Tag Archives: hazara asylum seekers

Australia forcibly deports, for first time, Afghan asylum seeker

August 28, 2014

Australia has, for the first time, forcibly deported an Afghan asylum seeker to his homeland, with a 29-year-old ethnic Hazara sent back on Tuesday night from Sydney.

In the Federal Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Nicholas Manousaridis dismissed an application by the man to halt his deportation.

“Please help me,” the man, speaking Hazaragi, told the court through an interpreter.

Previous forcible deportations have seen Hazaras returned to Pakistan, but never to Afghanistan.

The 29-year-old ethnic Hazara, known to the court as SZUYW, first fled Afghanistan for Iran. Iran systematically deports Afghan asylum seekers and, having been ejected, the man then came to Australia by boat, arriving in December 2011.

His claim for asylum was rejected, and his appeal to the Refugee Review Tribunal in December 2012 failed, the tribunal ruling that it was safe to live in his home district of Jaghori, in central Afghanistan, which is majority Hazara.

“The Tribunal notes that there is a significant population living in Jaghori. His family are living there … [and] as there is a route from Kabul to Jaghori that is secure, there is not a real risk the applicant will suffer significant harm.”

The man told the court yesterday he feared the Taliban.

“Jaghori is confined, it’s like a prison, the surrounding areas are all controlled by the Taliban. Many people die on the way to Jaghori.”

The Taliban have made significant advances in recent months, and now control several highways surrounding Kabul, including the so-called “Death Road” to central Afghanistan, which is rarely travelled now after dozens of beheadings, kidnappings and bombings.

Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, said the Refugee Review Tribunal’s security assessment was based on information now more than two years old. More recent RRT decisions have ruled Jaghori district was not a safe place for Hazaras to return to.

“It makes no sense to send someone back to a country that is descending into war, which Afghanistan is. The security situation has deteriorated dramatically and will only get worse. Hazaras are being targeted by the Taliban.”

The United Nations General Assembly report on Afghanistan, from March this year, found the security situation “remained volatile” and that armed clashes had increased 51 per cent since 2012.

Australia has returned refugees to Afghanistan before, but never against their will. In 2001, 179 refugees from the MV Tampa were returned to Afghanistan, after agreeing to go back while being held on Nauru.

An investigation by Fairfax Media in 2011 found at least 20 returned refugees had been killed in their homeland, several had fled again, for Australia and other countries, while more than a dozen remained in hiding.

The Refugees Convention, to which Australia is a party, prohibits refoulement, sending refugees back to a place where their “life or freedom would be threatened”.

The man was taken from Villawood detention centre where he was being held, and left Australia on a 9:40pm flight.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australia-forcibly-deports-for-first-time-afghan-asylum-seeker-20140827-108oms.html#ixzz3BZFIgBkg

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Riding for refugees

August 15, 2014

PLIGHT: Afghani asylum seeker Rohullah Hussaini and Swan Hill Rural City councillor Michael Adamson are set to cycle to Canberra to raise awareness of refugee rights.

PLIGHT: Afghani asylum seeker Rohullah Hussaini and Swan Hill Rural City councillor Michael Adamson are set to cycle to Canberra to raise awareness of refugee rights.

 

An uncertain future

Refugee support

A BIKE and sheer determination are all Afghani asylum seeker Rohullah Hussaini needs to set out on the ambitious mission of bettering conditions for refugees in Australia.

Arriving in Australia in August 2012, Mr Hussaini has spent much of his life trying to survive.

As a Hazara man growing up in Ghazni, Afghanistan, a city near the capital of Kabul, he escaped his home country after concerns for his personal security reached a tipping point.

The Hazara people, primarily from the central highland region of Hazarajat in Afghanistan — which includes Ghazni Province — have been systematically persecuted by fundamentalist groups in the region since as far back as the 16th century.

These conditions have seen them become one of the largest groups of refugee people to seek asylum in countries that include Australia.

He initially sought asylum in Europe, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, before making the perilous journey to Australia.

Arriving before the Federal Government cracked down on ‘illegal’ refugee arrivals, Mr Hussaini has been able to find work as he waits to see if his application for asylum will be approved so he can remain in Australia permanently.

 

However, for refugees who arrived on Australian shores after a government policy change later in August 2012, they have no such right.

The hard-line approach to refugee issues in Australia has motivated Mr Hussaini to raise awareness of the issue through a 700km cycling trip.

Travelling from Swan Hill to Canberra, local councillor Michael Adamson will also join the pilgrimage to educate people along the way.

“I WANT TO SHOW PEOPLE THAT I AM A REFUGEE, I AM FROM AFGHANISTAN… AND THEY DON’T NEED TO BE SCARED OF ME…”- ROHULLAH HUSSAINI

They will set off on August 21, arriving in Canberra for the first day of parliament on August 26.

“I want to show people that I am a refugee, I am from Afghanistan… and they don’t need to be scared of me,” Mr Hussaini said.

Cr Adamson said they were hoping the marathon ride would help people to better understand refugees and why they chose to seek asylum.

“I think that people think in Australia that the Hazara people are coming here just because they want to, but if they could stay in their homes they would — nobody wants to leave their home,” Cr Adamson said.

“Whether they come by boat, or plane, or swim across the ocean — we should stop victimising them and dehumanising them.”

Mr Hussaini recently applied for a permanent visa to remain in Australia, but remains unsure if he will be granted asylum after it was initially refused.

The refusal was based on the deciding body — the Refugee Council — deeming it safe enough for him to return home.

“The thing is Australia doesn’t even have a consulate in Afghanistan because they say it is not safe — but they say it is safe for us to return,” Mr Hussaini said.

“I ALSO WANT TO SUPPORT THE ISSUES THAT SOME OF THE AFGHANI REFUGEES HAVE IN OUR COUNTRY… TO MAKE A STAND AND SAY THESE ARE REAL PEOPLE, WITH REAL NEEDS AND WE CAN’T TREAT THEM LIKE THEY ARE NOT…”- CR MICHEAL ADAMSON

When they arrive in Canberra, Cr Adamson and Mr Hussaini will present Member for Mallee Andrew Broad with a petition of names gathered in support of increased rights for refugees, and seek an audience with Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison.

“I want to support Rohullah in the process, I have done a number of long rides — it is not easy by yourself,” Cr Adamson said.

“I also want to support the issues that some of the Afghani refugees have in our country… to make a stand and say these are real people, with real needs and we can’t treat them like they are not.

“Rohullah is a great person and has made a great contribution to the community and yet he can’t get permanent residence.”

The pair are planning to cycle 150km each day, and are still looking for support along their journey.

Anyone is welcome to ride with the pair along the way, and supplies including some biking equipment, clothing and food are also sought.

To offer a hand contact Cr Michael Adamson on 0400 143 100.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com.au/story/2489928/riding-for-refugees/?cs=1270

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Regional Australia opens its arms to ‘at risk’ women refugees

August 11, 2014

Twelve months ago no Hazara lived in the south-east Queensland town of Toowoomba but now there are 200 women and their dependents starting a new life in Australia.

Twelve months ago no Hazara lived in the south-east Queensland town of Toowoomba but now there are 200 women and their dependents starting a new life in Australia.

Twelve months ago no Hazara lived in the south-east Queensland town of Toowoomba but now there are 200 women and their dependents starting a new life in Australia.

They are among the lucky 1,000 who secured “Women at Risk” refugee visas last year but came with no English, no husbands and no qualifications.

Women from Afghanistan receive about half the visa quota and are flown to Australia from refugee camps in Pakistan.

“All I have been feeling since I got to Australia is joy and happiness,” said Latifa Amini who arrived in March.

“Through this move and the help that I got is here, I feel safe, my children feel safe, we live in a home we know is not going to be attacked by anyone, we know there is nobody that is going to come and take away things from us, we are safe here, that’s the main difference, I feel at ease,” she said.

Since 1989, Australia has issued about 14,000 “At Risk” visas to women from 37 countries. Initially only a few hundred a year were offered.

Many have suffered torture and abuse; lost their husbands, fled war zones and have limited means to provide from themselves.

“These are some of the most vulnerable women and children in the world and we’ve (Australia) really made a strong international commitment to take women through this program. It’s something we can be immensely proud of,” said Kerrin Benson, head of Multicultural Development Australia the organisation that is supporting the Hazara women.

Latifa Amini arrived in March with her two sons and a sister and was brought straight to Toowoomba to start her new life.

“We’re delighted to have them here, we welcomed them when they first arrived, in fact we’ll have a celebration soon of their 12 month stay in Toowoomba,” said Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonoi.

“There was a deliberate move by council to become a Refugee Welcome Zone.

“We’ve had a lot of people coming here for a long time, and even if you look back in our early history, while that immigration was European, there was tremendous cooperation between cultures, the Irish, the Germans, who wouldn’t have known each other.”

Since the first Hazara arrive about a year ago they have been learning English and how to use their cooking and sewing skills to earn an income.

This weekend they put their results of their hard work to the test, with a food and craft stalls at the Toowoomba Cultures and Languages Festival, attended by about 15,000 people.

“My ultimate goal would be that I would not be a burden to the Australian community and government and people, my aim would be to be independent and work and earn enough money to live,” said Latifa Amini.

Toowoomba did make them feel welcome and the Hazara food stall sold out of everything.

“I want it to be like today, full of joy and happiness and we can present our culture through our handiwork or crafts, food or cooking, music. Today was a happy day,” Latifa Amini said.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/08/10/regional-australia-opens-its-arms-risk-women-refugees

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Women and children among Hazara passengers singled out and executed in Ghor Afghanistan

July 25, 2014

At least 14 Hazaas, including 3 women and 1 child, passengers are singled out and executed by Taliban in Ghor, Afghanistan

At least 14 Hazaas, including 3 women and 1 child, passengers are singled out and executed by Taliban in Ghor, Afghanistan

At least 14 Hazaas, including 3 women and 1 child, passengers are singled out and executed by Taliban in Ghor, Afghanistan.

The 15 killed were separated by the armed men after their national ID cards were checked, Provincial Governor Sayed Anwar Rahmati told TOLOnews.

An adviser to the provincial governor was also among those killed, said Rahmati.

Local officials said the victims of the shootout belonged to the Hazara ethnic minority.

“Four of them were members of one family,” said Governor Rahmati. “A groom and his bride and the groom’s mother and sister were brutally killed.”

The three vans – two heading to the capital of Kabul and one on its way from Kabul to Cheghcheran – were randomly stopped at one point in the isolated Lal and Sarjungal district.

Ghor Police Chief Gen. Fahim Qayem said an investigation has begun to find out why selected passengers were killed.

However, the suspected Taliban insurgents, blamed for most of the civilian causalities, have not yet commented about the incident.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his condolences to the victims families in a statement released by the Presidential Palace.

Karzai illustrated with strong words the condemnation of the inhuman killings of the innocent lives, calling it an unforgivable act against humanity and religious values.

Two weeks ago, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed its concerns about a 24 percent increase of civilian casualties in 2014 in Afghanistan.

Ghor governor called on the central government to deploy additional security forces to his province amid an increase in insecurity there.

Sources: http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15707-taliban-shots-dead-16-civilians-in-ghor

http://www.hazara.net/2014/07/women-and-children-among-hazara-passengers-singled-out-and-executed-in-ghor-afghanistan/

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Spotlight on Dandenong’s community of Afghan Hazaras by award-winning photojournalist Barat Ali Batoor

June 09, 2014

WBarat Ali Batoor is never far away from his trusty camera. Picture: Valeriu Campan

Barat Ali Batoor is never far away from his trusty camera. Picture: Valeriu Campan Source: News Limited

Barat Ali Batoor is always focussed on putting the spotlight on his community. Picture: V

Barat Ali Batoor is always focussed on putting the spotlight on his community. Picture: Valeriu Campan Source: News Limited

A WALKLEY-AWARD winning photojournalist will showcase an exhibition on the Afghan Hazara community next month in Dandenong.

Barat Ali Batoor’s work will be on display at the Walker Street Gallery from July 3 to 26 and aims to provide insight into the day-to-day lives of Hazaras in the city and the valuable contributions they make.

Immigration to Australia increased in the late 1990s as attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan rose substantially.

Today, there are an estimated 12,000 Hazaras living in Greater Dandenong and Casey.

Mr Batoor, a Hazara himself, worked as a photojournalist in Afghanistan and has been published in the Washington PostNewsweekand The Wall Street Journal.

The Dandenong local spent four months researching and shooting the exhibit.

“I was thinking about how much they must have changed from when they first arrived and didn’t have any education and English,” Mr Batoor said.

“This story is about that, and in the exhibition I photographed people who started as labourers or working in meat factories, but now have their own businesses.

“It is mostly success stories.”

Mr Batoor said the exhibition would shed light on both the Hazara culture and asylum seeker issues.

“All we get from the media and news is mounting propaganda about asylum seekers and refugees,” he said.

“We have thousands of asylum seekers on bridging visas with no work rights, but if given the opportunity they will also shine and contribute to the community.”

 

One of Mr Batoor’s images: Najafi Barber Shop in Dandenong Arcade. Picture: Barat Ali Bat

One of Mr Batoor’s images: Najafi Barber Shop in Dandenong Arcade. Picture: Barat Ali Batoor/Supplied Source: Supplied

 

*A Hazara’s life:

n Hazaras are the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, at about 2.8 million, and have a population of more than 500,000 in neighbouring Pakistan.

n They are mostly Shia Muslims, making them targets for violence by extremist Sunni Muslim groups such as the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangri.

n Thousands have been killed in recent years in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/south-east/spotlight-on-dandenongs-community-of-afghan-hazaras-by-awardwinning-photojournalist-barat-ali-batoor/story-fngnvmhm-1226945531506

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Tony Abbott, Hazaras are not economic migrants

April 27, 2014

400-oz-gov-customs

Tony Abbott, Hazara are not economic migrants!:

 Australian immigration department’s recent move to deny permanent protection visas to scores of declared refugees and customs and border protection services’ graphic novel aimed at deterring Hazara asylum seekers have not only proved shocking to thousands of asylum seekers but have also invited massive criticism from human and refugee rights activists and organization all around the world.

While refusing grant of permanent protection to the declared refugees, the immigration minister, Scot Morrison, quoted the clause 866.222 of the Australian Migration Regulations 1994 which says that anybody who gets to Australia by boat without visa is ineligible for getting permanent residence. Morrison introduced the draconian and discriminatory clause in October last as part of his hard lined policy against the boat people which was, however, voted down by the Australian senate on March 27, 2014. The credit to disallow the clause, no doubt, goes to the Greens leader, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young who is one of the big supporters of refugees in Australia.

The minister also tried to reintroduce the infamous “Temporary Protection Visa” of John Howard’s era, which was also rejected by the Labours and the Greens with majority votes in the senate. He also introduced a new “Code of Conduct” which imposes extra and irrational obligations on asylum seekers while living in community. This is somewhat similar to section 295-B and 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy law under which a person can be detained and sentenced to death on mere complaint of another person regarding violation of the law even if that person has not done so.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott also supports Morrison’s tough policies and has even termed it like that of a war against people smugglers, though, in fact, it is a war against asylum seekers. Tony Abbott must feel ashamed for issuing such a statement as it does not suit the country like Australia to declare war against a handful of people smugglers which is directly affecting thousands of persecuted and terrorism-hit asylum seekers from across the world who try to get to Australia by boat in a bid to save their lives. There are many other ways to cope with human smugglers, but a war against them at the cost of lives of poor asylum seekers is not acceptable at all under any law.

Over and above, the publishing of the graphic novel on Australian customs website deterring Hazaras from Afghanistan and Pakistan not to travel to Australia by boat and the advertisement “No way. They will not make Australia Home” on immigration department’s website is the worst kind of promotion to stop asylum seekers from choosing Australia as the place to take refuge. One can’t imagine that a civilized country like Australia could go to such an extent so shamelessly just to stop the people who are fleeing their countries to avoid persecution.

This pictorial story of the Hazara boy is a total negation of the plight and persecution of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trying to depict terrorism-stricken Hazaras as economic migrants is a misleading message being propagated by Australia across the globe. The way it shows the boy thinking about getting to Australia while working at an auto workshop, forcing his parents for arranging money for his travel, having lavish meals at restaurant and feeling remorse in detention centre for travelling to Australia is altogether false and quite opposite to actual facts.

It is true that Hazaras have got some representation in Afghan parliament and government as compared to the past yet they are still being subjected to persecution and discrimination in most parts of the country which is why Hazaras are fleeing from Afghanistan. Before producing such fact-distorting graphic novel, Morrison should have studied the report of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT’s) about Afghanistan (Note: Australian government has removed this doc from this URL) published on 31 July, 2013 which openly admits discrimination against Hazaras in Afghanistan on a wide range. Moreover, the UN report recently published reveals that the number of civilians killed and wounded in the conflicts in Afghanistan rose by 14% last year. Morrison should keep it in mind that he can make some naïve Australian fool for some time by such cheap tactics but can’t deceive the world by distorting the actual facts.

Abbott government must try to understand and highlight the reasons forcing Hazaras out of their native countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of launching a propaganda campaign against these helpless people for political point scoring.  Hazaras are not economic migrants as is being propagated by Morrison. Nobody would ever dare to undertake the risky voyage in a rickety boat in dangerous Indian Ocean to get to Australia for economic gains. The entire world knows as to what is going on with Hazaras in Pakistan and Afghanistan that is driving them out of their countries.

Asylum seekers whether they are from Pakistan or Afghanistan or any other country, all deserve to be treated in a compassionate and humane way. Those who travel by boat to get to Australia even deserve more compassion than those who travel by plane as they put their life at risk and are not sure if they would get to Australia alive or not. Interestingly, in Australia, the government has adopted quite an opposite policy and the asylum seekers who arrive by boat are treated as criminals and punished for their crime of putting their life at risk.

Australian government needs to reconsider its hard-lined policy against all asylum seekers in general and Hazaras in particular keeping in view the harsh treatment and brutalities they are undergoing in their native countries at the hands of Islamist terrorist groups.

Haider Ali

Sourced from http://www.hazara.net/2014/04/tony-abbott-hazaras-are-not-economic-migrants/

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Bogor authorities to evict asylum seekers

April 12, 2014

Hard life: Two Afghan refugees, Ishaq Ali (left) and Qurban Ali, repair water pipes leading to their rented house in Batulayang village, Cisarua district, Bogor, last week. Bogor authorities were to launch raid on illegals living on the Puncak mountainous resort on Monday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Hard life: Two Afghan refugees, Ishaq Ali (left) and Qurban Ali, repair water pipes leading to their rented house in Batulayang village, Cisarua district, Bogor, last week. Bogor authorities were to launch raid on illegals living on the Puncak mountainous resort on Monday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Bogor authorities are set to crack down on asylum seekers and refugees in the mountainous resort region of Puncak, although many local people have no objection to their presence and activities, which have reportedly caused no trouble for the community. 

Residents of Batu Kasur village in Batulayang said the asylum seekers and refugees, who have left their home countries in the Middle East, should not be removed, but that the relevant authorities should instead help them to solve their problems.

The villagers’ testimonies contradict a recent statement from a Bogor official, which said that the asylum seekers and refugees had caused trouble for local people.

“We want the regency of Bogor to be free of [asylum seekers] due to the trouble they have caused to local communities,” Bogor public security agency head Rizal Hidayat said.

He said last week that residents had complain about unruly behavior from the asylum seekers, such as bringing home sex workers and being rowdy. He added that their presence had become a nuisance.

A large number of asylum seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, are using the Puncak area of Bogor regency as a place of transit while they apply for official refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Jakarta.

Most of them hope to reach a third country such as Australia, due to the peaceful conditions and the perceived job prospects there.

In contrast to Rizal’s statement, 60-year-old vendor Popon said that she did not mind the asylum seekers living in her neighborhood because they all had exhibited good behavior and helped to boost the local economy.

“I don’t know about the asylum seekers in other villages, but over here, they do not cause any trouble,” Popon told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

According to Waspud “Budi”, a Kuningan-born resident who is renting houses to asylum seekers and refugees in Batu Kasur, those living in his neighborhood are abiding by the rules set by the community.

“In order to live in this neighborhood, we give them a set of rules to abide by, including not disturbing the peace of residents, respecting a 10 p.m. noise curfew and not bringing sex workers into the homes. So far, they have not broken the rules,” Budi said on Sunday.

Budi added that the presence of the asylum seekers and refugees had benefitted the neighborhood economically.

“They spend money at our warung [food stalls] and markets, helping to boost the local economy. They are also helpful people, despite not speaking our language,” he added.

The majority of the asylum seekers cannot speak English or Indonesian. Due to the language barrier, many of them do not interact with local residents.

“We rarely interact with the locals directly, but at the mosques we exchange friendly looks,” said Qurban Ali, an Afghan-born refugee from Quetta, Pakistan, who has been living in Batu Kasur for eight months. He has only been learning English for three months and speaks no Indonesian.

Similarly, Ishaq Ali, a 33-year-old former school librarian from Jaghori, Afghanistan, who is fluent in English, said that despite the language barrier, he found the residents helpful.

“The residents here are helpful. Even though I speak very little Indonesian, it seems to be enough for them to understand me,” he said.

Qurban and Ishaq, who are not related, are both Afghan-born asylum seekers. They have applied for official refugee status from the UNHCR office, and each share a house with four or five other Afghanis in Batu Kasur village. 

Qurban, a father of five who was previously a dried fruit merchant in Quetta, received his refugee card from the UNHCR eight months ago. After being granted legal refugee status, the UN said that he would be relocated to Australia. However, Qurban does not know when that will happen.

Ishaq has not yet received his card, due to the fact that he has only been in Indonesia for around a month.

When asked about the prospect of being evicted by the Bogor government, both men were unsure where they would go if they were asked to leave their current homes.

“If the [Bogor] government asks us to leave this area, I don’t know where I could go,” Qurban remarked.

According to the Bogor Immigration Office, 254 refugees are registered in Bogor regency. Over recent years, the administration has sent 257 asylum seekers to detention centers across Indonesia. 

On April 14, the Bogor Immigration Office — along with the Bogor public security agency, the police and the Law and Human Rights Ministry — intends to conduct a campaign to inform local residents, as well as the asylum seekers and refugees, of the plan to eject them from Bogor regency. 

The campaign will involve informing residents that lease their houses to the asylum seekers and refugees of the plan.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/04/12/bogor-authorities-evict-asylum-seekers.html

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