June 23 – Melissa

I’m constantly amazed and inspired by the resilience of our clients, and I’m humbled to be able to assist people in such need. It’s challenging but rewarding work, that’s why I’ve been at HALC for 8 years, starting as a volunteer, and currently as Co-Principal Solicitor.

As part of World Refugee Week, this is Amal’s story.

  • Imagine that your country of birth, your only home, has a law that excludes your ethnic group from citizenship;
  • Imagine having no identity documents, no way to prove who you are or where you are from;
  • Imagine having no rights to work, study or to travel within or outside your country;
  • Imagine facing the fear of ongoing violence and being killed just because you want to practice your religion.

This is what Amal, a young, stateless Rohingyan man faced in Burma.

Amal, with his parents and siblings fled Burma for safety in Saudi Arabia, where they lived on long term working visas. Amal hoped to stay there, but it was not to be.

Every two years, all migrants in Saudi Arabia must have compulsory medicals. Amal was diagnosed with HIV in 2012 and was immediately put into a locked hospital room. He received no treatment, and after 2 weeks, he was escorted to the airport by 3 government officials and told that he was being deported because of his HIV diagnosis.

Amal was stateless, with no right to live in any other country: a deal had been struck to deport him to Bangladesh. Sick, and weighing only 43kgs, he arrived in Bangladesh, with no access to medical treatment and too sick to care for himself.

His family sent him some money from Saudi Arabia, but had no idea why he had been deported. He had no right to live or work in Bangladesh. Desperate, he heard about a boat travelling to Australia, and thought “I would rather die trying to get to a country that will help me, than stay here and die of this sickness”. He understood HIV to be a death sentence.

He made it to Christmas Island, just before the government started sending asylum seekers who arrived by boat to PNG. He lived in detention for 4 months in Darwin. When he was released from detention into the community, he came to Sydney and we have assisted him to lodge an application for a Temporary Protection Visa; because he arrived by boat he cannot apply for any permanent visa.  His case is complicated by the fact that he has no identity documents that we take for granted; and cannot obtain any. We will work with Amal until he gets an outcome.

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‘Leave No One Behind’ Campaign