opportunity to live my life openly and freely, not in secret, and free from oppression and prejudice (from authorities and / or family). The Refugee Review Tribunal seems to believe that I would be able to easily relocate to another part of Pakistan, away from my family, and live my life safely as long as I am discreet about my sexuality. My father for one has disowned me and my elder brother is waiting for me to return home so that he may "take care of me" in the name of the family honor and earn a good name and respect for himself for protecting and upholding the family honor and punishing me for dishonoring them. I have two siblings, both elder to me; a brother and sister. My brother was dishonorably discharged from the Pakistan Army and lives with my parents. My sister lives in another city with her husband and children. My mum and sister both still love me and want me to be safe. Dad and my brother, on the other hand, want me dead.
I can go on and on but I think I will end it here for now, because I don't want to give you too much more than you can digest. Please take this information into account and consideration and please, it is my respectful plea and request to you to try and intervene in my case and possibly assist in resolving my matters. I shall indeed be most grateful and eternally indebted to you and your organization. I take this opportunity to thank you for your time and consideration with respect to my matters. I anxiously await a reply on your part.

Yours Sincerely,

April 19, 2007


Blogger Erin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

Hey, thanks so much for posting this. I've linked to it from my own journal so that I can spread the word. I hope you don't mind. :)

1:18 PM  

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