Zakia Baig from the Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network speaking at the rally.
One hundred and fifty people rallied in Melbourne on April 11 against the kidnapping of 31 Hazara people in Afghanistan. This action was part of Australia-wide rallies.
On February 22, a group of militants stopped two buses travelling on the Qandahar–Kabul highway through Zabul province. They took 11 people from one bus and another 20 Hazara people from the second bus.
Witnesses say the kidnappers were known to the police but they refused to rescue them. Since then, militant groups with covered faces have kidnapped dozens of Hazaras in the northern and southern provinces of Daikundi, Balkh and Ghazni. The government of Afghanistan has been mysteriously silent on this issue and the Afghan military has not taken any steps to release the hostages.
Hazaras are the third-largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. They make up between 20-25% of the population of the country. The history of their persecution goes back to the 1880s, during King Abdur Rahman's reign.
Zakia Baig from the Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network spoke at the rally. "Do we have equal human rights? Is the Afghan government giving us equal rights? It is not.
“Thirty-one people have been kidnapped and this is ignored by the Afghan government. The people are not found because they are Hazara. The Afghan government is silent. It shows that somehow they are friends of the Taliban.
“This is very sad for Hazara. Many have been killed and the killers are not found. This silence is suspicious."
Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre said: "We see the Australian government try and send everybody back. Anyone they can. We know that they want to send people back to Afghanistan. We also know there are Hazaras in Afghanistan telling them not to do so. We need to stop this vicious cruel government doing this."
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Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi