A group of former senior Australian diplomats and prominent academics have resorted to a public petition to push theto help Afghan staff who served with defense forces and agencies in Afghanistan. The figures, who include former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans, former ambassadors to Vietnam Michael Mann and John McCarthy, and former China ambassador Stephen FitzGerald, are urging to institute an “urgent solution” to assist locally engaged Afghan employees with their visa applications. “His failure to do so is likely to result in many deaths which he, his colleagues, and our fellow Australians will have to live with for the rest of their lives,” the petition reads.
The group says the government risks repeating the “sameof judgment” made by the Whitlam government, which “abandoned local staff” as Cambodia and Vietnam fell to communist forces in 1975.
Mr. Mann told SBS News he doesn’t want to repeat what happened in Vietnam and Cambodia when many of his local colleagues were abandoned, and some Cambodian staff left to die.
“Nearly all 78 of them died, except for two people,” he said.
“So that’s why I feel so strongly about it because my friends … were killed by the Khmer Rouge.
“Bringing theseis a legacy for those who died.”
In, the group wrote a letter to Foreign Minister Marise Payne but resorted to the petition after a “disappointing” response signed by someone who didn’t put their name on the letter, Mr. Mann said.
The letter outlined that a process was in place and applications would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Theinsists it urgently processes visa applications under the Afghan locally engaged employee visa program. Still, all , the accuracy of their harm claims, and identification purposes. So far, 1400 have been resettled in Australia, with dozens arriving in the country recently amid the withdrawal of all coalition forces.
Afghans who worked withreprisal attacks by the resurgent Taliban, making significant territorial gains in recent weeks because they are considered “traitors” by the militant group.
Theface “insurmountable problems” with the application process given the closure of Australia’s Kabul embassy, fearing many will be murdered waiting for the lengthy approval process. Defending the government’s stance, said he would not fast-track applications that could bring somebody with “question marks” to Australia.
“If that person, as the intelligence might indicate, he has been working for the Taliban or has questionable, you know, work history since that time, there’s a lot of time and a lot of circumstances that’s elapsed in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2021,” he told Sky News on Monday night.
“We might decide that that person is not of good character anymore, and there is a doubt about whether we should bring them to Australia. “We aren’t compromising the security arrangements and checks we’ve got in place.” Mr. Mann said many of those working with Australia already had security checks done before employment. “If you’re employing somebody, you wouldn’t hire someone of bad character who would not necessarily pass, you know, the .
We want good people in Australia, but on the other hand, we also have to ensure that people we” Mr. Mann said it was unclear how many others are still waiting for their applications to be processed, and the government should outline how many remain on the waitlist.