Australia Day snub for refugee's citizenship ceremony

- Posted in Australia by Visa Bureauon 27 January 2012

Samil Aminov, 63, was invited to the citizenship ceremony in Sydney by Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and, according to the official rules, should have been personally presented with the certificate; instead, Mr Aminov's certificate was slipped in to an envelope presented to his wife Alija and he was prevented from going on stage.

The Aminov family, including son Marat, has made national news in Australia in the past due to a number of high profile protests, including a 10 day hunger strike on Parliament Lawn. Marat, a legal resident, protesting on his parents’ behalf, vaulted the railing at federal Parliament during question time and doused himself with petrol outside Parliament House, threatening to torch himself.

The protests were to draw attention to the Aminov's 14 year battle to secure refugee status. Samil and Alija Aminov, Dagestan ethnic minorities from Latvia, were granted Australian visas in 2010 and were invited to attend the Australia Day ceremony to receive their citizenship.

Originally only Mrs Aminov had been invited to the ceremony but refugee activist Jamal Daoud wrote the immigration minister to request that Mr Aminov be allowed to attend; Mr Bowen intervened and invited Mr Aminov just days before the ceremony.

Marat Aminov stated that his parents placed great importance on the ceremony and was disgusted that his father was prevented from taking the stage and receiving his certificate.

"I feel like my father was cheated out of the opportunity to participate in the ceremony after more than a decade," said Marat Aminov.

Officials at the Parramatta Council which hosted the ceremony blamed an administrative error for the incident, claiming that they mistook Mr Aminov's name for a child as children aren't expected to collect their own certificates.

They apologised for the incident and invited Mr Aminov to their next ceremony to collect his citizenship publicly.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.