A 21-year-old asylum seeker is understood to have been forcibly returned to Afghanistan, after last-ditch legal appeals for his case to be re-examined failed.After being told to gather his belongings at Yongah Hill detention centre yesterday, the man – who can be identified only as R – was taken from the centre, and is understood to have been put on board a flight from Perth on Tuesday night.Friends and advocates had not heard from him for several hours on Wednesday and believed he was on his way to Kabul.
R fled his home in Logar province in 2011 after the Taliban threatened his family because he had attended a vocational school that was seen as sympathetic to western ideas. After three threatening letters, R’s father and uncle disappeared – neither has ever been found – and R’s mother urged him to leave the country.
He came by boat to Australia, and lived in the community for three years before being redetained by immigration authorities.
R’s family has been threatened again since he came to Australia, and his two younger brothers were murdered in a Taliban ambush in 2013.
R is a Shia Muslim and an ethnic Tajik, both minorities targeted by the Sunni Pashtun Taliban.
But R’s asylum claim – made before his brothers’ murders – failed, and he exhausted all legal appeals to his removal.
Australia’s migration system does not permit any further merit reviews of his case, or allow for the consideration of new circumstances, such as the targeted killing of his brothers.
The Australian government’s first attempt to remove R failed when his escorts were refused visas by the Afghan embassy. Guardian Australia understands that has been resolved.
But the Afghan government has shown a consistent reluctance to accept forced repatriations. Several asylum seekers, deported from European countries after they were refused refugee status, have been refused entry to Afghanistan at the border this year.
Afghanistan’s minister for refugees and repatriation, Hussain Alami Balki, said earlier this year he opposed all forcible returns to Afghanistan.
Balki said Afghanistan’s deteriorating security situation meant it was no longer safe for Afghans to be returned.
“The situation in Afghanistan has changed now. Most of those who are being returned are coming from the provinces that are very dangerous and those who are being returned can’t go back to their provinces.
“They shouldn’t deport anyone because we can’t take care of them here.”
A spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said R “currently has no ongoing matters before the department”.
“People who have exhausted all avenues to remain in Australia and have no lawful basis to stay are expected to depart.”
The spokeswoman said: “Australia does not return people to their country of citizenship where this would contravene our obligations under international human rights instruments Australia is party to, including the Refugees Convention.”
Afghanistan, and in particular its previously relatively-secure capital Kabul, is currently seized by a wave of violence.
More than 50 people have been killed in the capital in the past week in terrorist attacks.
A power struggle within the Taliban – after confirmation of the death of its leader Mullah Omar – is believed to be one cause of the recent surge in violence9 and attacks on civilians.