Robin de Crespigny, Ali al Jenabi, Heather Ewart (facilitator)
Ali al Jenabi’s story is so remarkable as to be almost unbelievable. After he escaped from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and made his way to Indonesia, he was betrayed by the people smuggler who was supposed to get him to Australia. So he went into the business himself. There are perhaps few as demonised in today’s Australia as the people smuggler. In her book The People Smuggler Robin de Crespigny opens our eyes to the true story of one man, how he survived and what motivated him in this business. Robin de Crespigny and Ali al Jenabi talk to Heather Ewart.
Robin de Crespigny (Australian)
Robin graduated from Melbourne’s La Trobe University with an arts degree in literature. She travelled in Asia, ran the Limerick Castle - a wine bar and music joint in Sydney - then left for America. In New York she worked in film before returning to Melbourne to study directing at Swinburne Film School and setting up her own production company. In 1996 she became the directing lecturer at AFTRS and continued writing film scripts. She began writing the book The People Smuggler in 2008.
Ali al Jenabi was born in Iraq in 1970. In 1991 he was caught by Saddam’s army during the Shiite uprising and imprisoned in Abu Ghraib for four years. When released he joined the resistance in Kurdistan but soon his mother and remaining seven siblings were in danger. He helped them escape to Iran, then went ahead to try and reach Australia. In Indonesia he became a people smuggler to get them to safety, and came to be known as the Oskar Schindler of Asia.
Heather Ewart (Australian)
Heather Ewart is the National Affairs Correspondent for 7.30, but recently has been covering federal politics in Canberra, as the Chief Political Editor. She is one of the ABC’s most experienced and skilled reporters and presenters. She was the ABC’s London correspondent in 1983 and then in Washington, during which she reported on the Gulf War, the election of Bill Clinton and the first term of Clinton’s presidency. She was then posted to Brussels as the ABC’s Europe correspondent before returning to Melbourne in 2001.