Danny Lannen | February 23rd, 2013
AFGHAN refugee Abdul Kalaani quietly and reverently listed the names of three of his sons. Matiullah was 12, Najibullah 10 and Mohammad Yasin 8.
Mr Kalaani’s inconsolable learning in Geelong this week was that all three were killed in last weekend’s bombing in the city of Quetta, Pakistan.
Today he will start his journey from Australia to be with his wife Tahira and six remaining children in grief.
Mr Kalaani is 57.
Exiled from Afghanistan to persecution in Pakistan, he arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker in October 2010. As soon as he could he submitted reunification visa applications, hoping good grace might allow his family to follow.
Yesterday, during an interview washed by tears, he held his head in his hands and said he felt now like his heart knew no home – not in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan, not in Australia.
“They were waiting to hear a yes, you can come to Australia,” interpreter Ali Ahmadi relayed.
“If the rest of the family comes, those three he can’t bring.
“They will be lost forever.”
Mr Kalaani spoke through this pain to highlight the plight of his community in Geelong about 300 Afghan men seeking sanctuary for their families but feeling increasing hurt in the face of heightened Australian visa submission regulations that have demanded them to re-submit years-old reunification applications.
Chiefs of Geelong settlement agency Diversitat have branded the changes as inhumane.
Mr Kalaani was with his community members on Monday afternoon when they walked central Geelong streets in a march for peace in response to the latest Quetta bombing, calling for international humanitarian action to prevent more slaughter.
At that time he was unaware of his own loss. His family lives close to the bazaar and to the school where his children attended classes.
The boys had gone to the bazaar after school when up to 1000kg of explosive hidden in a water tanker was detonated, levelling buildings, claiming more than 100 lives and injuring hundreds. The impact of the blast blew out windows in his family home, cutting Tahira’s face and arm.
Mr Kalaani said his wife had not been able to bring herself to say the words to him over the phone that their sons had died, but through other conversations he knew.
“His wife told him come, and you will see for yourself,” Mr Ahmadi said.