Anthony Albanese’s government has been slammed by a western Sydney community over plans to repatriate family members of ISIS fighters.
Under the plans, stranded Islamic State brides and their children will be allowed to return to Australia – overturning a years-long ban by the Australian government.
The women left Australia to join their husbands fighting for the Islamist terror movement before it collapsed in March 2019.
However, members of western Sydney’s largest Assyrian community in Fairfield, many who fled Syria and Iraq to escape ISIS, have been hit by the government’s change in policy.
“ISIS raped our women and burned down our churches and homes,” said Fairfield Deputy Mayor Reni Barkho, an Assyrian who migrated to Australia in 1994 and has several family members who escaped ISIS.
‘We can never forgive or forget or welcome those who traveled to help persecute us in our own homes in Iraq and Syria.
Fairfield deputy mayor and Assyrian immigrant Reni Barkho (right) has criticized the plan to bring back Australian ISIS brides
Assyrians are mostly a Christian ethnic minority who have been persecuted by the Islamic State
‘We are grateful that Australia gave us refuge, but Prime Minister Albanese should not be bringing anyone back into our society who chose to support ISIS.’
Assyrians are mostly a Christian ethnic minority who have been persecuted by the Islamic State.
In 2015, ISIS attacked the Assyrian village of Tel Tamr in northeastern Syria, killing 64 defenders and kidnapping 231 men, women and children, while also destroying 11 churches.
Tony Abbott’s government then issued 12,000 visas to religious minorities fleeing ISIS, with the majority going to Assyrians, many of whom settled in the Fairfield area.
Fairfield sits in the heart of Energy Minister Chris Bowen’s electorate in McMahon.
Assyrian community activist Jacqueline Georges, secretary of the Coalition of Assyrian Parties in Australia, has criticized the government’s plans.
“We are not happy and we hope the government reverses its decision and says no because everyone in our community and around the world knows what ISIS has done to our people,” she said, according to Daily Telegraph.
She discussed the plight of the Australian ISIS brides, adding that it is not “wise for them to come and live again in this peaceful country”.
Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone added “they will never be welcomed in our city where so many have fled for refuge after being persecuted by ISIS”.
‘Anthony Albanese must never forget that many here have had their families killed and homes burnt to the ground.’
In 2015, ISIS attacked the Assyrian village of Tel Tamr in northeastern Syria, killing 64 defenders and kidnapping 231 men, women and children, while also destroying 11 churches
“We won’t be safe if they want to be here – these people would want our heritage to disappear.”
“If Albo loves ISIS sympathizers so much, he can set them up in his own neighborhood or maybe send them to Scotland Island,” he said.
Aussie intelligence services believe leaving Australians in squalid camps could pose a greater threat to national security than bringing them back, as their plight could be used to recruit more Australian Muslims to join terrorist organisations.
As a result, 16 women and 42 children held in north-eastern Syria’s al-Roj prison camp near the Iraqi border will be repatriated in the coming days and weeks following ‘risk assessments’ in August and September.
It is understood that all those repatriated will be subject to intensive surveillance by security agencies and some will face terrorism charges as it was illegal for many at the time to travel to Syria and Iraq.
‘The Australian Government’s overriding priority is the protection of Australians and the Australian National Security Council,’ a spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said on the matter.
“Given the sensitive nature of the matters involved, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”