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.
More than 200 people from Melbourne’s Hazara community held a three-hour protest in Federation Square on February 25 to draw attention to the rising violence against the Hazara community in Pakistan. About 100 Hazara people were killed in the latest bomb massacre in the city of Quetta in Balochistan province on February 16.
Najeeba Wazefadost came to Australia as a child refugee in September 2000 by a perilous journey by boat. She is now president of Hazara Women of Australia and I interviewed her for Green Left TV at a 500-strong Hazara community demonstration in the centre of Sydney on February 20 to protest the ongoing massacres of Shia in Pakistan. See the GLTV video and photos of the protest below.
Three of the 12 Tamil asylum seekers accused of rioting at Christmas Island detention centre in November 2009 have had their charges dismissed. The lawyers for detainee Mr Suntharalingam successfully argued that it would not be fair to use his record of interview against him, as he did not fully understand the caution given to him by the Federal Police at the start of the interview. Without the interview Commonwealth prosecutors were unable to continue the charges against him.
Hazara asylum seekers, who broke out of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin on September 1 to hold a peaceful seven-hour protest, have been transferred to the WA Curtin detention centre. On September 3, Australian Association of Hazaras spokesperson Arif Fayazi told ABC radio he was concerned for their welfare. Fayazi said that when he was in detention in similar circumstances in 2000, many of his fellow detainees became so distressed they harmed themselves.
Most Melbourne people wouldn’t know that there is a refugee detention centre, called the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, in Broadmeadows. It is hidden away behind the Maygar army barracks on Camp Road with no sign to indicate it is there. The Socialist Alliance organised a protest outside the centre on August 11 to publicise its existence. When the local media was notified about the protest, none of the journalists approached had heard of it.
It’s an unlikely scenario, but former refugee and now human rights advocate Riz Wakil says he’s even willing to take a surfing lesson from Tony Abbott if that means he has the chance to knock some sense into the Coalition leader’s head about his racist refugee policies. On June 15, GetUp! won a charity auction prize — a surfing lesson with Abbott –— and donated it to Wakil, who arrived on Ashmore Reef in 1999 and was held in Curtin detention centre for nine months. Now a permanent resident, he runs a printery.
On May 30, big protests were held in most Australian capital cities against recent killings in the Afghan province of Behsud. Fifteen hundred people rallied in Sydney and up to 400 in Melbourne. Initially, the protest was to demand the Australian government stop deporting Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan, because the situation is not safe for the Hazara ethnic minority. However, when news broke that some Hazara had been massacred by Afghan Pashtun nomads in the province of Behsud, the protest’s focus shifted to calling for international support for the Hazara.
“Stop trampling rights to win votes”; “Stop breaking laws to win votes”; “Stop racist policy risking lives” and “Stop the freeze on asylum seekers' rights” were key slogans at a rally organised by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations on May 8, as part of a national day of action. The 300 protesters heard from Chaman Shah Nasiri, a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan who had suffered in the now-closed Nauru detention camp under previous Coalition prime minister John Howard's Pacific Solution policy.