“It was so dangerous to travel on the sea by boat… but there was no other choice. To stay in Afghanistan and get killed? It was basically to survive,” he said. .
He says it all has to do with his visa status, which he says restricted him from accessing his “basic human rights”.
Permanently feeling temporary
People with these visas live lives in limbo while fearing being forced to return to their countries after their visas expire, according to Sangeetha Pillai, senior research associate at the UNSW Kaldor Center for International Refugee Law.
In 2018, The New York Times published an interview with Prime Minister Scott Morrison with an image of a trophy in his office from a boat that read “I stopped these.” Source: AAP / Lucas Coch
Dr Pillai described it as a “radical policy change” strategically executed by the Coalition to send a clear message to asylum seekers.
“The idea that there is a right way to claim asylum and a wrong way to claim asylum is a creature of Australian law and policy.”
‘Treated like a second-class citizen’
The Liberal Party’s campaign website said the use of VTPs “prevents smugglers from having a product to sell”.
Mustafa (second from right) says he feels like a second-class citizen after being denied permanent residency in Australia because he arrived by boat in 2013. Source: Provided / Mustafa Nazari
Despite the roadblocks, Mustafa secured a scholarship to the University of Sydney while on a bridging visa.
“I tried my best to connect with people, but deep down it affects me psychologically. I’m not sure I can stay there to make friendships,” Mustafa said.
Mustafa has not seen his partner Somaya (top right) or his mother and sisters (bottom) since 2013. Source: Provided / Mustafa Nazari
“I feel so alienated from society.”
“Levels of depression and suicidal ideation among those on temporary protection visas are significantly higher than among other refugees on permanent visas.”
The Labor Promise
Dr Pillai said “both sides have been in tune” with strong border policies, but she hopes the abolition of temporary protection visas is a small step forward.
“I hope we get permanent residency, so we can finally call this country home and do our best to contribute back.”