Some of the AIDS conference delegates who say they’re seeking asylum are from a country in East Africa which they don’t wish to identify.
This man told SBS Radio’s Swahili program what life is like for him at home.
“What made me make this decision are the acts of brutality I was subjected to. When someone discriminates against you because of your sexuality or the origins of your ethnicity there comes a time where you have to say enough is enough. I have had acid thrown at me, I was stabbed on my head and private parts and despite my numerous reports to the police no action has been taken. I’ve tried relocating to other parts of the country for my own safety but I’ve met the same problems everywhere I’ve moved to.”
Another East African man who spoke to SBS Radio’s Swahili program says he’s faced discrimination because of his efforts to help young albino people.
“I established a football team which comprised of 14-24 year old boys who are albino and their peers who were considered normal. My aim was to show the society that albinos are no different to others and when given a chance they too can be just as productive. I then took my team to the national parliament with an aim of educating the society further. Our visit to the national parliament received a lot of media coverage in the country.”
Albinos in East Africa face widespread persecution, and their body parts are used in witchcraft.
The asylum seeker says he was even asked to help obtain body parts.
“Shortly after I received some phone calls from some wealthy people in (the Tanzanian capital) Dar es Salaam, whom I won’t mention their names- they asked me to help them with the killing of albinos so their body organs can be sold and returned and they could become wealthier. I declined their proposal and reported the matter to the police who arrested them. However a few days later, I saw them walking freely and soon after I received some threatening phone calls from them, accusing me of reporting them and that they were going to deal with me accordingly.”
The crisis accommodation service, HomeGround, told SBS 19 delegates to the AIDS conference who are now claiming asylum have been placed in emergency housing in Melbourne.
It says it has been approached by community members offering to house the asylum seekers in their homes.
Pamela Curr, from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, is also working with some of the delegates.
She says many are at risk purely because they either are HIV-positive themselves, or work with people who are.
“These people arrived mainly from African countries. They came into the country on visas, lawful visas by air and what has happened is that many of them come from countries where to be working in the field of HIV or to be affected by HIV is a life threatening proposition. Not only from the illness, but also from the violence of governments in the countries in which they live.”
Pamela Curr says it’s not the first time that delegates to international events in Australia have stayed behind, to claim asylum.
“We have seen it in the past from a number of conferences and sporting events, the Homeless World Cup, there was a world religious day. We have seen this in the past and what happens is some people actually come to the conferences who may indeed be at risk and they may hope that they can seek asylum. But others come to the conference with the intention of returning home and then see the freedom and safety is intoxicating.”
The office of the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, says it’s unable to comment on individual applications for asylum.