Dawood Amiri is an ethnic Hazara who, as a young man, made the fateful decision to flee the terror being inflicted on his people, and seek asylum in Australia. He arrived in Indonesia in 2010, but was eventually captured when he was about to board a boat headed for Christmas Island. After a long stint in detention, where immigration processes failed to help him, he escaped and began working for people-smugglers to aid his fellow asylum-seekers, and to raise money for his own passage to Australia.
Amiri was eventually arrested as a people-smuggler himself, after having helped gather passengers for a boat that was recklessly overloaded by his bosses and sank en route to Christmas Island, with the loss of 96 lives.
Among the dead were two of Amiri’s best friends; that day, he ‘swore at God’. He was sentenced to six years’ jail in Jakarta’s Cipinang prison, while the kingpins, at the time, remained free.
A revelatory tale of compassion, love, sacrifice, and survival, Confessions of a People-Smuggler is a surprising insight into the desperation of asylum-seekers and the economics of the highly organised people-smuggling industry, as well as the corruption that has enabled it.
'[T]he devil is always in the detail with asylum policy … The back-story of Amiri's involvement in smuggling reveals the complexity of the issues at play.'
Peter Mares, Australian Book Review
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'[S]hows the human side of those fleeing their home countries and seeking asylum … starkly written and compelling, and will appeal to anyone seeking a more realistic, first-hand picture of the asylum seeker issue. It takes you into an underworld of desperate, stateless and unwanted people and shows a reality that so many of us turn away from.'
Books & Publishing
'I felt humbled to read Dawood Amiri’s Confessions of a People-Smuggler… While this book tells Amiri’s unique tale, it could also represent the experience of many people whose lives are lived in a mixture of fear, hope, duty, desperation and survival while they’re trying to get from one place of violence and persecution to a safer place, and the struggles they face in doing so.'
'[A] compelling memoir that offers insight into a fraught situation.'
Thuy On, Sun-Herald
'Kevin Rudd dubbed people like Dawood Amiri "the absolute scum of the earth". Now Amiri puts his side of the story. It's far different from the one our politicians would have us believe … What a pity such a decent and talented person who tried to help the desperate will probably never get to Australia himself.'
The Saturday Paper
'For over a decade, Australian governments have made a sport of demonising people smugglers. We rarely stop to wonder why people smugglers do what they do. This book is a chance to hear the facts from one of them.'