Tag Archives: hazara asylum seekers

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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Activists attempt to prevent Hazara man deportation at Perth airport

October 30, 2014 | ABC News

Refugee activist Sally Thompson

Refugee activist Sally Thompson

Activists have been campaigning at Perth International Airport to try to prevent a man from the minority Hazara community in Afghanistan being deported.

The Refugee Rights Action Network said the 20-year-old man, who has been held at a detention centre in Northam for two years, has been moved to a facility near the airport.

The network said the refugee tribunal found the man to be in genuine danger of persecution if he returned to Afghanistan, but had still been ordered to leave Australia.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection would not confirm if the man was being deported but released a statement .

It said: “People who have exhausted all outstanding avenues to remain in Australia and have no lawful basis to remain are expected to depart”.

Activist Sally Thompson said the tribunal found the man would be in danger if he returned to his home district but not if he was sent to Kabul.

“The last Hazara who was sent back was tortured in September,” she said.

“He was sent back by the Australian Government in August.

“He’s from the same area in Afghanistan and within a month of his arrival back there he was captured by the Taliban and tortured.”

Activists and about 40 members of Perth’s Hazara community confronted passengers at the airport and handed out about 600 leaflets in an attempt to prevent the man being deported.

Ms Thompson said they hoped to raise awareness of his plight.

“A hopefulness that someone on the plane may actually take action in a passive way by keeping their seatbelt undone and explaining why or standing up on the plane and saying why,” she said.

“Under law that means the plane can’t take off.”

The statement from the immigration Minister said: “People who do not hold a valid visa and are unwilling to voluntarily depart may be subject to detention and removal from Australia.

“Australia does not return people to their country of origin where this would contravene our obligations under international human rights instruments that Australia is party to, including the Refugee Convention.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-29/activists-attempt-to-prevent-man-being-deported/5849432

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UK to deport Pakistani activist despite Taliban death threats

October 16, 2014

Liaquat Ali Hazara, whose deportation is set for 21 October, campaigned for Shia minority group against sectarian violence.

Liaquat Ali Hazara
Liaquat Ali Hazara is a campaigner for a Shia minority group that shares his name – the Hazaras. Photograph: Facebook

Britain plans to deport a prominent Pakistani activist within a week, even though he has received multiple death threats from the country’s most brutal sectarian group, and from Taliban militants who know his home address and have been stalking him online.

Liaquat Ali Hazara is a campaigner for a Shia minority group that shares his name, the Hazaras. More than 500 Hazaras have been killed in his home province of Balochistan since 2008, according to a Human Rights Watch report published this year, entitled We Are the Walking Dead.

It details bombings and shootings, including an assault on a bus full of pilgrims, when gunmen came back to kill wounded survivors as they were taken to hospital. “There is no travel route, no shopping trip, no school run, no work commute that is safe,” the report said.

The UK government has scheduled Hazara’s deportation for 21 October on the grounds that he would be safe in other parts of the country, he told the Guardian. But they still plan to fly him to Quetta, the Balochistan capital and his hometown, where threatening letters have been hand-delivered to the house where his wife and parents live. He worries he may not even make to his front door.

“The threatening letters that were sent to my home say very clearly if I don’t stop talking against the extremist groups or if I come back to Pakistan they will behead me,” Hazara said in a phone interview from the detention centre where he is being held.

“I fear they can just “disappear” me from the airport, because they have good contacts with the security people as well, who have been infiltrated by the religious extremists.”

Even if he does survive the journey, it is not clear where he might go if he left his job. There have been sectarian killings across Pakistan, and some of the emailed death threats have been traced to Karachi, a port city several hundred miles away from Quetta, and Hyderabad, another distant town.

“We will deal with you the same way as we do with your people in Quetta, who are sent to hell,” someone using the name Abdul Haq Jhangvi wrote to him in 2011. “We have decided to catch you alive, then, we will send your head [to] your people. We will teach you a good lesson so that no other person dares to write against the Taliban mujahideen. We will see you very soon.”

Shia Hazara mourn suidice bomb victims in Quetta
Hazara relatives attend the funeral ceremony of victims who were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Quetta this month. Photograph: Jamal Tarakai/EPA

Hazara, 36, was studying for an accountancy diploma in London when his concerns about rising sectarian violence pushed him to begin campaigning in 2009.

Outside the region, the scale of the killings is not well known and there is little pressure on Islamabad for change, while the Pakistani government has seemed largely indifferent to the steadily rising toll.

After the attack on the bus of pilgrims in 2011, the provincial chief minister, Aslam Raisani, said: “Of the millions who live in Balochistan, 40 dead [in this attack] is not a big deal. I will send a truckload of tissue papers to the bereaved families.”

Determined to try to change those attitudes, Hazara founded the Hazara United Movement, a political campaign group, organising protests and sit-ins, writing op-eds and running a campaigning blog. Among other achievements, it helped lay the ground for a House of Commons debatethis year on the situation in Balochistan.

His work did not go unnoticed at home, however. The first threats from the Taliban and Lashkar-e Jhangvi, one of Pakistan’s most vicious Sunni militant groups arrived in 2010 and 2011. After a string of emailed warnings in English, and handwritten threats in Pashtu and Urdu, Hazara claimed asylum in September 2012, based on his high-profile political activities.

His first barrister failed to present the immigration tribunal with information he had prepared detailing how the threat to his life extended beyond Quetta, Hazara said. Two subsequent reports from a legal expert were rejected by the Home Office as insufficient grounds for asylum, he says, and he was refused a request for a judicial review of the case.

“My life is genuinely in danger, and the Home Office is not listening,” said Hazara, who has been in detention since July with deportion set for next week. “I would like to request Human Rights Groups to campaign for me and exert more meaningful pressure.”

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/14/uk-deport-pakistani-activist-liaquat-ali-hazara

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Learning centre helps asylum seekers cope

October 03, 2014 | the age

Twenty adolescent boys and girls cram in one room of a house in West Java, singing and gesturing in delightfully accented English a song made famous by a giant purple dinosaur.

“With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too?” they sing and point, embracing Barney the Dinosaur’s signature tune with the same enthusiasm of the generation of children before them.

This is the English class at the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre and the mainly ethnic Hazara children attending could not be happier to be here.

A child at the asylum seekers' new "learning centre".A child at the asylum seekers’ new “learning centre”. Photo: Michael Bachelard

In what would be the lounge if this was a family home, the littlies are having their faces painted with English words such as “Excellent”, while others play word games with their young teacher and recite, with enthusiasm, Ring a-ring a-rosie.

In a third tiny room, the older teenagers take a rather more serious approach to their lesson, even though it’s standing room only.

Just two months ago, these children were bored and aimless, dislocated from their home countries and stuck in temporary accommodation as their school years ebbed.

Children at an asylum seeker learning centre in Cisarua, Indonesia.Children at an asylum seeker learning centre in Cisarua, Indonesia. Photo: Michael Bachelard

A year before that they might have been preparing with their parents to attempt the perilous boat voyage from Indonesia to Australia, fleeing the sometimes deadly dangers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

But Operation Sovereign Borders has stopped that traffic in boats,and now hundreds of children are among the 10,000 people marooned indefinitely in Indonesia while their asylum claims wend their way through the United Nations process towards an uncertain end.

Foreign children cannot attend Indonesian schools but, rather than give in to hopelessness and frustration, a group of four Hazara men pushed to open this learning centre in early August.

A class at the learning centre in Cisarua.A class at the learning centre in Cisarua. Photo: Michael Bachelard

One of them, Khadim Dai, is only 18 and wise beyond his years.

“Before, Indonesia was just a transit for asylum seekers. Now we must live here for three or four or five years, so we must educate our children. It’s as simple as that,” Khadim says.

The community expressed its interest a while ago but renting the house led to an explosion in applications. Fifty-five students and seven teachers now come to what the founders are careful to avoid calling a school (because it is not certified by the Indonesian government). They range in age from about five to 17 and attend for three hours a day, four days a week, to learn English, maths and “general knowledge”, or basic science.

Welcome distraction: Children learning English at the centre. Welcome distraction: Children learning English at the centre. Photo: Michael Bachelard

Classes in English for adult women are also held twice a week, so that, if they’re lucky enough to win one of the few thousand refugee places in Australia or New Zealand, they’ll be prepared.

An Australian donor has paid the rent to start with and donors have supplied piles of textbooks in English. The asylum seeker community kicked in to buy some basic equipment – a whiteboard and some markers. Even so, space is tight and the students sit on the floor or stand – partly because they have no chairs. Another 20 children are on the waiting list because they simply cannot fit into the building.

Despite its shortcomings, teachers and students here are both clear on the value of this project.

The learning centre aims to keep children occupied and prepare them for a possible life in an English-speaking country. The learning centre aims to keep children occupied and prepare them for a possible life in an English-speaking country. Photo: Michael Bachelard

“Sitting at home wasting your time is not good and you will be depressed,” says 17-year-old Maliha Ali in almost flawless English, “so that is why I am coming here – to utilise my time and utilise the students’ time and teach them something that I know”.

Maliha was still a student herself in Pakistan when her family fled a Taliban death threat to her father, Liaquat Ali Changezi. She didn’t have a chance to graduate but now she is the “teacher” of the middle level class.

Her little brother, Fazil Aqil, 12, agrees that, “when we were free [to do nothing], the bad thoughts come in our mind”.

All smiles: A young boy at the learning centre.All smiles: A young boy at the learning centre. Photo: Michael Bachelard

“Now it is good that we have a school and three hours we are busy with our school.”

Both children would say that – they are the offspring of Changezi, the learning centre’s co-founder and “principal”, who was a well known local Hazara TV actor in Quetta, Pakistan, before he says he was forced to flee. Ask Changezi about the learning centre and he does not celebrate his achievement so much as worry about its inadequacy.

Some students have much more English than others and it’s hard for the teachers to manage, he says.

“We need a bigger space … we have classes one, two and three,but the students belong in different age groups and different classes … it’s very hard for the teachers.”

Changezi also wants to find chairs, a computer and printer, and some training for the volunteer teachers.

“I want to start a full service but we can’t do it right now.”

Khadim says a collateral benefit of the learning centre has been improved communications with the local Indonesian community. Relations between the thousands of asylum seekers who live in the hilltop town of Cisarua and the locals have not always been happy and stories of threatened violence and distrust are easy to find. But the Indonesian community leader for this area, known as the “RT,” cut the ribbon to open the learning centre, and Indonesian children who want to learn English (and don’t mind their new friends speaking Hazaragi in the playground) have been invited to attend.

“We are a guest here, so we want to know about Indonesian culture and respect them,” Khadim says.

It’s a small start towards some high-minded aims. But the children in this school know that anything’s better than sitting around doing nothing.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/world/learning-centre-helps-asylum-seekers-cope-20141003-10ppkx.html

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