Report for “The Courier” 26 June 2013.
MEET THE AUTHOR; ROBIN de CRESPIGNY
Talking about her book “The People Smuggler”
The Stirling Library was in full swing last Tuesday night with around eighty people listening with keen interest to Australian Award Winning author, Robin de Crespigny. She explained how she met Ali Al Jenabi and came to write his amazing true story. As a young Iraqi boy, Ali’s family were caught up in the Saddam years of terror. Ali, his father and brother were imprisonmed for years in the terrible Abu Graib prison. On his release, Ali fled with his Mother, remaining brothers and sisters, eventually arriving in Indonesia to seek safety in Australia by boat.
There he took on the task of arranging for boats to bring all his family and others seeking asylum to come to Australia in 2001 to 2002 when “people smuggling” was not a crime in Indonesia. His family and 99% of those he brought here gained citizenship, but Ali was denied this status for himself as the Australian government prosecuted him as a “people smuggler” convicting him to four years in prison. On his release, he was again detained and now for years has remained in limbo awaiting deportment, despite having done his punishment, been found to be a legimitate refugee and being cleared by ASIO. His case has been taken to the highest levels on many ocassions for review but to no avail.
This true story gives Australians a chance to look at the current hysteria and demonisation of “boat people” and “people smugglers.” It is an honest account which allows audiences and readers to ask themselves, what would we do if we were in their situation? His actions have often seen him referred to as The Oskar Schindler of Asia.
Robin’s talk outlined the dillemma that so many families face fleeing wars and persecution. An interesting and sympathetic discussion followed her talk with many wanting to buy her book “The People Smuggler” and pass it on to their friends to better understand this issue.
Robin’s website is www.thepeoplesmuggler.com. The site also has much information about the book. She also has a Facebook page. Thanks to the Adelaide City Council, the Stirling Library, Hills Circle of Friends and Matilda Books for hosting such a stimulating event.
Hills Circle of Friends.