Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Interpreter: With Kim Asher

Shah Sight
Kim Asher, I know you live in Australia, but I don't know where about, do you want to tell us a little bit about it, and I also know that you have ordered many copies of my book The Interpreter for yourself and many friends, can I ask you why you got interested in this book, and why in that extend that you have ordered many copies, tell us something about it, we would love to know?

Kim Asher
Blimey - this answer could take aaaaages! I live in Melbourne, which is the capital city of the state of Victoria, which is in the south-east part of Australia. 7 or 8 months ago I met my first Hazara refugee (who was an interpreter for the allies back in AFG) and since then the number of Afghans (particularly Hazaras) in my life has exploded! A particular group of my Hazara friends were all interpreters, which is why they became refugees and came to Australia - a very long and dreadful trip that tends to involve a lot of danger, a lot of ill-treatment and imprisonment in Indonesia and Malaysia, frightening and dangerous boat trips, then the agony of uncertain futures and a complete lack of information and months turning into years in detention camps here in Australia.

Kim Asher I now have a Hazara housemate that I met on Facebook through my other mates - he is very young, has no idea where his family is and calls me "mum". :) He got out of camp 2 months ago and we took him in and take care of him and make sure he had a family and friends and as good a future as we can help with.

Kim Asher
I am also trying to help one of the interpreters get out of Curtin detention centre (the camp all my boys came through), which is in the far north-west of Western Australia. It is in the middle of nowhere, he has been there for 2 years after spending 6 months in an indonesian prison, after spending 2 weeks on a boat that was MEANT to go to Christmas Island, but actually limped back to Indonesia after getting lost and running out of food and water.

Kim Asher
He is very traumatised, very ill, very depressed and very sad. He received his "positive result" 11 months ago - meaning the government announced "we believe you are a genuine refugee" - but he is still there and no one will tell him anything. It's disgusting. He has family in Perth, which is several hours' flight south of his camp, but they will not let him go there to be closer to his family. It's wicked what we have done to him.

Kim Asher Anyway, I am fighting for his rights, to get him moved, to get him freed, but we have no idea what is going to happen.
36 minutes ago · Like

Kim Asher Also, the closest restaurant to my house is an Afghan restaurant. Through the restaurant, we met an Aussie guy who works for the Australian military and who will soon be training members of the Afghan military. He studied Dari and Farsi in 2011 and is now fluent in both.

Kim Asher It is him that I lent my first copy of your book to. :} He is now studying overseas and I don't know where the book is. I'm not fussed - I've ordered 2 more so that I can read one and someone else can read the other. I would like to see what my Afghan interpreter friends think of it - reading it could be good therapy for them, or good English practise and study, or both! :)

Kim Asher I am interested in the book because I want to know as much as I can about the lives of my friends and about how things are over there in AFG.

Kim Asher
As a feminist (observing the Taliban, women's rights and women's problems) and a very loud critic of American foreign policy and American military invasions, etc, etc, I have been watching Afghanistan for a long time and meeting all the Afghan guys has been an amazing opportunity to find out as much as I can from Afghan people (not just the media) and to try help them as much as I can in order to undo the damage various governments in several countries have done to them. It also helps me to help them because I feel so guilty about what our government policies (which exist in the form that they do in order to appease the most stupid people in Australian society) have done to them.

Shah Sight Kim, it was lovely to get your answer, I appreciate your time, thank you so much.

Kim Asher Khahesh mikhonam, azizam. :) My pleasure - I look forward to actually _reading_ the book when it arrives again! :D Thank you for writing it and for spreading the word and helping outsiders understand what goes on in AFG.

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