Tag Archives: hazara asylum seekers

Afghan Kidnappers Prey on Hazaras | New York Times

November 23, 2015 | New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — A campaign of kidnappings against the Hazara ethnic group intensified on Saturday as gunmen stopped a number of buses along Afghanistan’s main highway and separated out the Hazara passengers, officials said.

By morning, between 14 and 30 Hazara passengers had been seized along a stretch of Highway 1 in Zabul Province, in the south of the country, and taken away, three security officials said, each citing a different number of kidnapped people.

There have been numerous episodes this year involving Hazara motorists and bus passengers. While some of those kidnapped have been released after negotiations, others have been killed: This month, militants affiliated with the Islamic State are believed to have beheaded seven Hazara captives, among them a 9-year-old girl.

The government’s powerlessness to stop kidnappings along the country’s main highway — or to return the captives to safety — presents a growing political crisis to the presidency of Ashraf Ghani, just over a year old. After the seven captives were killed this month, thousands of mostly Hazara protesters carried the coffins to the presidential palace, in what was the largest political demonstration in Kabul in years. Guards shot and wounded as many as 10 protesters as some of them scaled walls to enter a palace parking lot.

It was not known whether the Islamic State or the Taliban were behind the kidnappings on Saturday. Both organizations have targeted Hazaras in the past.

“Security forces are investigating the case and will find out who kidnapped them,” Assadullah Kakar, a member of Zabul’s provincial council, said on Saturday.

A driver of one of the buses that were stopped, who gave his name as Shawali, said that six or seven militants climbed aboard and began pulling Hazara passengers out of their seats.

“They were very angry and treating passengers like animals,” he said. “They were telling passengers not to talk as they eagerly looked for Hazara people.”

Just last month, the top American general in Afghanistan, John F. Campbell, testified to a House committee about the state of security in Afghanistan and claimed that Afghans “continue to have, as I said, freedom of movement on Highway 1.”

But for Hazaras, bus trips down that highway are a source of dread. This year alone, as many as 31 Hazaras were abducted in a single episode, said Hassan Raza Yusufi, a Hazara member of the provincial council in Ghazni, which sits along Highway 1. Mr. Yusufi said there had been at least five other kidnappings of Hazaras along the portion of Highway 1 between Kabul and Kandahar this year.

“We blame the government for not taking enough security measures on the highways to protect its people,” Mr. Yusufi said.

The government’s poor record of securing the release of kidnapped Hazaras is another sign of its limited — and receding — authority in parts of the country. This month, the fate of the seven beheaded Hazara victims was discovered not by government forces but by the Taliban fighters who were advancing into a part of Zabul Province held by militants loyal to the Islamic State. Taliban fighters arranged for a truck driver to take the bodies to a government hospital.

Hazaras, historically Afghanistan’s most persecuted ethnic group, account for perhaps 5 to 10 percent of the country’s population, although statistics on demographics here are often based on estimates or guesswork. Hazaras are mostly Shiite in an overwhelmingly Sunni country, and Afghans of other ethnicities have long pilloried them as outsiders, possibly descendants of the Mongol invaders who once swept through the region. They faced persecution and campaigns of murder during years of Taliban rule.

This latest wave of violence against them comes after a decade of upward mobility. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Hazaras have become well represented in the country’s universities and have obtained a degree of political power that has historically eluded them.

But the rise in kidnappings may be leading many Hazaras to question their future in Afghanistan. As Afghans have joined the migrant trail to Europe, Hazaras are said to be leaving at a disproportionate rate, although statistical evidence is nonexistent.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/world/asia/kidnappings-escalate-in-afghanistan.html?_r=1

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Militants behead kidnapped civilians in Ghazni

April 18, 2015 

GHAZNI CITY (Pajhwok): Militants with links to little known Daish group on Friday beheaded the four civilians who were kidnapped by gunmen the other day from Ghazni City, the provincial capital of southern Ghazni province, officials said.

On Thursday, unidentified gunmen kidnapped four civilians from the Arjistan district. The abducted individuals were the residents of Malistan district who were on their way to their hometown.

Zamin Ali Hidayat, the town’s administrative chief, had said security forces had arrested Taliban Commander Mullah Abdullah along with his six of his associates during a clearing operation in Jaghori district. But in retaliation, the rebels kidnapped the civilians and were demanding prisoners swap.

Zamin Ali, the Malistan district chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News that insurgents beheaded the kidnapped men. He said militants wanted prisoners swap for the release of detained rebels.

He said that tribal elders were sent to the area to collect dead bodies of the slain persons. Ali Mohammad, a resident of the district, confirmed the abducted persons were killed today.

Source: http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2015/04/17/militants-behead-kidnapped-civilians-ghazni?hootPostID=3c03ba00a362e94ac8f275d0619652d8#sthash.5Ex2d161.dpuf

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Another 6 Hazara Passengers Abducted from Herat-Farah Highway

March 17, 2015 | Tolo News

In a fresh and the third incident, at least six more passengers from Hazara ethnic minority have been abducted by armed masked men on the Herat-Farah highway, west Afghanistan on Monday night, officials told TOLOnews.

As the fate of 31 abducted passengers is still unknown, the commander of second unit of 207th Zafar Military Corps, Sayed Hassanullah said Tuesday that the new incident happened in Kanisk area of Farah province.

“A search operation has been started to rescue the abducted people,” he said.

However, unconfirmed reports suggest that four of the abductees were the Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers.

This has been the third incident within 24 days after the unknown armed men kidnapped 31 Hazaras on Kabul-Kandahar highway in Shah Joy district of Zabul followed by abduction of another 10 Hazaras in Ghazni. However, nine of Ghazni abductees were released three hours after the incident but the fate of rest of them is still unknown.

‎Despite the negotiations between the elders of Zabul and alleged abductors, the 31 abductees are yet to be freed, something many blame on newly-emerged Daesh group.

The Zabul abductees are said to be transferred to Khak Afghan district of Zabul where the security forces have killed more than 50 insurgents so far in the operation to rescue the hostages.

Source: http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18651-another-6-hazara-passengers-abducted-from-herat-farah-highway

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Scott Morrison’s denial of visa to refugee from Pakistan unlawful, high court finds

February 12, 2015 | the guardian

The high court said the man, a Hazara, faced ‘a real chance of being seriously harmed or killed by extremist groups if he was returned to Pakistan’.

The high court said the man, a Hazara, faced ‘a real chance of being seriously harmed or killed by extremist groups if he was returned to Pakistan’. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

High court justices unanimously rule that basis of refusal – that he arrived by boat – was not legally valid and he must be granted a permanent protection visa.

The high court has ordered the immigration minister to grant a Pakistani refugee a permanent protection visa after three years in immigration detention and sustained government efforts to refuse him.

The government has promised the man a permanent visa within a week.

The high court unanimously ruled that former immigration minister Scott Morrison’s decision to refuse the man a visa was unlawful.

The minister denied the visa simply because the man arrived by boat. The immigration department had found he had a genuine fear of persecution and Australia was legally obliged to protect him.

The Pakistani man arrived on Christmas Island by boat in May 2012. A member of the Hazara ethnic minority and a Shia Muslim, the man faced, the high court said, “a real chance of being seriously harmed or killed by extremist groups if he was returned to Pakistan”.

The man was initially permitted to apply for a visa by Labor immigration minister, Chris Bowen. His application was rejected. However, on appeal to the Refugee Review Tribunal, he was found to be a refugee requiring protection.

But the man was then denied a visa because the minister, by then the Coalition’s Morrison, unilaterally capped the number of visas to be issued.

The high court ruled that action invalid.

The minister then denied him a visa on grounds it would not serve the “national interest” to grant him protection, because he arrived by boat. The court ruled that while the government’s policy was that no unauthorised maritime arrival should be granted a visa to stay in Australia, the law required the minister to grant the visa within 90 days.

The minister’s efforts to “prolong the plaintiff’s detention” by simply refusing to grant the visa were unlawful too.

“The court found … the minister could not refuse an application for a visa only because the applicant was an unauthorised maritime arrival.”

Chief Justice Robert French “made an order commanding the minister to grant the plaintiff a permanent protection visa”.

Guardian Australia reported in October that then immigration minister Morrison was warned by his own department that his attempts to refuse permanent protection visas were illegal and would be defeated in the high court.

Documents before the high court show Morrison was told on 15 January, in a brief from his department, that his policy objective of never granting permanent protection to boat arrivals could not be achieved “in the medium to long term” but that he could “delay being forced to grant” visas in the short term.

The departmental brief is confidential, but sections of it are reproduced in submissions before the high court.

The brief gave Morrison five strategies “to delay being forced to grant a permanent protection visa in the absence of a new temporary visa”, but conceded “each of these strategies is likely to be short lived as a consequence of decisions taken in parliament to overturn them or in the courts to invalidate them”.

Morrison ignored that advice and refused the Pakistani man a visa.

The current immigration minister, Peter Dutton, acknowledged the high court’s judgment and said a permanent protection visa would be issued within seven days.

“The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is looking into the implications of the decision, but they appear to be limited,” a spokesman said.

“This decision doesn’t affect the government’s policy that illegal maritime arrivals will not be granted permanent protection visas.”

The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the government’s actions showed its “arrogance” in dealing with asylum seekers and refugees.

“The immigration minister is not above the law, despite his consistent efforts to undermine the parliament and the high court,” she said.

“This man is a refugee, he came to Australia asking for help and it’s only after being dragged through the courts that the government will recognise its duty and offer him protection.

“There was no need for this. It was only the government’s own hubris that brought them to this loss.”

The executive director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, David Manne, welcomed the decision, saying the high court had ruled unanimously that the government had acted unlawfully in denying a person found to be a refugee protection, simply because he had arrived by boat.

“We are carefully studying the potential implications of the ruling for other refugees who arrived by boat, but who were refused a permanent protection visa because of their method of arrival.”

A spokesman for the Human Rights Law Centre, Daniel Webb, said the high court ruling was significant in setting limits to ministerial power.

“Being a boat arrival already triggers a range of severe legal consequences under the Migration Act. The high court has said it was not for the immigration minister to unilaterally attach more under the guise of ‘the national interest’,” Webb said.

The government has been ordered to pay costs.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/11/scott-morrisons-denial-of-visa-to-refugee-from-pakistan-unlawful-high-court-finds

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Hazara artist Khadim Ali joins the board of the Art Gallery of NSW

January 01, 2015 | Daily Telegraph

Sydney artist Khadim Ali has just been announced as a trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW. Picture: Google Images

A Hazara artist from Doonside who grew up in the shadow of Taliban persecution will join some of Sydney’s wealthiest movers and shakers on the board of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Khadim Ali, 36, joins high profile AGNSW board members including businessman James Packer’s sister Gretel Packer, art collector Geoff Ainsworth, author and socialite Ashley Dawson-Damer, publisher Eleonora Triguboff and joint managing director of Transfield Holdings, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis who is chairman of the board.

Ali hopes his appointment, announced by NSW Arts Minister Troy Grant, will encourage other young Australian Hazaras to come to art galleries and to pursue art as a career.

“I’ll try my best to make them connected, to find a way to bring them into the galleries and museums, and to give them a way to become well educated Australian citizens of the future,” Ali said.

There were 5000 or 6000 Hazara families living around Auburn, Merrylands, Granville, Guildford and Parramatta, Ali said. Hazaras, as an ethnic and religious minority, have a long history of persecution in Afghanistan.

Some of Ali’s artwork was displayed at the Art Gallery of NSW earlier this year alongside the blockbuster exhibition Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures From The National Museum, Kabul.

He is now completing an art commission for the Australian War Memorial at his studio in Woolloomooloo.

“The War Memorial (commission) is on the demonisation and dehumanisation of the ethnic minorities. There are a number of them in Afghanistan and that includes the international troops,” Ali said.

Australian troops were seen as “saviours” by Hazaras in Afghanistan, but the Taliban regarded the Australians as infidels.

Ali’s three-year term as AGNSW board member begins today.

Khadim Ali was raised in exile in Quetta, Pakistan. His grandparents escaped a massacre of Hazaras in Afghanistan in the 1890s, and his parents remained in Pakistan hoping peace would eventually settle on Afghanistan.

Due to Taliban violence against Hazaras, the family never returned.

Ali migrated to Australia in 2009 on a Distinguished Talent Visa.

After Ali’s parents were injured in a suicide bombing in Quetta in 2011, they came to live with him.

“Mr Ali is a contemporary artist whose experience will enhance the Gallery’s programming for the diverse communities of Western Sydney,” NSW Arts Minister Troy Grant said.

Source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/arts/hazara-artist-khadim-ali-joins-the-board-of-the-art-gallery-of-nsw/story-fniv7r7y-1227171879619?nk=fd061cc65495ad2b16b1dd8b34599f50

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Asylum seekers ‘staying indoors’ after signing Federal Government’s code of behaviour

November 29, 2014 | ABC News

Refugee confusion

A Hazara refugee, using the alias Karim, says of the code: “It is very hard, it is stressful – you’re staying home all day with no certain future.”

Asylum seekers living in Australia are staying indoors for fear of breaching the Federal Government’s new “code of behaviour”, which they say is vague and confusing.

The operators of a refugee legal service in Sydney’s west said they expected a spike in queries related to the code, which was introduced by the Federal Government last year and must be signed by all asylum seekers on bridging visas.

Part of the code requires asylum seekers not to “engage in any anti-social or disruptive activities that are inconsiderate, disrespectful or threaten the peaceful enjoyment of other members of the community”.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the code was a way of protecting the Australian community and its values.

In a statement, Mr Morrison said the code was introduced to:

  • provide a strong and enforceable reminder of the behaviour that is expected of people living in the community on a bridging E visa (BVE);
  • provide the opportunity for early warning, educative and preventative measures to be taken before more serious behavioural problems can arise; and
  • encourage cooperation with the immigration department to resolve immigration status.

“It is government policy and will remain a condition of being granted a bridging visa,” he said.

However, asylum seekers such as “Karim”, a Hazara Afghan using an alias so as not to be identified, said he and his friends stayed at home most days out of fear of breaching the code.

The asylum seeker said he came to Australia by boat in 2012 after the Taliban killed his father and brother.

“I lost my family and I was targeted by the Taliban group who wanted to kill me,” he said.

It is very complicated, it is not very specific and you don’t know what is in it and what is not.

Hazara asylum seeker Karim

“I had no choice to come legally because there were no visas for Afghans.”

He said he had experienced increased stress levels since he signed the code.

“It is very hard, it is stressful – you’re staying home all day with no certain future,” he said.

“I’ve been here two years and I’m physically safe, but I’m not mentally safe.

“I have the fear with me all the time I don’t know what will happen.”

Mr Karim said he feared he could inadvertently breach the code, because it was so vague, and consequently be detained.

“It is very complicated, it is not very specific and you don’t know what is in it and what is not,” he said.

He said he was terrified of catching a train with the wrong ticket or driving a car in case he had an accident, which could be seen as a breach of the code.

“If you do something by mistake, you’ll probably breach the code, and you’re not sure that if you breach the code you’ll be back detained,” he said.

Lawyer says code confuses asylum seekers

The code covers six clauses, mostly relating to Australian law, but it was the section on public behaviour that had asylum seekers worried, lawyer Narjis Rajab said.

Ms Rajab from the Refugee Advice Casework Service (RACS) said the section was vague and left asylum seekers confused.

“As a lawyer, when I explain the code of behaviour it’s scary for me because I know little about it,” she said.

“It is very confusing and very daunting.”

She said many clients she had advised did not know what the code was and were afraid of the consequences of breaching it.

“When I explain to them what they have signed and how careful they should be with the way they act, they way they behave in Australian community, it’s very hard,” she said.

“It’s very scary. Sometimes it even makes a client cry and say ‘I don’t know what I have signed’.”

A free refugee legal clinic set up to service the increasing demand in Sydney’s west has seen about 100 clients in its first month, according to lawyers.

RACS, along with Auburn City Council, opened the weekly clinic in October.

Executive director Tanya Jackson-Vaughan said the service was running information sessions about the code, which she described as “unnecessary and unfair”.

“There was already a condition on the bridging visas that you had to follow Australian law,” Ms Jackson-Vaughan said.

“The code of behaviour is a bit wider. It talks about bullying and harassing, which is quite broad.

“I think asylum seekers living in the community should be treated like people who’ve got visas, and we’re all expected to adhere to the law.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-29/refugee-code-of-conduct-stressful-asylum-seekers-say/5923700

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Federal Government loses High Court appeal over refugee status of Afghan truck driver

November 12, 2014 | ABC News

The Federal Government has lost a High Court appeal over the refugee status of an Afghan truck driver who claimed he could not return to his country for fear of persecution.

The Hazara man, who was denied a protection visa by the Immigration Department, had worked for foreign agencies in Kabul transporting construction materials to and from the city.

He fled Kabul in 2011, when another truck driver showed him a letter from the Taliban which named him and urged others to do their “Islamic duty” and get rid of him.

The Department’s decision to deny him a protection visa was affirmed by the Refugee Review Tribunal, which ruled the man could avoid persecution by changing jobs.

However, the High Court found the tribunal had failed to consider whether it was reasonable to expect the man to remain in Kabul, and not drive trucks away from the city.

It meant the tribunal could not make a proper determination on whether he had a well-founded fear of persecution, the Court ruled.

The man’s case will be heard again by the tribunal, in light of the High Court ruling.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-12/immigration-department-loses-appeal-over-afghans-refugee-status/5885148

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