FILM maker and more recently author Robin de Crespigny was in Goulburn on May 18 to talk about her book ‘The People Smuggler’.
The story of Ali Al Jenabi who became a people smuggler after escaping Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers with his family was originally going to be a film, till she found the story far too complex to condense into a hundred or so minutes.
Robin de Crespigny told the audience at the Goulburn Soldiers Club on Saturday that she had been asked to do a film on the convicted people smuggler by several people had never started out to write a political book.
“His story tells the other side of people and the desperate ends they are willing to go to escape from the horrendous oppression and brutality of their homeland.” she said.
“Politicians have described Ali Al Jenabi as a “heinous criminal” and “scum of the earth” however the high court judge who sentenced him to the minimum possible term of imprisonment under the Australian laws described Jenabi as “the Oskar Schindler of Asia”.”
She read small snippets from her book that told of his escape from his homeland with family members and a journey of uncertainty and fear trying to reach anywhere that they would be safe. She explained that the family fled with virtually no money and at one point he became separated at a border crossing from his family.
She explained that after being ripped off by unscrupulous characters that were preying on the desperate circumstances of those trying to seek asylum, he decided he would try and organise his own boat to get to Australia.
Ali Al Jenabi’s motivation was not out of greed but an attempt to get his own family to ‘safety’ and at the same time help others in the same position as themselves.
During her talk Robin de Crespigny explained that the term ‘queue jumper’ was an incorrect description of boat people and that they did not effect the number of people or the time that it took for those seeking refugee status through the United Nations to be accepted.
The author is travelling to Australian regional areas between speaking engagements at various writers’ festivals to present lesser known facts of asylum seekers and Ali Al Jenabi’s real people smuggler story.
The People Smuggler: The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi by Robin de Crespigny is published by Penguin Books Australia, RRP $29.95.