Ok, I’ve thought long and hard on whether or not to post on this and some people may disagree with my views but there ya go. Since last Sunday evening a group of Afghan asylum seekers have been inside St Patrick’s Cathedral on a hunger strike. They are demanding to stay in Ireland as they believe they will be killed if they go back to Afghanistan. The story has been unfolding over the past week and the Dublin Community Blog has done an excellent job of tracking developments over the past couple of days. I’ve been following the coverage on the web but haven’t seen much of the reporting on RTE. However, I do feel I know enough about the situation to comment.
First of all I can understand the extreme nature and instability of Afghanistan. The Americans have created a pseudo-democracy in a country where war lords still hold sway over vast regions of the country. I’m not denying that these men probably went through a lot to get to Ireland and are desperate to stay. However, it is not acceptable to insist that the Minister of Justice make an exception in relation to any case for asylum. It’s simply not on. If we do it for this group then we’ll have to do it again and again. “Residents Against Racism” is supporting them but I believe that to boil this down to an issue of race is simplifing things unneccessarily. If I don’t support these guys am I a racist? I’m a believer in due process even though our system may not be perfect but it needs to be respected by everyone. Plus, these guys are now threatening to kill themselves if the Gardai intervene to remove them from the Church. A few questions to air:
- How did these guys get to Ireland? Did they come via Europe? There are many safe countries along the route from Afghanistan to Ireland where they could have applied for asylum.
- Why are they threatening to kill themselves in a place of worship? It shows a lack of respect for the faith of the people who attend mass there.
- Why are they so sure that if they return to Afghanistan they will be killed? Yes the country is in bits but how are they so sure? Gerry Ryan from 2FM asked the same question during the week and wasn’t given a straight answer.
I don’t consider myself racist. I support the fact that we provide asylum to people from war torn countries across the world. Starving yourself and threatening to commit suicide in a church should not allow you to ignore the fact that there is due process. If I’m labelled a racist for asking questions of these guys then so be it.