June 09, 2014
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 Post, Newsweekand 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.”
*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.