File under; “Questions not asked or answered by the journalist“.
As reported, this is a tragic story of disadvantage, abuse and desperation.
As the Grauniad reporter Ben Doherty expects, our natural reaction is one of sympathy for a fellow human being whose entire life has been a series of events of terrible luck.
Can we ask some questions though, please?
First question; when did Said Imasi arrive in Australia and under what circumstances?
He admits to travelling on false passports, he says, because it is impossible for a person without a country to gain one legitimately.
Imasi arrived in Australia – by plane and intending only to pass through – in January 2010.
He got on an international flight with a false passport? Hands up who, in these post-911 days, likes the idea of getting on a plane with someone travelling under a false identity? You sir, Mr. Guardian Reader at the back, would you put your family on that plane?
Ok, next question; to an accuracy level of the nearest year, how old is Said?
He doesn’t know where he was born, or when. He has few documents to demonstrate who he is or where he comes from.
Imasi was born on or about 27 March 1989. He doesn’t know his exact birthdate, nor precisely where he was born.
That’s sad. It would make competing in a junior athletics competition a little tricky too, wouldn’t it? Yet somehow…..
That’s a mighty fine set of biceps and quadriceps the “teenage” Said is sporting there, relative to the weedy kids running next to him. It’s almost as if….. no, we’re imagining things.
Third question; other than for the international crime of travelling on false documentation, why is Said in a detention centre in Australia (well, on the Australian territory of Christmas Island)?
Oh, because he claimed asylum when he arrived in Australia due to fear of persecution. So perhaps the reason he’s not at liberty in Australia is because he’s undergoing the due process required by the Australian state to ensure the validity of the claims made by asylum-seekers?
Penultimate question; given that he’s living at the expense of the the Australian public and has requested they allow him to live among them permanently, is he motivated to help clarify their points of confusion about his background and the legitimacy of his claim?
The government has previously raised doubts Imasi is from Western Sahara and said he has been uncooperative, a claim rejected by the UN working group.
Oh, that’s awkward.
Final question; if his claim to be at risk of persecution were to be found to be valid, is he the type of person Australians would like to have as a neighbour?
From the article we can see that he has admitted to being a member of a criminal gang, drug-running, traveling under stolen or forged passports, violence and rape.
Although many of Australia’s citizens can trace their ancestry back to British and Irish criminals who were transported to the various penal colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, it is no longer a requirement or, indeed, desirable for new immigrants to be hardened criminals.
There is no doubt that Said Imasi has lived a difficult life beset with many cruel twists of fate. He has, however, lied like a cheap fake Rolex at every opportunity offered to him to explain his identity, background and any other pertinent facts which might support his claim to asylum.
The people of Australia are well within their rights to detain him away from their society until these uncertainties have been cleared up.
What happens next to Said is entirely down to Said’s choices; he can either come clean about who he is, where he’s been and what he has done prior to arriving in Australia or he can give just enough information to prove that he has been resident of another country long enough to be able to claim asylum elsewhere.
In the meantime, enjoy the free food, high definition TV, internet and Xbox games at the expense of Australia.