Tag Archives: hazara refugees

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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Desperate journeys: Persecuted Hazara flee Afghanistan

November 01, 2015 | Aljazeera

Facing discrimination and a lack of opportunity, ethnic Hazara are among those landing on the Greek island of Lesbos.

At least 16 people drowned and dozens went missing last week after overcrowded boats sank [Kevin Kusmez/Al Jazeera]

Lesbos, Greece – The smuggler camp where Milad was waiting is ideally situated as a launching point to the Greek island of Lesbos. The island spreads out invitingly on the horizon with nothing between the camp and the Greek shore but 10km of open sea – seemingly within arm’s reach on a clear day.

Smugglers loaded inflatable black dinghies, three per hour, with refugees far beyond any recommended capacity and sped across the straits under the cover of darkness. This year alone, more than 450,000 refugees have landed in Greece in this manner, with thousands arriving on Lesbos each day.

The journey is often deadly. Last Wednesday at least 16 people drowned and dozens went missing after their overcrowded vessels sank. More than 100 people have died this year attempting the Turkey-to-Greece sea voyage.

On this particular day, there were only a few people preparing to make the final lunge to Europe. An hour before, the Turkish gendarmerie and coastguard coordinated a raid on the camp, detaining those who didn’t run in time.

What few boats remained had been slashed by the Turkish authorities to prevent anyone from making an attempt. Life jackets were piled up under trees by the dozens; they too had been slashed during the raid.

“When they came, we ran and hid. The border police boat came from over there,” Milad said, motioning to the narrow stretch of open beach.

Life vests damaged during a coastguard raid lie discarded under a tree at the refugee launching point on the Turkish coast [Kevin Kusmez/Al Jazeera]

The people who had managed to avoid detention – the Palestinian, Syrian, and Afghan refugees – were all scared, exhausted, and uncertain about what to do next. But despite the risk, the refugees eventually returned “to find something to eat”.

Despite his warm demeanour and eagerness to practise his nearly impeccable English, Milad, a 19-year-old Hazara refugee from Afghanistan, was hesitant to reveal any information about himself – who he is, where he came from.

Standing in a hillside olive grove-turned-smuggler camp in Turkey’s northwest in the cool stillness of the late afternoon, Milad finally opened up about his experiences that had made him so reluctant to even reveal his name.

His story is complex. The Hazara are a Persian-speaking Shia ethnic group who live predominantly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

They are a widely persecuted community because of their religion and ethnic differences. Even among other Shia groups their Asian features are often used as a pretext to deny them rights as “Mongol” invaders.

They face violence not only from the Taliban and the Islamic State  of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but also institutional hostility from other ethnic groups and decades of discriminatory practises  in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Until the 1970s, Afghan law barred Hazara  from holding office, entering university, or holding any position of national authority. Laws were little better under the Taliban.

Under former Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration – and by extension the new Ashraf Ghani-led government – the Hazara found an ally who promulgated an end to sectarian and ethnic discrimination.

In the 2010 elections, they achieved disproportionately large gains – in Afghanistan’s lower house, they earned 20 percent of seats  despite being an estimated nine percent of the population, and saw their ethnicity well-represented in Karzai’s administrative appointments.

With an unparalleled voting rate of about 85  percent and an emphasis on the importance of education, the Hazara have become a political force in Afghanistan punching well above their weight.

But those successes have been seen as coming at the expense of other groups – notably the more numerous and powerful ethnic Pashtun and Tajik – and have had a part in inviting a renewed cycle of violence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The community began to fear that whatever legal protections the Hazara enjoyed are collapsing with the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. 

This has led hundreds of thousands of Hazara to make the treacherous journey from their homeland to seek refuge in Europe.

Young Hazara refugees often travel to Europe alone to escape persecution and help support families left behind [Kevin Kusmez/Al Jazeera]

Educated, smart, and driven, Milad typifies the Hazara along the smuggler routes in Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans.

Many are fleeing the crushing poverty that accompanies the extreme persecution they face at home. But, almost universally, the Hazara making the journey to Europe are all young, single men seeking an education.

An ethnic quota on the government, army, and school systems that was meant to more evenly distribute appointments in universities and government has instead made the Hazara victims of their own success.

Despite doing well academically, Milad said no school would take him past grade 11. “The places are for Pashtuns and Tajiks only,” he said.

For many Hazara, leaving Afghanistan is a family decision. The poverty endemic to the Hazara means there is usually only enough money available in a family to send one family member – the one most likely to succeed in the journey to Europe – usually the eldest son.

At the port of Lesbos, Mohammed Reza reflected on the difficulties he had overcome to successfully arrive on European soil. “All of my family agreed I should come here,” said the 18-year-old.

His family, living as refugees in Iran, face continuous discrimination both from the government and other refugees and decided to send him to Europe for everyone’s eventual benefit.

Immaculately dressed in a smart button-down and Ray-Bans, 18-year-old Reza, recounted his ordeal that is typical for refugees who arrive on Lesbos.

Muhamad Reza said his family urged him to migrate to Europe [Kevin Kusmez/Al Jazeera]

“From Tehran to the Iran-Turkey border, we came with a pick-up truck. The capacity of this car is 10 – and it is for sheep or animals, but we were 25 or 26 people,” Reza recalled. The group then climbed for 20 hours over a mountain to arrive in Turkey where smugglers arranged for the boat.

“The capacity of that boat was 25 to 30 people. We were 49 in that boat… Our ship filled with water. We lost our engine [when] the water and fuel mixed together,” Reza explained.

The Turkish police saw their stranded boat but did not rescue them as they were already in Greek waters.

“We waved flags, shined lights, made noise, but they didn’t care,” said Reza. The people eventually decided to row with their hands and, luckily, were able to reach land after several hours.

Ali, another young Hazara who arrived on Lesbos, explained why he had taken the dangerous journey to Europe.

“My family doesn’t know that I’m here… I told them that I was going to another province for one month. They don’t know that I’m in Europe now. When I get to my final country, I’ll call them and tell them,” Ali said.

Ali said he wanted to leave because of the entrenched hatred towards his people. “It’s all politics. They can’t accept our humanity. They think that the Hazara aren’t Muslim. This isn’t true. When a person achieves his or her goal, they try to slander them by calling them Hazara.”

In a country where their very name is a slur, few Hazara see a future for themselves or their children in Afghanistan.

And, despite having crossed the threshold into the European Union, few of the Hazara expressed elation, but simply relief – and even then, it is often quickly put into check with the acknowledgement that their journey is not yet over.

Ali and his companions feel lucky to have arrived in Lesbos [Kevin Kusmez/Al Jazeera]

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The Next Refugee Crisis: Afghanistan

October 21, 2015 | The New York Times

WASHINGTON — With the war in Afghanistan heating up, thousands of Afghan refugees are fleeing their country. But Iran and Pakistan, which house most of the Afghan refugees from previous cycles of violence, are increasingly unwelcoming. So the new exodus has begun to flow toward Europe, already inundated with Syria’s refugees.

Yet these Afghans have attracted little attention from Western policy makers; they do not seem to recognize the Afghans’ desperation, and the challenges their flight poses for Afghanistan, its neighbors and Europe. For Afghans, it is a recurring nightmare. Like previous exoduses going back to the 1970s, this one is stripping the country of precisely the professionals who are vital to its future as a modern state.

President Obama has an opportunity to change that on Thursday by putting the issue high on his agenda, and calling international attention to it, when he hosts Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in Washington.

The new surge of refugees began with the Taliban’s offensive this year, and intensified after fighting reached populated areas like Kunduz. Last month, employees at Afghanistan’s passport agency said they were issuing an average of 2,000 passports daily — triple the number of six months ago.

In recent decades, most Afghan refugees have wound up in Pakistan, which now hosts nearly three million. But refugees there complain that this year, officials have been forcing them to return home. The International Organization for Migration says 90,000 Pakistan-based Afghans did just that since January. Now the government refuses to extend identity cards for 1.5 million refugees, many of whom have been in Pakistan for decades, when their permits expire at year’s end.

Iran, too, has been deporting refugees. One reason is fear that Afghans with ties to the drug trade will compound Iran’s own drug-use problems.

Deportation can be a harsh sentence. Some returnees end up in United Nations camps near Jalalabad, a stronghold for former Taliban militants who joined the Islamic State. The danger may be worst for ethnic Hazaras; they are Shiite Muslims, and many fled slaughter by the Taliban.

Afghans cannot expect much help from their own government. One official American report says the State Department stopped funding a training program for Afghanistan’s refugee and repatriation ministry last year after finding the ministry corrupt and dysfunctional.

Helping Afghan refugees is not an easy issue for Pakistani officials, who already deal with a million internally displaced Pakistanis fleeing conflict in their own border areas.

So the Afghan exodus increasingly looks to Europe as its destination, after a perilous trek across Iran, Turkey and the Mediterranean.

According to United Nations and European estimates, more than 20 percent of the roughly 500,000 people who have arrived this year via the Mediterranean have been Afghans.

The flow poses a serious challenge for Europe, which is already experiencing its greatest refugee crisis since World War II and needs no further scapegoats for its anti-immigration demagogues to attack.

So the world must acknowledge the plain fact that Afghanistan’s refugees need help. Their own government, beleaguered by war and its own dysfunction, is not up for the task, and its two largest neighbors are increasingly indifferent to their plight.

It is unrealistic to expect Pakistan to voluntarily accept more Afghan refugees. Still, it should better help those already there. Mr. Obama should press Mr. Sharif to extend the identity cards about to expire. He should urge a more gradual and humane repatriation process. And he should assure Mr. Sharif that Americans remain committed to financial support for international aid programs that assist Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran — programs now under budgetary pressure.

Iran, which houses the second-largest Afghan refugee population, has extended the visas of 450,000 Afghans. Yet Afghans there also report forced deportations and other bad treatment. According to one recent report, Iranian border policemen shot and killed seven Afghans trying to enter the country. These policies must end.

As for the Western countries, the European nations whose troops took part in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan should ensure that Afghans are included in any European Union quotas that distribute refugees among member states. And Washington should expedite special visas for those Afghans who worked for the United States government or military and say that their lives are endangered. In September, at least 13,000 Afghans and Iraqis with that status were still waiting.

And, if security can be assured, international aid groups should accelerate the creation of safe zones within pacified areas in the country, where the United Nations says the total internally displaced population numbers nearly a million. These people need incentives to stay in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, some of Afghanistan’s other neighbors should band together to help. Bordering countries in Central Asia, along with Russia, China and Iran, all need more stability in Afghanistan and fear the specter of heavy refugee flows into their countries; they should pool funds to support the formation of permanent safe areas inside Afghanistan, in places like Bamian Province that still enjoy relative stability.

Given the lack of quick fixes for Afghanistan’s violence, corruption and economic distress, safe areas may be the best possible incentive for Afghans to remain in their country. It is only a stopgap, but one that might help keep a dangerous crisis in check.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/opinion/the-next-refugee-crisis-afghanistan.html?_r=0

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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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After suffering under the Taliban, an Afghan minority faces new threats

April 10, 2015 | washingtonpost

Esmail Kayhan, 20, an ethnic Hazara holds the portrait of his father, Mohammad Jomah Amini, at their family home in Kabul. (Sudarsan Raghavan/The Washington Post)

Inside the two seized buses, terrified passengers prayed to remain in their seats. The masked gunmen had collected their identification cards and snatched their cellphones, survivors would later recall. Next, they separated males from females and Sunni Muslims from Shiite Muslims. Finally, they ordered the Shiite males — all ethnic Hazaras — off the buses.

The kidnappers then vanished into the harsh terrain of southern Zabul province with 31 men and boys, sparking concerns of a potential fresh wave of sectarian tensions in Afghanistan.

Six weeks later, their families remain in an emotional limbo.

“We don’t know what our sin is,” said Namatullah Noori, 40, after recounting what his mother, one of the surviving passengers, had told him. “From one side, they are targeting us. And from the other side, the government is not helping us.”

His 65-year-old father is among the abducted men.

In recent weeks, concerns have mounted across the nation overthe emergence of the Islamic State, the Iraq- and Syria-based Sunni movement that has violently targeted Shiites and other religious and ethnic groups. Now the events that unfolded on the buses, corroborated by Afghan officials and victims’ relatives, are fanning those fears. In interviews, Afghan officials and Hazara leaders said they suspect that a rogue Taliban faction that has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State is behind the abductions in Zabul.

For the nation’s minority Hazaras, the kidnappings, along with other recent attacks, are grim reminders of the persecution they endured under the rule of the mainly ethnic Pashtun and Sunni Taliban, which viewed Shiites as apostates. Since the abductions in late February, there have been at least three more mass kidnappings of Hazaras in three other provinces, according to Afghan officials and Hazara.net, a nonprofit Web site focused on the community’s rights and culture.

“Historically, we have struggled a lot to be accepted as normal citizens,” said Hayatullah Meheryar, 30, a Hazara activist. “But now these assaults show they want to restrict our development that we’ve achieved in the past 13 years.”

Opportunity to attack

Throughout the 20th century, successive Pashtun-led regimes in Afghanistan targeted the Hazaras, the country’s third-largest ethnic group, making up about 20 percent of the population. Also a religious minority, they were massacred and tortured. Uprisings were viciously crushed. Their religious leaders were jailed; women were abducted. Most Hazaras languished in poverty and humiliation, forced to take menial jobs.

The Taliban carried out mass executions of Hazaras and drove them from their lands and meager livelihoods. Tens of thousands of Hazaras sought refuge in frigid mountain hideouts. In the Hazara ethnic homeland of Bamian province in early 2001, the Taliban methodically destroyed two giant Buddha statues that had survived for centuries, drawing an international outcry.

Since the Taliban regime collapsed in late 2001, however, the Hazaras have experienced a communal rebirth. Many returned from exile in Iran and other countries to forge a future here. A new generation entered universities and later found jobs with the United Nations and international firms and aid agencies. Economically, many flourished. Politically, theygained more clout.

Attacks against them had grown rare. In 2011, a suicide bomber in Kabul killed 56 Shiite worshipers, mostly Hazaras, on the holy day of Ashura in the bloodiest sectarian attack of the war. Last year, gunmen in central Ghowr province executed 15 Hazara civilians traveling in a minibus.

Now, a familiar anxiety is boiling up again within the community.

Most of the Hazaras in the two buses attacked in February were returning from Iran. Some had gone there for construction or other blue-collar jobs, and others to visit relatives.

Noori’s father and mother were inside with his 17-year-old son. They had taken him for medical treatment in Iran. When the teenager saw the gunmen, he fainted. That saved his life. The gunmen left him in the vehicle after Noori’s mother pleaded for mercy. But her pleas couldn’t save her husband.

“Who else but the Taliban can be behind this?” Noori said.

The Taliban’s central command has denied responsibility for the abductions. But the insurgency has become increasingly disjointed, with many Taliban factions acting on their own. Some have become so disgruntled that they have aligned themselves with the Islamic State to gain funds and prominence, according to U.S. military commanders who view the group as a potential threat but still at an embryonic stage in Afghanistan.

Survivors of the Zabul kidnappings told authorities that the gunmen spoke local languages and appeared to be ethnic Pashtuns from their accents. That’s a reason why officials say they think that the assailants were home­grown disciples of the Islamic State, also known as Daesh.

“These are Taliban who have changed their colors,” said Ali Akbar Qaseemi, an influential ethnic Hazara parliamentarian. “Daesh’s goal is to disintegrate the nation by creating problems among ethnic groups in Afghanistan.”

For many Hazaras, the fresh threats against them reflect the vanishing U.S. and international military presence. The abductions unfolded on major highways in areas once patrolled by foreign forces. With far fewer international troops, Afghanistan’s security forces­ are straining to fill the gap. Growing portions of the country are unpoliced.

“With the foreign troops gone, the Taliban see an opportunity to attack us again,” Meheryar said.

Since the abductions in Zabul, Afghan police and security forces­ have mounted unsuccessful operations to rescue the 31 men and boys. So far, there have been no public demands from the kidnappers.

Afghan government officials have declined to provide details of the incident or the efforts to free the victims, beyond vowing to use all means necessary to find them.

“The government is working hard on this matter,” said Ajmal Obaid Abidy, spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

‘We can’t do anything’

In the meantime, the families of the 31 men and boys have embarked on a frustrating daily quest to learn the fate of their loved ones. Some have traveled to Kabul from other cities — even from Pakistan. Each morning, they visit the offices­ of Hazara leaders and government officials. Each evening, they return home disappointed.

“No one is giving us any answers,” said Hussein Ali, 67, whose son is among the abducted. “We can’t do anything.”

“We are poor, working-class people,” Noori said. “We don’t know the influential people. We don’t have power.”

Esmail Kayhan’s family is struggling as much from the lack of knowledge as finances­. For the past year, his father had been working construction in Iran, sending money home every month. Now, he’s among the kidnapped. Kayhan’s older brother, who works in a bakery in Saudi Arabia, was forced to take a loan to help the family.

Kayhan said he is most worried about his mother, who has heart problems, and his grandmother, who is frail. He fears the shock of learning the truth could harm them. So he keeps telling them that his father is still in Iran, dealing with some last-minute business.

The other day, he said, his mother asked him: “Why does your father keep calling you? Why doesn’t he call me?”

He shrugged and said he didn’t know.

As each day passes, the Hazara community is growing angrier — and more organized. Small protests have been launched in Kabul and other parts of the country. There have also been demonstrations in Australia and Europe. On Twitter, activists have created the hashtag #Free31Hazaras, as well as a Web site: http://www.bringback31hazaras.com.au.

This week, they set up tents near the presidential palace in protest. Ali, who has been in the capital for five weeks, said he has no plans to return to his home in Quetta, Pakistan.

“I will remain in Kabul until I learn whether my son is alive or dead,” he said.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/after-suffering-under-the-taliban-an-afghan-minority-faces-new-threats/2015/04/08/035e1c4a-d71b-11e4-bf0b-f648b95a6488_story.html

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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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We will f*****g kill you: Beaten Nauru refugees fear for their lives

October 29, 2014 | SBS

Child refugees on Nauru say they fear for their lives after claiming to have been beaten and threatened with death in recent days.
Child refugees on Nauru have told SBS they fear for their lives after claiming to have been beaten and threatened with death in recent days.

A 16-year-old boy said he was attacked by a group of five Nauruan locals on motorbikes.

He said he was knocked unconscious and needed overnight hospitalisation, while others have also been attacked, suffering head, nose and eye injuries.

“One of them coming down and told me ‘do you have lighter for cigarettes?'” he said.

“I told him ‘no brother, I don’t have lighter, I don’t smoking’, and he say ‘why you don’t have lighter f*****g refugee?’

“And then he started to punch me and kick me, and then another guy coming down four or five of them, they come and punch me very hard… I didn’t do anything, I just fall down and all of them kick me and punch me.”

The 16-year-old said refugees are now living in fear for their lives.

“What if Nauruans come to put matches to my house?” he said.

“What I can do? I come here for safety, I come here for respect, I’m coming out of fear because no one can save me there (his home country) and now I am here (Nauru) no one can save me, so where I can go?”

The boy said there are 29 unaccompanied minors who have been placed in three houses in the community. He said they’ve received deaths threats from locals.

“Because the house in the jungle, we don’t have any address also, and then Nauruan people are … going there and telling them ‘don’t come outside – if you come outside we kill you. We will kill all of you’,” he said.

“And they warning me three times now, Nauruan people warning me three times, they tell me ‘we will f*****g kill you’.”

A 17-year-old boy who is on Nauru with family claimed refugee children have been threatened with violence while at school.

He said although some schools received visits from welfare organisation Save The Children, his school doesn’t and that parents are talking about withdrawing their children from education for their safety.

Although the children are now living in Nauru under that country’s laws, refugee advocate Dianne Hiles from ChilOut argued the Immigration Minister must bear responsibility for their welfare.

“I’m sure they’re going to say it’s nothing to do with them, they weren’t there,” she said.

“But obviously the buck should stop with them, because they’re the ones financing the whole situation and setting it up and it’s their harebrained idea that Nauru is able to handle an influx of people – it can hardly educate or look after the health of its own population and yet it’s expected to take care of Australia’s responsibilities.”

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has not responded to SBS’s request for information, however he has been reported elsewhere saying that “any attack on a person settled on Nauru was a matter for Nauru.”

Welfare agency Save The Children has been contracted to provide support services for the children, but are not their guardians or protectors.

A Save the Children spokesperson said the organisation is appalled by any instance of assault on refugee children in Nauru, who deserve every protection that can be offered.

They said Save the Children is working “flat out” to provide the best possible support to the children in their care, however, they maintain that Nauru is not a sustainable solution for refugee children, particularly those without family present.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/10/29/we-will-fg-kill-you-beaten-nauru-refugees-fear-their-lives

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