Author(s): Dawood Amiri
Dawood Amiri is an ethnic Hazara who, in 2010, made the fateful decision to seek asylum in Australia. He arrived in Indonesia in 2010, and after various adventures and misadventures, was captured along with over 150 other refugees when he was about to board a boat headed for Christmas Island. After a long stint in detention, he escaped and began working for people-smugglers to raise money for his own passage and to help his fellow asylum-seekers. In six months, he organised more than 400 passengers for four different boats, but he never made it to Australia. Amiri was eventually arrested as a people-smuggler himself - after having helped gather passengers for a boat that was recklessly overloaded by his bosses and sank en route to Christmas Island, with the loss of 96 lives. Among the dead were two of Amiri's best friends; that day, he 'swore at God'. He was sentenced to six years' jail in Jakarta's Cipinang prison, while the kingpins, at the time, remained free. His story, despite appearances, is that of a man who considers himself humane and decent, who landed among thieves. It also provides surprising insights into the desperation of asylum-seekers and the economics of the highly organised people-smuggling industry, as well as the corruption that has enabled it.