After The Tampa. From Afghanistan to New Zealand Abbas Nazari

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It was a cold, rainy day here yesterday so I read this complete book in a day. It was well worth it, but now I must speak out about a few parallels and truths I discovered in this amazing story.

I remember this history happening, but what do I think about it now.????  I will include some quotes and a few comments but draw your own conclusions, as you see how some of this history parallels quite closely, to what is happening here now in NZ.

Political? Social? Spiritual?

This story began in Hazara, Afghanistan

The fall in 1998 of the HQ for Hazara-based militias marked a turning point in the war. Their militias splintered leaving Hazara (where the Nazari family lived) undefended against the brutality of the Taliban. A Taliban blockade was established , crippling the already fragile economy by cutting off fuel, medical supplies and food. My father recalls how the price of everything went up as scarcity cut in. Clinics and pharmacy shelves were empty, and many people died as a result of preventable or curable ailments. Families went hungry as grain stores were rationed, then depleted, and the price of wheat went beyond reach. Animals were slaughtered as their owners could no longer afford to feed them. As news of each Taliban atrocity reached our village, it soon became clear that it was only a matter of time before they came for us. It is amidst this violence and misery that our story begins.                            After The Tampa P49

 

Parallel

Have you noticed many things before plentiful, are no longer available in many of our shops. Not just food and medicine. And have you noticed the price of fuel lately? Political? Social? Spiritual?

 

The Tampa Affair

After the engine failed and their overcrowded boat was battered by a huge storm, these boat people from Afghanistan were getting desperate.

 

This event turned into an International political refugee crisis especially for Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra.

International Media was now firmly focused on the demonstrations and protests, with camera crew training their lenses on the cramped facilities, tearful children and unarmed inmates facing off against security personnel wielding tear gas and water cannons….. Australia reputation was in tatters….officials were tasked with working out how to get the Tampa out of Australian waters, out of the sight of the media, out of the sight of the minds of Australian voters.                                           After the Tampa P163

These boat people spent one long week aboard the Tampa in very crowded, extremely hot, unhygienic conditions, with some injured and sick boat people, some with severe mental stress and two pregnant woman. After 7 days they were granted a request for  doctors and medical supplies to come out to the boat. The Tampa had been sitting off Christmas Island unable to dock because of  the politics in Canberra.

Two rigid hulled inflatable boats(RIBs) were duly seen hurtling out from shore – but what no one on the Tampa knew was that they were actually carrying dozens of Australian Special Air Service (SAS) personnel. It was a trap. the RIBs, which were not flying a flag, reached the Tampa within minutes. Maltua was waiting to greet the Drs when Captain Rinnan radioed him urgently to pull up the ladders. Rinnan had vehemently opposed soldiers aboard his vessel at every turn, but it was to late. before Maltau could register the command, the soldiers were climbing aboard. They immediately surrounded our “town square”. They were  completely in black – black helmets, black visors, black combat boots and black fatigues. They were armed with guns that put the Taliban’s AK-47 to shame. In Afghanistan a masked man with a gun usually meant death – or worse….. in total we had been welcomed by a party of 40-50 soldiers…… The horror of seeing these black-clad soldiers, remains with me today – and with many others who were there.  They did not speak…. were we their prisoners?….frozen in fear , no one uttered a word.

….For all the drama of the moment, Canberra had essentially deployed the most highly trained troops in Australia to seize an unarmed, anchored vessel – a task that could easily have been performed by the local habour master.                                                                                                            After the Tampa Pp 18-170

Parallel

Ash Wednesday March 2 2022

Takes me back to Ash Wednesday March 2 2022, Parliament Grounds in Wellington. I was there as a nurse that day, treating  people for lacerations, a deep cut to the head, shins bruised and bleeding, all after been physically beaten, kicked or assaulted by the police. I witnessed pepper spray, sprayed at arms length right into peoples faces by police. I saw big plumes of yellow and orange substances sprayed over the crowd by the police. I saw police with high pressure fire hoses knocking people over , causing them to retreat back from their own tents and belongings.  I saw rubber bullets fired at close range at protesters who were trying to stand their ground. I saw 100s of police, in full riot gear with face shields and visors, advance on the people from every angle, forcing them to retreat, leaving their tents and possessions behind. Buses had been arriving all afternoon at Bowen Street with more police, there was literally 100s and 100s of these highly trained riot police attacking their own people..

I was there trying to help with pepper spray in eyes and faces, one guy had a fractured hip, people were crying, highly stressed and hurting. The Electro Magnetic Field was turned up high, we all started to get head aches, nausea, confusion.. we were like sunned mullets actually, watching, unbelieving, that such a thing could be happening in New Zealand.

The horror of seeing these lines of police holding shields, pepper spray and water cannons remains with me today – and with many others who were there.  They did not speak…. were we their prisoners?….frozen in fear , no one uttered a word….  Well maybe there were a few abuse words said to those cops!!!

In news about the anti-mandate protest, just over 1800 police staff – one in eight of the total police work force – were seconded to Wellington during the Parliament occupation between February and March.    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300560991/covid19-outbreak-situation-report-what-happened-today-april-7

 

But Howard had bigger plans. That evening he introduced before Parliament one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in modern Australian history. The Border Protection Bill….. gave sweeping powers to the government to refuse entry to anyone seeking asylum in Australia.

Meanwhile on the Tampa everything was suspended. With total media blackout we may as well have been floating in outer space. nothing and no one was to leave the Tampa without SAS approval. No one could board without SAS approval. The Australian Government was determined to deny the voting public any glimpse of us, any details of our stories or the reality of life on board. We were not fellow human beings desperately fleeing death and torture; we were pawns in a political game. We were an issue for national security. The strategy was carried out with surgical precision while e were held at gun point.

After the Tampa  P172

This is an amazing story, well worth a read as Abbas stays incredibly focused on his dream both for himself and for his parents. It brings me a lot of hope, his steadfast faith in God, his passion to achieve his goals at all costs and the truth that if we do not give up or give in we will win this battle.

We have had some of our own, very highly contentious pieces of legislation passed in NZ during these last 2 years. Maybe also in our history.

 

Some of these include:

 

Digital Identity Services Trust Framework

Bill Food Bill 160-3

COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill

COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill

Abortion up to Full Term Bill

Anti Conversion Therapy Bill

Therapeutic products regulatory regime

Firearms Prohibition Orders Legislation Bill

Security Information in Proceedings Legislation Bill

Protection of Journalists’ Sources Bill

Education and Training (Freedom of Expression) Amendment Bill

 

 

References

The Book   “After The Tampa. From Afghanistan to New Zealand ” Abbas Nazari

Therapeutic products regulatory regime | Ministry of Health NZ

Food Bill – New Zealand Parliament (www.parliament.nz)

Bills (proposed laws) – New Zealand Parliament (www.parliament.nz)

 

 

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