Category Archives: HAS Exclusive

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This blog has been temporarily closed.  We will not be responding to emails. Please tweet/dm us at @HAS_Blog, if you have any queries.

We cordially thank you for being with us in this journey. We will inform you of our return.

Warm regards,

Team HAS

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As millions march in Kabul, Australian Hazaras take action

November 12, 2015 | Media Release

Australian Hazaras will hold a peaceful demonstration in Sydney (November 14) and candlelight vigils in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide (Friday November 13) in solidarity with a million Afghans who marched in Kabul on November 11, demanding justice for seven innocent Hazaras, beheaded in Zabul, Afghanistan.

The Hazara community in Australia stands in solidarity with tens of thousands of Afghans who protested at the presidential palace in Kabul and calls on the world leaders, including Australia, to protect Hazaras from the onslaught of the Taliban and Daesh and to pressure Afghan government to bring those perpetrators to face justice.

“Our community is in mourning today as those beheaded by terrorists were known to many of us here in Australia,” event organizer in Sydney Abdul Alizada said “A community member lost his brother and another lost his mother in this vicious and coward atrocity”

“We condemn the beheading of innocent Hazara women and children in Afghanistan and we want the murderers brought to justice, and I echo the words of the UN’s special representative, Nickolas Hayson who labelled the Zabul massacre a ‘war crime’.” said Mr Ali Khan, another organizer of the event in Perth.

“It is clear Hazaras are being targeted attacked in Afghanistan solely because of their ethnicity. The world knows it. Yet, our government in Australia has not acted to recognize the suffering of Hazaras in this country. Hundreds of Hazaras languish in camps and survive in the community with no certainty, and our people are constantly under pressure to be returned. The situation in Afghanistan is very volatile and especially for Hazaras and that is why our people seek safety and protection in Australia.”

“The protestors also call on the world leaders, the United Nations and human rights groups to stop the Taliban and Daesh slaughtering Hazaras in Afghanistan. The world should not witness another atrocity like Yazidi’s or Kobani to act, they should act immediately,’ another organizer, Rohullah Rahimi, said.

Many of the people taking part in the demonstration have fled the Taliban atrocity and some are still going through their refugee determination process.

[Editor’s edit: There are at least two Australian Hazaras whose immediate family member and relative are amongst those beheaded in Zabul, Afghanistan].

We urge the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to acknowledge the dangers Hazaras face in Afghanistan and speed up processing asylum claims of Hazara asylum seekers

Relatives of those beheaded in this latest attack that spurred the million strong protest, are available for interview.

Media contact persons: Abdul Alizada 0425350144 and Mohammad Veja 0457000566

Details of protest and candlelight vigils;

Sydney

The protest will be held on Saturday, November 14, 12pm to 2 pm at Town Hall Station, Sydney. For more information, please contact details contact Ali Ali 0403675327

Adelaide

Candlelight vigil will be held on Friday November 13 from 7 pm at Elders Park, Adelaide. For more information about this event contact Dave Gulzari on dave.gulzari@gmail.com or Rahimi 0425229391

Perth

Candlelight vigil in Langley Park, Riverside Drive, Perth from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. For more information, please contact, Ali Khan on 0432241555

Melbourne

Candlelight vigil on November 14, 5pm at Federation Square. For more information, please contact Rohullah Rahimi on 0422559117 or Ali Rahimi 0409530140

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The blind eye of UNHCR Indonesia – writes in detail an asylum seeker from Indonesia

September 08, 2013

Asylum+Seekers+Indonesia+Hold+Onboard+Protest+VL260OSfKsnl

When a person under persecution flees his country, he automatically becomes orphan.  There is a good saying that country is mother and a person without country becomes orphan. Life becomes miserable as an undocumented stranger in other countries where a human’s basic rights and needs are not given to him. An asylum seeker’s life is a miserable life in real. 

 Asylum seeking is an old issue which was focussed upon for the first time by the international coordinated efforts through League of Nations in early 20th century. The purpose was inter alia to protect human rights and render humanitarian assistance and resettlement solutions to the persecuted people fleeing their countries – whom I call the orphans. After establishment of United Nations Organization under its popular Charter in 1945, other refugee rights promoting organizations were founded and reinforced. UNHCR is one of such entities which is mandated to promote and run programs for protection of asylum seekers and refugees.

 Indonesia is a transit area for thousands of asylum seekers annually whose final destination is predominantly Australia. But among them are the asylum seekers that prefer to stay in Indonesia and approach UNHCR with a hope to get assistance to return to a safe normal life.

 As the only main UN entity for refugees, UNHCR is the first and the last hope of the asylum seekers that avoid joining the dangerous boat journey. Most of them had to flee their countries, to join the world of orphanhood, because of persecution, violence and life threats. They lost many things like peace, family members, honour, career and country. Has the UNHCR in Indonesia played a good role as their first and the last hope? As one of the asylum seekers my answer to this question is negative unfortunately. Not only this but also because of poor management, low performance capacity of some staffs and inadequate human and material resources, in several cases, UNHCR has exacerbated the already vulnerable mental and physical conditions of detained asylum seekers particularly.

 One of the biggest problems is UNHCR’s unbalanced and disorganised attention towards different Immigration Detention Centres. It has contributed to creation of a big difference, in terms of interviews and case processing, among IDCs in several locations. For example asylum seekers in Tanjun Pinang and Medan IDCs are interviewed within 1-3 months after registration, but those in Jakarta and Surabaya IDCs are usually interviewed within 6-12 months after registration. Similarly the time period taken to process cases and issue results after interview considerably depends on the manner and even nationality of the UNHCR Case Officers. In this way many unlucky asylum seekers have to wait for years in detention until they get refugee status from UNHCR. The Luck-UNHCR inter-relation clarifies that UNHCR has two eyes. One is blind and the other is sighted. Those in front of the sighted eye are lucky and those in front of the blind eye are misfortunate. But why should they suffer when their bad luck has roots in the incapability and incompetency of UNHCR? Actually their bad luck can be turned into good luck by curing the blind eye of UNHCR through better management of the resources, fair allocation of staff, capacity building and more accountability of Case Officers.

 UNHCR’s inaccessibility and selfish policies towards detained asylum seekers make their lives more miserable. While the life is already very troublesome for them because of poor behaviour and bad treatment of the Indonesian Immigration staffs. The fact that Indonesia has not signed the Refugee Convention is always enough reason for the Immigration Officers to ignore asylum seekers’ basic needs and treat them as criminals or undignified people. They do not want to understand that the asylum seekers are honoured personalities back in their countries and being an asylum seeker is not a choice for them. In this situation in detention, UNHCR’s inaccessibility and incapability exacerbates their anguish.

<p>Barat Ali Batoor</p>

A local government official flicks through the UNHCR files of asylum seekers registered in his subdistrict. PHOTO: BARAT ALI BATOOR Source: theglobalmail

 For asylum seekers in detention, contact to UNHCR has become an impossible job. Weekly, on Fridays, two hours contact time is allocated to the total asylum seekers and refugees. There are around 10,000 asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia. If half of this amount try to contact UNHCR on a Friday and if each successful person talks for 12 minutes, out of 5,000 only 10 can get the contact. In percentage there is only 0.2% chance of making the contact which is equivalent to no chance. I have tried several Fridays, but even by saying prayers and using certain magical words I have not been able to make a single contact. I am sure even the best magician in the world cannot make the contact for you! As far as the general email inbox of UNHCR (insja@unhcr.org) is concerned, I doubt if any one is assigned to check it properly and respond to the incoming correspondence. As far as I remember, none of the emails that my friends and I have sent to this inbox have received any response nor have there been any outcomes resulting from them. On the other hand, the Case Officers deny to give their contact number and email address to their interviewees, claiming that they are not allowed to do so. So the detained asylum seekers cannot receive information regarding their case nor can they provide any new vital information and concern for the case. I would like to ask UNHCR and concerned entities if this is fair. Should a detained anguished asylum seeker have the right to contact the office mandated to listen to his concerns and process his case? After interview if his family members have been recently killed in a bomb explosion or suicide attack or targeted killing, how can he add this to his case? How should he inform the Case Officer or UNHCR that he is going crazy in the ambiguous world of asylum seekers because his dearest ones have been killed recently? Does this type of new condition created after interview have importance for UNHCR? Principally this type of information should be added to the case which definitely helps to make a correct decision. If the information is important then how the contact should be made?

 It is a weird situation. Instead of having access to lawyers and facilities for consulting and organizing cases, asylum seekers are even further deprived of contacts with their case processing organization.

 If there is a will, the problems can be solved by UNHCR. They should increase the days and hours of contact and assign more Case Officers to listen to the issues and concerns. In this way the contacts to UNHCR will be made easily which can lead to a better condition for the Case Officers to give their contact numbers to their interviewees unhesitatingly. Because there will not be a flood of irrelevant phone calls to them. There will be other accessible relevant contact points available in UNHCR. Thus a proper communication between Case Officers and their interviewees will be insured.

 In response to such queries I have been usually told that UNHCR does not have adequate human resources. But this point cannot be a satisfactory justification anymore. It is a decade that UNHCR Indonesia operates with high number of asylum seekers. So the administrative needs and matters should have been solved by now. Its a long period. UNHCR Indonesia should get approval of enough funds through effective and efficient reasoning and proper justification of the need. Asylum seekers in Indonesia has a long history and has turned into a permanent phenomenon. Unfortunately the issue of inadequate resources is being used as a mere justification instead of seeking solution for it. Is it fair to let the asylum seekers suffer because of poor capacity of UNHCR? Why is not this capacity developed?

 It is one year that I am hearing about policies of UNHCR Indonesia repeatedly. These policies sound very rigid and non-humanitarian which show incompatibility with UNHCR’s mandated roles. The asylum seekers suffer from post-incident trauma and are worried about their families remained in crisis. On the other hand, they are treated inhumanely by Immigration Officers. In this bad situation, instead of helping them urgently, UNHCR’s shortcomings and oversight cause them to remain in detention for longer ambiguous periods. Remained with no other option they conduct hunger-strike to communicate and receive attention and to say that they are forgotten and the blind eye can not see them. But their final attempt for communication is suppressed by UNHCR’s policy. According to this policy UNHCR does not visit those on hunger-strike. So they are further abandoned in the dire situation. I understand that this policy is designed to prevent other potential hunger-strikes. But it would be fair only if the asylum seekers had other possible ways of contact and they were not compelled to conduct hunger strikes merely to communicate their concerns and cry out that they are victims in the unbalanced attention of UNHCR towards the detention centres.

 While Australia has increased its refugee quota for Indonesia to 700 per year, UNHCR’s working manner still remains slow to the extent that some asylum seekers have to wait for a year to be interviewed. Those being interviewed within 1-2 months are the lucky ones because they are in front of the sighted eye. Why is one eye of UNHCR blind? This can also be part of a policy. One month ago a credible person told me that UNHCR might not be able to provide 700 refugees to Australia this year because its process is very slow. I thought it was totally unfair if UNHCR might not manage to meet the quota while thousands of deservers are crazily waiting to get a pass through the refugee process. This maybe a wrong forecast and very pessimistic view, but one thing is sure that UNHCR in Indonesia tries to keep the number of refugees under a limit. In this process the victimized asylum seekers should be deliberately ignored for long periods. Therefore the slow working manner and lack of will to improve the system might have connections to this policy. The reason to this policy can be financial, operational and political. Maybe UNHCR thinks that if the asylum seekers were given refugee status in a fairly quick process, other asylum seekers around the world would be encouraged to migrate to Indonesia. This means more refugees, more asylum seekers and more load of works on the poorly organized weak structure of UNHCR. This policy makes a lesson of the asylum seekers in Indonesia to send a discouraging message to others. This is totally inhumane and victimizes the genuine asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia.

The problem is that UNHCR does not want to solve the problems by confronting them but instead turns a blind eye to them. The current working approach and continuation of unjust policies is not the solution to the issues. They do not suit the humanitarian nature of its works. I know that UNHCR’s work is not easy. It is full of problems and challenges. But they should not be used as excuse to do improper things. There is always a proper way of doing things. UNHCR should change and promote its approaches according to the need.

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Filed under Asylum Seekers in Indonesia, HAS Exclusive, UNHCR

“Another Boat Tragedy” by Habib Manavi – the lone survivor

April 19, 2013

in pakistan1

 

 

 

 

 

By Habib Manavi – edited by our staff

Another tragic incident happened in Indonesian Waters on April 11, 2013. There were almost 72 people on board on the boat – all ethnic Hazaras from war-torn Afghanistan. Only fourteen of them managed to escape the likely death after being rescued by fishermen, the rest are unknown to this date and most likely have fallen prey to the evil of sea and the reluctance of rescue agencies. BASARNAS – the Indonesian rescue agency had not only been informed by their counterpart in Australia but also by the survivors who had been captured by Immigration authorities once their foot touched the shores but an immediate search and rescue response did not take place, why? no one has the answer.

According to survived asylum seeker the boat capsized on Thursday at around 12 noon after nearly 10 hours of resistance against the rough waves. The Fourteen fortunate souls had gripped themselves to boat wreckage which eventually saved their lives whilst others were floating on the water and by evening had gone out of sight. There wasn’t any tool or water safety kits which could have helped them in resisting the waves. They had nothing with them and their phones were being confiscated once they  boarded the boat.

The unexpected help came after 24 hours, not from a rescue agency but some fishermen agreed to transport them to the nearest shore only if they pay $100 each to them.The fishermen handed these survivors to the local police station which arose the hope that they would be helped and measures would be taken to rescue the rest left at the sea but unfortunately none happened. Their belongings and money, they had with them in their little stitched pockets, were taken – steal is good word, by the Indonesian Police and in return they were told they could flee.

The ill-fated asylum seekers after being looted by police reached Bogor and approached International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) to get some sort of help from them but were refused straight away.

“We thought, IOM will help us and admit us to hospital as we were very sick, our face had burned down and infected, but surprisingly even looking at our obvious physical sickness, they (IOM) refused to provide any medical assistance” summarized a survivor in his own words.

This boat tragedy once again question marks the capability and ability of Indonesian rescue agencies who receive fund and logistic support from Australian counterpart. Despite knowing the fact that there was a distressed boat, BASARNAS, did not bother to send its team for rescue and search of the area. This apathy and irresponsibility utterly demonstrates the very indifference attitude of the authorities towards asylum seekers.

At present, the fourteen survivors are in Cisarua, Bogor – terrified, mentally paralyzed and also frightened that the smuggler may harm them for revealing their names to media. If they don’t receive any humanitarian assistance from the concerned organizations, they might again put themselves in waters.

Habib’s own story of survival can be read here: https://hazaraasylumseekers.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/sole-survivor-of-boat-tragedy-habib-writes-his-memoirs/

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Filed under Asylum Policy, Boat Tragedy, HAS Exclusive

Asylum seekers on hunger strike on Manus

March 28, 2013

Tent accommodation at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

Asylum seekers at Manus Island detention centre are on hunger strike, authorities say.

A NUMBER of asylum seekers at the Australian-run Manus Island detention centre have spent the past week on hunger strike, authorities say.

Eight asylum seekers went on a five-day hunger strike in protest at charges of fighting and assault levelled at them by PNG police, following a series of alleged incidents at the temporary facility on Lombrum Naval base.

One person is still believed to be still refusing to eat, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said on Thursday.

“There are indications that one remaining person is still on voluntary starvation, but they may have taken food and water recently although this has not been confirmed,” a spokesperson said.

The hunger strikers are part of a group of 18 detainees PNG police have charged with fighting and assault following a series of disputes at the centre.

DIAC says only 16 detainees were charged.

Manus provincial police commander Alex Ndrassal said police entered the site on March 21 to explain to the detainees why they had been charged.

“We went to explain to them the arrest situation and PNG law, and how PNG police do their work,” Insp Ndrassal told AAP.

Inspector Ndrassal said the hunger strike ended after police spoke to the group.

Police charged the group last month but the matter has yet to come before the courts.

Asylum seekers on Nauru have recently staged hunger strike and lip-stitching protests to protest at Australia’s offshore processing policy.

Refugee activists earlier this month said there were water shortages at the base.

Added: HazaraAsylumSeekers can confirm that all the asylum-seekers on hunger strike are ethnic Hazaras. An asylum seekers who wishes not to be named has told Team HAS that, 10 Hazara asylum-seekers have been on hunger strike from 21st of March to protest the baseless charges leveled against them. He further said that on March 21, an Iranian asylum seeker attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself in his room, but was hindered by fellow asylum seekers and admitted to hospital. Authorities, in an attempt to conceal the ‘suicide attempt’ which would otherwise have sparked another debate and posed questions on Government’s failed policy, charged Hazara asylum-seekers to sweep that incident under the carpet and save their faces. G4S guards have also conceded that many of the ‘charged’ asylum seekers were not even present in the compound at the time of quarrel.

(Unconfirmed) Names of Sixteen Asylum Seekers charged by PNG Police, ten of whom had staged hunger strike:

  • Javeed Raza
  • Mehmod Ali
  • Ewaz Ali
  • Irfan Ali
  • Nazeer Hussain
  • Syed Ali Raza
  • Habbib Ullah
  • Nazir
  • Mohammad Tabish
  • Ali Raza
  • Mohammad Ali
  • Haji Dawood
  • Mohammad Raza
  • Gholam Mohammad
  • Sardar Mohammad
  • Mohammad Hanif

Source: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/world/asylum-seekers-on-hunger-strike-on-manus/story-e6frfkui-1226608643305

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Filed under Detention Centers, HAS Exclusive, PNG/Pacific Solution, Torturing and Health Issues

A Hazara Refugee’s message

Juma Jahfari | March 16, 2013

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you will find it there,
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.
Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there is no place for us, my dear, yet there is no place for us. (sources)

Image Source: Google Images

It is not an adventureous journey that the asylum seekers take the risk to seek asylum in Australia. This is not fun as the sailors do while sailing a boat. It is their bad fortune that they don’t have peace in their country because of the politics of politicians who have jeopardized not only Afghanistan but also the whole world, who have snatched the rights of their freedom and the right of living in a peaceful life. They have the rights to seek asylum in a peaceful country either in Australia, Canada, or Europe etc.

The people who are called “boat people” instead of their beautiful names never flee their home country by their own choice if they have peace in their country. They are compelled to flee their country either it is because of the genocide killing of their ethnicity, religious believes, or substantial discrimination. Most of these Afghan asylum seekers who have fled and are seeking asylum in Australia, are from Hazara ethnicity. It is as clear as crystal, and have been the headlines of every newspaper of the world, “Protest against Genocide Killing of Hazara”. Hazaras’ History has been written by their own blood by the help of the quell of all cruel rulers of Afghanistan in the past where Hazaras have been always the victim of substantial discrimination,injustice, inhumanity…

Hazaras have always been in the darkness, as a blind person is, and now our people have found a sign of hope, a hope for life, a source of light in the darkness, a peaceful shore with its sound waves to seek asylum in Australia.

Today, I am really very happy that I am living in Australia such peaceful country, and also thankful to the government of Australia who has not only given me protection but also my human rights as to others. Hope Australian government will not deport my Hazara brothers to Kabul, Afghanistan, where they face treat, danger because of Taliban in Afghanistan. I am a proud Hazara Afghan Australian. I will serve my nation and defend my country (Australia) till the end of the journey of my life.

By: Juma Jahfari

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Filed under Deportation, HAS Exclusive, Life after detention, Talented Asylum Seekers

Photo Album | Missing Asylum Seekers from Boat Tragedy (October 26, 2012)

AH | March 07, 2013

Pictures: Asylum Seekers who are either missing or have drowned after their leaky boat sunk en-route to Australia on 26/10/2012. The boat was carrying 34 passengers and were all ethnic Hazaras.

The sole survivor of this boat tragedy Habib who had floated for three days on water is still in a detention centre in Jakarta waiting for UNHCR’s help.

More details of this tragedy here:
https://hazaraasylumseekers.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/asylum-boat-sunk-en-route-to-christmas-island/
https://hazaraasylumseekers.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/memories-haunt-sole-survivor-of-asylum-boat-tragedy/
https://hazaraasylumseekers.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/2405/
https://hazaraasylumseekers.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/lone-survivor-floated-for-three-days/

Photos: Supplied

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Filed under Boat Tragedy, HAS Exclusive