On the 14th and 15th of May 2009 Hazara Representative(Sha Hussain Hassani, Ataullah Naseri and Reza Jaffari) from Brisbane met Australian Federal MPs and Senators to raise the Hazara’s Diaspora Concern with in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The following letter is the submitted document with in detail.
Letter of concern to the Honourable Members of Parliament
Dear Honourable Member of Parliament
We appreciate the time you have given us to raise the issue of our people in Diaspora and our birthplace Hazaristan.
Since 1999 about 5000 Hazaras have arrived and are now living in Australia as citizens. The majority of them were so called “boat people” who suffered from atrocities, mistreatment, persecution and ethnic cleansing by the Taliban and other fundamentalists and anti democratic forces such as Shura-e-nezar.
The reason in all our cases is very well known to the Australian government and immigration authorities. The great majority were found to be legitimate asylum seekers and thus were granted permanent residence and accepted as lawful citizens of Australia. Our Hazara people received an enormous volume of support from the Australian public in rural areas as well as the cities of Australia. Human rights observers and supporters and organizations helped us all along to be integrated into the Australian society as active, productive and a proud citizens of our new country.
With this following document we would like to request that the Australian Parliament and/or specific committees working in relation to:
- Australian military involvement:
- Development aid for Afghanistan:
- Endangered ethnicity and cultures:
ask questions and find clarity in specific policy areas where the interest of our people needs immediate attention if the present so called PUSH factors do not continue to force Hazara people to seek safety elsewhere. An increase in those arriving by boat is a natural outcome of the present situation for Hazaras in Afghanistan and those who have been in exile in Quetta in Pakistan.
We will try to address some of the root causes of Hazaras fleeing Afghanistan in numbers again, which had slowed since the fall of the Taliban as the ruling party in Afghanistan.
1.Our concern is the safety and security of our close relatives, friends and indeed, all our Hazara people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, where they do not enjoy the same support of the United Nations and other peace loving institutions and governments as they do in Australia
This includes Indonesia. (Recent drowning of Afghanis and among them the majority were Hazara, and of course the very recent tragedy of the asylum seekers injured and killed when their boat blew up )
Many Hazaras have sought refuge in Quetta in Pakistan where the situation has deteriorated rapidly over the last year.
The Killing of Mr Hussein Ali Yousufi who was a beloved leader of Hazara Democratic party and a great carer for Hazara People, especially children of war. He established schools and other educational facilities and he was a very knowledgeable researcher in the realm of history, Hazaragi language and the historical social behaviour of our people. He worked tirelessly to inform the world about the discriminatory condition under which the Hazaras have lived for over one century.
As you know he was killed on Australian day in front of his office in Quetta city. All known facts are indicating that a new wave of organised and pre meditated terror has begun to eliminate the important leadership of Hazara people before the election in 2009 in Afghanistan. This has included the killing of many Hazara policemen and more recently Hazara shopkeepers and business men and ordinary Hazara people in and around Quetta. Hazaras who return from the West to visit friends or relatives in Quetta have been targets for killing and / or kidnapping and the Baluchi leadership has begun to tell Hazaras much the same as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, “ You do not belong here. Get out and if you don’t we will do with you whatever we like.”
Hazaras in Quetta who cannot return to their villages in Afghanistan because of the Taliban insurgency there, have not been protected by the Pakistan military or police in a country at war with itself and falling into the hands of the same insurgency which threatens Afghanistan, may inevitably more and more be forced to look to smugglers to get them somewhere safe.
2.It is our concern that the targeted killing in Pakistan will be increasing in parallel with a new invasion of the Kuchi during the spring towards central Afghanistan in the province of Maidan, Ghazni, Wardak, and Bamiyan. It has been alleged that a new dimension has emerged, contributing to the violence — the involvement of Taliban, mainly Pashtun extremists behind an insurgency in Afghanistan and said to have support from elements in Pakistan. From our information in the last two years in which the Kuchi invaded central Afghanistan, neither the allied forces nor the Afghan government forces made any attempt to stop the invasion and protect unarmed civilians.
Kuchi, who are predominantly Pashtuns, traditionally move all over the country in search of green pastures for their livestock and, at the start of each spring, many travel to the central provinces, where most of Afghanistan’s Hazaras live. During the Taliban era, Kuchis were a main factor and supporter of the Taliban and their leader Mohammed Omar. As a result, the northern ethnic groups (Hazara, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Turkmens) have a long-standing distrust of the Kuchi.
Last year over 5000 homes, schools and mosques were fully destroyed and dozens of civilians were killed or injured. Hazara villages in the affected areas say the Kuchi are not the same as before — a lot of them come from Pakistan. So a new dimension to Afghanistan’s troubles and Hazaras in particular emerged with thousands of villagers being forced out of their villages in the centre of the country by gunmen said to be allied with the Taliban.
The district of Behsood, in the central province of Wardak, was a scene of devastation with dozens of burned, looted and deserted villages with refugees pouring out in clapped-out cars and minibuses; more than 4,000 are estimated to have fled.
This year we have been informed, preparations are on the way to repeat the same plus an additional invasion via Gezaw (Gizab) and Oruzgan.
We have some recommendations of what is necessary for Hazaras to feel safe remaining in Afghanistan.
3.We would like to request that NATO and Australian forces disarm all Pushtoon tribes specially those who are in the neighbouring region of Hazaras, in the following provinces; Maidan, Wardak, Ghazni, Zabul, Oruzgan, Dai Kundi, Hilmand and the district of Gezab.
This disarming must be permanent as in the case of Hazaras is already completed. Any excuse to permit Kuchi tribes and the others to “protect themselves” is nothing more than an ongoing aggravation of the conflict.
This all out war against our people appears to have the support of president Karzai and his immediate Pashtun and other alliances such as Hizbe Islami Gulbbuddin Hikmatyar, Molavi Haqqani, many other warlords and opium bandits. If this does not have Kazia’s direct support, then it is his inability in the instability of Afghanistan, to provide protection of the Hazara population, a distinct ethnic minority without allies amongst the dominant Pashtun majority.
If NATO, Australian and NZ forces are not able and/or willing to complete this task, they must draw a line of protection for the Hazaras (person, property, land, animal and grazing land).
We are raising this issue on the basis of our experience in the last three years.
4. We know that the outcome of development aid in the Pushtoon areas has been enormously large, non productive and subject to misuse by the Taliban and Alqaida. In addition the cost of the security for the project has outstripped the benefit. Further more the schools or other reconstruction projects that have been built are often destroyed by the waring parties soon after. Effectively most development aid did not fulfil its aim and the desirable outcome forecasted.
In contrast development aides in Hazara areas have been absolutely minimum and foreign aid money invested were in small pit project; which have been unsuccessful too.
5. In the agricultural sector the over use of fertiliser, imported (Genetically Modified) seeds accompanied with use of herbicide have destroyed the traditional system of organic growing.
Hazaras in all areas of Afghanistan including major cities showed a great thirst and desire for education but the necessary support to enhance the infrastructures curriculum and improvement of teacher’s academic quality did not receive any attention.
Other infrastructure projects in Hazaristan have been absolutely minimum and many of them have been cancelled or delayed up to this date. The reason for this is the historical animosity of central government against Hazaras to have infrastructure, markets, employment, education and thus a better life.
As an example the road to be built from Kabul across Hazaristan to Herat is a long delayed project in which the work on this highway was stopped almost entirely when it reached the Hazaristan areas..
We would like you to address these issues in your capacity as members of the Parliament of Australia. We believe any major infrastructural project in Hazaristan will create employment, create wealth and thus it will be reducing the pressure on major cities like Kabul with highest rate of unemployment and begin to address the severe poverty being experienced by the Hazara population.
From our point of view meaningful subsidies and assistance if provided to the farmers to produce fruit, vegetables, wheat and legumes as a competitive product against opium’s high price this could be a useful solution. This would reduce the poverty, malnutrition and other related problems. It seems that big powers like USA and Europeans are able and eligible to subsidise their product but Afghanistan farmers are left with genetically modified seeds, subsidised wheat from USA and Canada. At the beginning of the collapse of Taliban regime in 2002-2003 it was necessary to import subsidised wheat in order to reduce the starvation of the population of Afghanistan. This was an emergency situation and should have been replaced with more a development of aid version of policies. Unfortunately this was not paid attention to and therefore the higher unemployment and lack of food production is threatening lives continuously.
6. Declaration of war against the opium production in Afghanistan seemingly showed to be a failure. All attempts of United Nation and its projects is a total failure. The increase in production is the best proof.
A world class force with the greatest economic ability has failed to achieve its goal in the last 30 years of war and civil conflict in Afghanistan. The production and trade of opium is not just a life-threatening hazard in the West but more than that destroys lives of the younger generation in Afghanistan and causes degradation of land and a complicating factor is that the income of opium as a cash crop has been in the service of Alqaeda and Taliban.
Pharmaceutical companies are also the buyers of this product, but how they are buying and who is controlling them is an unknown subject which the world public needs to know.
During the soviet forces stay in Afghanistan many generals and other higher authorities were involved in opium trade. Soldiers became the users and victims of this product. The un-answered question remains of how is it now?
7.The Afghan refugees in Iran estimated to be over two and a half million, (the majority of them are Hazara) are not enjoying the basic Human rights which are enshrined in UN conventions. We are told of Hazaras being taken from the streets and thrown back across the border in Afghanistan while their families have no idea where they have gone or what has happened to them.
As explained so far it is our great concern that our people will be mistreated along the same line of an over one century old inhuman treatment. We would like to raise this issue with you and seek compassionate understanding and support in many areas of our people’s life.
The immediate future of our Hazara ethnic group is very much in the hands of Democratic, peace and progress loving people worldwide. We would like to be helpful in this process. Our Hazara people, as all human beings, have the desire to live in peace where democracy is observed, human rights protected and there is the possibility of economic progress and a successful integration within the society of nations.
We are seeking to live with all other ethnicities in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iran and everywhere else on the basis of peace, harmony, full understanding and progress.
We would like to bring to your attention that Australian aid has to include Hazara communities, on the basis of need, suffering and effective outcomes. Since the collapse of the Taliban as the ruling party in Afghanistan after the allies invaded, our people have collaborated with foreign forces and for this reason are punished regularly and severely by the Taliban and their allies.
We appreciate your understanding and every bit of your assistance for the survival of our Hazara people.
For further elaboration and discussion we are at your service.