Thursday, July 08, 2004

FROM ASMARA TO AUSTRALIA

Adil Saeed was born and bred in Asmara, capital of the newly emerging nation of Eritrea. He arrived Australia in 2000, after fleeing political violence and persecution in his home country.

In fact, during my discussion with him, Adil talks candidly about his experiences in Eritrea and the repressive nature of the regime in that country.

His father, a prominent businessman, Mohamed Saeed, was arrested on the way to work one day in 1994 and has not been seen or heard of since then. Adil reckons this was not an isolated incident because two of his former school teachers also disappeared the same day, without trace.

In recent years, such disappearances have become a regular feature of the Eritrean political landscape. The actual number of people involved is difficult to ascertain, but many of those opposed to the authoritarian tendencies of the existing regime are still missing; some presumed dead.

Although no-one knows for sure where Mohamed Saeed is, Adil undoubtedly believes that his father is still in prison in Eritrea and calls for his immediate release. “It is a very stressful situation for the whole family” Adil says, “I’m deeply depressed about the whole thing”. But, according to recent reports, the Eritrean government would neither confirm nor deny the arrest and detention (or otherwise) of Mohamed Saeed.

Meanwhile, Adil wants his mother and three brothers, who are now living in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, to join him in Australia. “I have been trying to bring them to Adelaide in the past two years but without success” he says, “ family
reunion is a very difficult proposition for refugees (and migrants) here”.

Adil still loves Asmara . “It is a beautiful place”; he says, with a strong feeling of nostalgia: and also loves Australia for the “ peace of mind and security” it offers. But his father’s release from prison and family reunion are the most important things in his life at the moment.

Your thoughts on Mohamed Saeed's fate will be highly appreciated.
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