KABUL, May 11: The first group of Afghan boat people, stranded in Indonesia for up to two years when Australia denied them entry as refugees, returned home on Saturday, with many swearing undying hatred of Australia.
The 36 refugees, the latest in around half a million Afghans returning home from all over the world, sang Indonesia’s praises for their hospitality but denounced Australia as uncaring and a nation that abused human rights and humiliated refugees.
In an ironic twist, the refugees arrived at Kabul Airport the day after Australia’s defence minister was feted by Afghan authorities for his troops’ help in the US-led war that ousted the fundamentalist Taliban, from whom many refugees who ended up in Indonesia fled.
Shohila Hashimi said he made the dangerous boat voyage towards Australia with his wife and three daughters so they could escape threats to their lives from the Taliban’s “tyrant regime” and start a new life.
“But the government of Australia refused to help us when we were in difficulties,” Hashimi told reporters. “If Australia ever needs our help on anything we will ignore them.”
“Now that my country is at peace again I don’t want to be anywhere else but here, and never again be humiliated by a country like Australia,” he added.
“We were welcomed kindly by Indonesia because they are a fellow Muslim country and the respect and honour they gave us was unforgettable.”—Reuters