Asian Australian Alliance flays ban on Australians returning from India amid COVID-19 second wave

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New Delhi, May 14 (PTI) The Asian Australian Alliance (AAA) on Friday called upon the Australian government to withdraw its decision on penalising Australians defying the travel ban to come home from India.

Condemning the harsh penalties imposed on Australians returning from India, the AAA said, 'This is discriminatory when no such penalties were imposed on people returning from other nations even at the height of the (coronavirus) pandemic in those countries.' 'To arbitrarily criminalise the return of a person to their own home and families is also a blatant disregard of human rights. Any curtailment of human rights needs to be proportionate and necessary,' the association of Asians based in Australia said in a statement, while noting that the current ban is neither appropriate nor required in the circumstances.

The AAA has also started a petition that demands the Australian government immediately withdraw its decision to impose fines up to 66,000 Australian dollars or five years of imprisonment for anyone defying the travel ban preventing Australians returning home from India with immediate effect. 'The unjustified and harsh penalties imposed on the return of Australians from India is an unprecedented act to target particular communities and is racial in nature. No such ban, let alone penalties were imposed on returning Australians from any other country. This is nothing new, systemic racism has been the fabric of Australia and this is just another form of that racism,' said Molina Asthana, the Co-founder and Lead Victorian Convenor for AAA.

Erin Wen Ai Chew, the Co-founder and National Convener for AAA, said, 'Back in early 2020, Australians in China who returned were sent to the Christmas Island Detention Centre for quarantine, and those who had legitimate visas were banned from entering. Now, Australians in India will be penalised if they come home. However, the Americans and those from the UK were allowed to enter Australia with ease.' The Australian government, for the first time in history, recently imposed a ban on its citizens from returning home, if they have spent time in India up to 14 days before flying back.

The government threatened to prosecute them with a possibility of five years of jail term or a penalty of 66,000 Australian dollars (USD 50,899).

The move aims at keeping the COVID-19 spread in check in Australia as India is facing a surge in infections. PTI SKC SMN SMN

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