Slow track to dawn: Asylum seekers submit their futures on an excruciating process

 Nasir* waited almost five years for the chance to state his case for being given refugee status and protection in Australia. Then he had just a single day to nail it.

If the 29-year-old Rohingyan felt the pressure as he sat across the desk from a lawyer two years his junior in a Collingwood office on a sunny autumn day this week, it did not show.

Over more than four hours, Nasir told his story of persecution: the harassment by local Buddhists and the military; the random violence; the denial of the most basic rights (like being forced to leave school after two years); the forced (and unpaid) labour.

His voice was soft and his answers short, as if detachment was a mechanism of self-protection. When he described being bashed and imprisoned for getting married without the authorities' permission, it is almost as if he is talking about someone else.

Then he was questioned about his time in transit in Malaysia, where he was able to obtain an identity card from the United Nations refugee agency, but could only work illegally, under the threat of arrest or extortion.

Finally, he was asked about the decision to pay a smuggler and the journey to Christmas Island on a leaky boat.

Read more about Nasir's* story here.



* The names have been changed to protect the privacy of asylum seekers.

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