Refugee’s ordeal sparks a passion for justice and fairness
Running for his life through unfamiliar streets on the outskirts of the Afghan town of Shindand with armed kidnappers in pursuit was the last time refugee Mehdi Hassani saw his brother alive.
The pair had been bundled into a car with bags placed over their heads as they walked out of the airport terminal building after a short holiday.
“I had been on a holiday with my brother and as we walked out of the airport a car came up and offered us a lift. But before we could react we were put into the car and blindfolded at gunpoint,” Mehdi said.
“The car drove for about an hour and then it stopped. They – I think they may have been Taliban or criminals – made us get out of the car and push,” he said.
“I was talking to my brother saying that if we did not get away we would probably end up dead. So, we both ran away pulling the bags off out heads as we ran.
“They fired at us as we ran. I didn’t know where I was and I lost sight of my brother,” Mehdi said.
He finally made it to safety but Mehdi says he never saw his brother again.
“We don’t know what happened to him and my family still doesn’t know.”
Mehdi said that in the weeks that followed his parents received threatening phone calls.
“The calls were from people saying ‘we have you son – bring us the other one or we will kill him’.
“My parents told me that I should leave the country – they said they had lost one son and didn’t want to lose another,” he said.
Mehdi said his family were still receiving the calls months after the incident.
“They have to keep moving houses to stay safe,” he said.
He said he was targeted because he had an IT job with a foreign-owned construction company.
Mehdi says he paid a people smuggler $US12,000 to get him to Indonesia.
There he applied for and was granted a humanitarian refugee visa through the United Nations and arrived in Australia last November.
His experience of corruption and lawlessness in his home company has instilled in him a passion to become a police officer.
“I see what happens in my country and it makes me angry and sad. In Afghanistan there is no law and no justice. If you are strong you can do what you want and if you are poor you can do nothing,” he said.
“I want to become a police officer in Australia. I want to uphold the law. This is a good country where things are fair and everyone is equal in the law.
“Coming to Australia has saved my life and I am grateful for that. I would like to do something to give back and to make a contribution to the country,” Mehdi said.
The 22-year-old has improved his English with lessons at migrant refugee settlement agency AMES and completed a first aid course. He is about to start a lifesaving course and plans to study for a Certificate IV in Justice at TAFE before applying to join the Victoria Police.
He said he has been helped by his AMES teachers and counsellor to identify a pathway to help him achieve his goals.
“I know what I need to do to achieve my dream of becoming a police officer and I am on that pathway and I am determined to get there,” Mehdi said.
AMES Senior Journalist