There are renewed calls for the Federal Government to rethink its freeze on the processing of Afghan asylum seekers, particularly ethnic minority Hazaras.
A fortnight ago about 80 Afghan asylum seekers broke out of the Darwin Detention Centre, pleading to be recognised as refugees.
Many had been told their applications were rejected. Others have been in limbo under a federal policy to suspend applications from Afghans and Sri Lankans.
Afghanistan expert William Maley says the visa freeze should be overturned.
The Australian National University professor says daily life for Hazara people in Afghanistan is dangerous and full of risk, and their refugee applications should be fast-tracked, not suspended.
“There’s no excuse for people in decision-making roles not to understand the risks that Hazaras face,” he said.
“The historical experience in Afghanistan for Hazaras, and also the recent experience, is so well documented that to set the bar high for them in terms of the refugee claim is really to be out of touch with the complexities that are on the ground there.”
Professor Maley says Hazaras have been persecuted in Afghanistan since the 19th century.
He says 11 Hazaras were decapitated and left to rot on the side of the road in a recent massacre in Uruzgan province.
“It’s indeed very dangerous for Hazaras. This is something which seems to have been completely overlooked by the Government in its decision making,” he said.
“Of course, by suspending processing of people whose claims probably should be rapidly approved, the Government then set the scene for clogging up of detention centres which is creating this hot house atmosphere.”
The Federal Government’s suspension on refugee applications from Afghans and Sri Lankans is due to be reviewed next month.