Deathscapes

Perpetual Insecurity 8b - Strange Fruit: Dr Habib Wahedy

Deathscapes

Strange Fruit: Dr Habib Wahedy

[imagecaption] ‘The Crying Sky’. Artwork: Murtaza. [/imagecaption]

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On the outskirts of Adelaide, the overhead power lines at Murray Bridge supply Habib Wahedy, an Afghan refugee, with a temporary resting place. Strange fruit hanging from power lines in this nondescript Australian suburb, his lifeless body evokes the image of a public lynching…Suspended over the void, Habib Wahedy’s body condenses the abyssal state of the nation’s refugees: dislocated and displaced, homeless and stateless, they have been relegated to a nonhabitable locus inscribed by violence, fear, and persecution. (Pugliese, 2004)

In 2003, a number of Hazara men on TPVs were living and working in the small town of Murray Bridge on Ngarrindjeri land. Dr Habibullah Wahedy, a father of four, was a natural leader in his community, held in high regard by his peers. He had received a letter telling him that following the expiration of his TPV, he should return to Afghanistan. His struggles as a Hazara refugee, the ‘mental pressure’ he was experiencing and the intolerable pain of family separation were contributing factors to Dr Habib Wahedy’s suicide (Hamilton, 2015). The government’s self-serving responses to Questions on Notice regarding this death deflected blame away from the Department and instead attributed its own failure to Dr Wahedy and friends who had not compelled him to access psychological support services. A submission to a senate inquiry by LV Nayano Taylor-Neumann detailed how refugees living in Murray Bridge were struggling with the TPV regime.


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