The latest: In the presence of Dr Andrew Charlton MP (Chair), and Ms Kylea Tink MP (Co-Chair) and Members of Parliament and Senators across the political spectrum in Australia, Canberra on Wednesday saw the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of the Hazara group.
- The first meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Hazara was held on Wednesday at the Parliament House and the group hopes to provide a continued spotlight on the escalating violence experienced by the people living under Taliban rule.
- The establishment of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Hazaras (PFH) was one of the key asks of the Hazara-Australian community following nationwide protests in Australia that followed the tragic attack on Kaaj Academic Learning Centre in Kabul, Afghanistan on 1 October 2022, that killed 54 and injured 112 people, mostly school-aged girls, and boys.
- Their statement read that the Hazara-Australian community have turned to the Australian government with the hope they will provide some measure of protection for their loved ones in Afghanistan.
- It stated that after two decades of military involvement in Afghanistan, which included a promise to protect minorities, the Australian government has a moral obligation to ensure the safety of the Hazara community.
- “The launch marks a new phase in the fight for greater recognition of Hazara oppression and persecution. The members of this group are bound by a shared vision to help end the persecution and oppression of religious and ethnic minorities in Afghanistan,” said Dr Andew Charlton MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Hazaras.
- Kylea Tink MP, co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Hazaras, stated that she aims to work towards a more inclusive and truly multicultural Australia through this group, while Sitarah Mohammadi, Hazara-Australian stressed that this is a positive step forward in the fight for recognition of the ongoing, systematically targeted nature of genocidal atrocities against the Hazara people.
- Arif Hazara, Australian Hazara, and Secretary of Akademos Society Inc, said that Australian Hazaras are one of the most successful refugee and multicultural communities in Australia and through this group they can achieve better policy outcomes for the community by working closely with the Australian parliamentarians and the Government.
Why it matters? The launch of the group comes at a crucial time for the Hazara people as they continue to face a dramatic escalation of violence, forced displacement, dispossession, and systemic cultural, civil and political repression since the Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021.
Zoom out: Since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, respect for human rights and women’s rights has sharply declined. This trend has radically impacted the Hazaras which constitute one of the largest ethnic groups and the largest religious minority community due to their Shia Muslim faith in the Sunni-majority country.
- Since the Taliban took control, its forces and the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) have escalated their attacks on Afghan Hazaras. These attacks have killed or injured at least 700 people.
- The Taliban has used its power to remove Hazara leaders from all levels of government, discriminate against Hazaras in distributions of humanitarian aid and evict thousands of Hazara families from their homes.
- According to a report on the Hazara situation in Afghanistan commissioned by the British House of Commons, the Hazara community is at “serious risk of genocide.” This assessment was confirmed by the Genocide Watch, who put out a genocide emergency warning in as early as July of 2021.