Our troubled times

One of Australia’s finest writers, Arnold Zable – a long-time refugee advocate – reveals the tragic life of John Howard’s forgotten people:

Amal Basry died on Saturday. Her death, after a long struggle with cancer, was a tragic irony; her life’s journey, a mirror to our troubled times.

She understood, intuitively, that her experiences had much to tell us about who we are as a nation, and how we can become a more just and compassionate society.

Amal and her teenage son Amjed were among the 421 asylum seekers who boarded a 19.5-metre fishing boat in the pre-dawn darkness of October 18, 2001, in a Sumatran port. At 3.10pm the following day, the boat, now known as SIEV-X, capsized and sank on its way to Australia.