It wasn’t London Calling but Australia for a punk rocker activist from Colombia set to be granted asylum after authorities ruled that his adherence to punk rock’s clothing, music and lifestyle made him vulnerable to persecution in his home country.
The man, who cannot be identified, told the Administrative Appeals Tribunal he first embraced the punk scene by listening to The Ramones and The Clash and wearing boots instead of shoes. He said he started dressing in punk clothing about 2002 and people crossed the street to avoid him.
The man said people told him he was “evil and a demon and a devil” and he had difficulty finding work because of his clothing, hairstyle and piercings but these “showed who he really was”.
The Colombian, who arrived in Australia in 2012 on a student visa, told the tribunal he had not come voluntarily but following an attack in his home country.
He said unlike skinhead punk rockers, he considered himself a leftist/socialist, and was against the abuse of animals, against poverty and all for equality.
He told the tribunal he had been involved in more than 50 student protests in different parts of the country and had been arrested and held for questioning but never jailed.
The man’s father, who lives in Australia, said his son ran a 100 per cent risk of being targeted if he returned to Colombia.
He said his son had been targeted because of how he dressed and his adherence to the punk subculture, and if he were to go back to Colombia, paramilitary groups would either make him disappear or would kill him and the father would never be able to find the son’s body to bury him.
In his judgment, tribunal member John Cipolla said the man did not appear to have a significant profile as an activist to bring him to the adverse attention of paramilitary and other groups that targeted student activists, but the Colombian had countered this argument by stating he stood out from the crowd as a punk and his profile had been raised by organising several protest events.
“The tribunal is prepared to afford the applicant the benefit of the doubt in accepting he was the subject of an attempted kidnapping in November 2008 and that this was attributable to his student activism and … his punk attire,” Mr Cipolla said. “The tribunal also accepts that the applicant possesses several overlapping characteristics that would heighten his overall risk profile in Colombia, including his adherence to the lifestyle, clothing and music of punk rock and his student activism … making the applicant a person vulnerable to persecution.”
He remitted the case back to the Department of Immigration for reconsideration.