Ethiopian asylum seeker faces deportation

welcome refugeesCommunity groups in Melbourne have come out in support of Ethiopian woman Yeshiwork Abrha, who faces deportation back home despite fears she will be killed.

Ms Abrha’s story was first reported in The Age last week after she was informed by the Department of Immigrant and Border Protection that her visa had expired.

Her bid for a protection visa was rejected and pleas to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene were ignored.

Without a valid visa, Ms Abrha will be sent to a detention centre, where authorities will prepare to deport her back to Ethiopia.

Ms Abrha is a member of the pro-democracy opposition group Ginbot 7. The group was declared a terrorist organisation by the Ethiopian government in 2011 as part of a crackdown on opposition political parties.

The ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, won the 2005 election amidst allegations of rigging.

Since then, the Ethiopian government has intensified clampdowns on political dissidents through the country’s anti-terrorism laws.

The latest Amnesty International report detailed the extent of human rights abuses in Ethiopia.

“Federal and regional security services were responsible for violations throughout the country, including arbitrary arrests, the use of excessive force, torture and extrajudicial executions. They operated with near total impunity,” the report said.

“There were also multiple allegations of the rape of women and girls by members of the security services.”

Ms Abrha arrived in Melbourne in 2011 and began working for the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture.

Her brother, who was also a member of Ginbot 7, was arrested in Ethiopia during this time and has not been seen since.

Many political opponents of the Ethiopian Government who have fled the country have been kidnapped and forcibly returned to Ethiopia in recent years.

Human Rights Watch documented cases of political opponents being detained, tortured and refused access to legal counsel.

Last year, hundreds of members from Melbourne’s Ethiopian community gathered outside the British consulate on Collins St to call for the release of British citizen and secretary-general of Ginbot 7, Andargachew Tsige.

Mr Tsige was abducted by Ethiopian security forces during a stop-over in Yemen. He was taken back to Ethiopia and is now on death row.

Victorian Labor MP Martin Foley wrote to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, asking him to grant Ms Abrha a protection visa.

“She has the support of many in our community, including UnitingCare, the Salvation Army and the Anglican archdeacon,” Mr Foley wrote.

“In these circumstances I implore the federal minister to exercise his discretion … [and] grant Ms Abrha a protection visa to ensure she is protected from persecution as a political asylum seeker.”

Anglican Church parishioners in Melbourne have created a letter-writing campaign calling on the federal government to allow Ms Abrha to stay. They have provided a template that Uniting Church members can use to contact their local MP and urge them to halt Ms Abrha’s deportation.

Image by Takver via Flickr.



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