Record number of asylum seekers arrive

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Hazara People note: If the author(s) of this story looks at the report and news about Hazara People in this website, they will find that Hazara people are in great danger in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Alexandra Kirk reported this story on Thursday, November 4, 2010

ELEANOR HALL: Last night’s arrival of two more boatloads of asylum seekers will see the Federal Government overtake a record that had been held by the Howard government.

Labor now presides over the largest annual intake of asylum seekers arriving by boat with the number of arrivals so far this year coming in at 5,547.

The Government says it expects that a higher proportion of Sri Lankan and Afghan refugee claims will now be rejected, arguing that conditions in those two countries have improved.

But Professor Amin Saikal who heads the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University told Alexandra Kirk that the measures used to judge whether Afghans should be granted refugee status are too restrictive.

AMIN SAIKAL: Well I think their information by and large is correct. And I think it does provide justification for some of the Government policies.

But what I’m really concerned about is specifically in relation to the status of Hazara because the bulk of the asylum seekers who have come to Australia are made up of people from the Shi’ite sect of Islam in Afghanistan which constitutes about 15 to 20 per cent of the population.

And as far as I understand that the situation is not as desperate for the Hazara population of Afghanistan or for that matter the Shi’ite population of Afghanistan these days as it has been in the past, particularly when the Taliban was ruling the country.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So what’s your concern then?

AMIN SAIKAL: My concern now is that that situation of the Hazaras are pretty much the same as many other groups in their country. And in fact I think the Hazaras are having better security and more stability in the areas where they are concentrated, than has been the case in the past.

I think it singles out the Hazaras as fairly deprived in this group. And what I’m basically trying to say that while that has been really the case in the past, but I think in the current situation in Afghanistan the standing of the Hazaras has improved in the sense that they do have a share in the power structure in the country and they have a share in the running of the government.

And the areas where they are concentrated, that is central Afghanistan and western Afghanistan, is relatively the most peaceful and secure areas in the country.

And of course the governor of Bamiyan who herself is a Hazara and the first woman to become a governor in the history of Afghanistan has important plans, not only for a cultural development but also building a new city for the Hazaras.

And the New Zealanders have deployed their troops and have done a very good job and provincial reconstruction team that they are running.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Are you saying that it would be safer to return Hazaras to a number of areas in Afghanistan, safer than the guide suggests?

AMIN SAIKAL: I think there is going to be no impediment as far as I can see for the return of the Hazaras to Afghanistan provided that they are, and they are willing to return to their areas where there is concentration of the Hazaras, areas that is in central Afghanistan and western Afghanistan. And those areas are fairly safe.

Of course if you do return the Hazaras to the southern and eastern province of Afghanistan which is the hotbed of fighting between the Taliban and government forces and their international supporters, then obviously their life would be more in danger.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So you don’t think that Hazaras returning to areas where Hazaras are in a majority would face persecution?

AMIN SAIKAL: I don’t think so for a minute that that would really happen.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You think then that the guide is too conservative when it comes to you know whether it’s safe for Hazaras to return there, to some areas of Afghanistan?

AMIN SAIKAL: I think that is very, that is the case to a considerable extent. And if Hazaras if returned to provinces where the Hazaras form the majority I think they can feel very safe.

And at the same time you are not going to really suffer any more than many other peoples in Afghanistan who are living, other ethnic groups or sectarian groups who are living in different parts of the country apart from the south and eastern Afghanistan, which is basically where the fighting is concentrated.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s Professor Amin Saikal from the ANU’s Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies speaking to Alexandra Kirk in Canberra.


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  1. Rahmat

    I am an Hazara, from Naiqala fillage of Qarbagh district in Ghazni province. I work for an NGO. My home is in Ghazni province but since I came in Afghanistan in 2004 I have never been able to visit my home. Because if I go there I will be targeted and killed. My family lives in Pakistan and I cannot bring my family since we don’t have a home in Kabul. My relatives who sometimes go has to grow beard before they have to travel to Qarabagh district of Ghazni. One of my roommates who had participated in the presidential election lost his colored finger on his way to Kabul. The other roommates brother who worked in Military Police was taken by Taliban when their car was stopped on the way from Ghazni. One of my relatives was killed while he was servicing in the military. He was only 25 years old. Hazara people are hired in the military forces only to be killed. They are sent to the front line.
    The government of Afghanistan is a Pushtoon government. They will never bring peace not for Hazaras at least. The parliament is filled with Pushtoons. Why is Karzai making peace with Taliban although he knows that they have killed hundreds and they have massacred, raped, and violated human rights. Why would Karzai give land, government seat and money to those who are killers. For these Pushtoons everything is beneficial, whether they are killers or they work for peace. They benefit from both sides. But we Hazara people who love peace, education, truthfulness, and justice we are not let to get them. There is so much difference between us and Pushtoons. We love to send our girls to schools but they don’t. We love to respect our wives but they don’t. We love to build our roads but they don’t. We love to have schools but they don’t. Has anybody researched that during Karzai’s government how many schools are built in Hazara region? How many kilometers of road is built in Hazara region? How many clinics are build in Hazara region? If you research then you will find the answer “NONE”. Hazaras are driven to the most difficult terrains of Afghanistan where even if they are not killed by Taliban they will be killed by natural disasters.
    The million dollar roads are build in Pushtoon regions so that they blow their bridges, their culverts, and their drainages. With the cost of one Kilometer road built in Pustoon region you can build five kilometer of the same road in a Hazara region. Because when building a road in Pushtoon region you will have to hire a security company and loose equipments and people while in Hazara region you will not need security company to take your security.
    If the Human Rights cannot see all these then I think these Human Rights is also a Pushtoon Human Right like Karzai’s Government.
    I work for an international company and I ask them the question that why don’t you build roads in a Hazara Region where they will reward you for your work and where they will respect you and where you will not have to spent all this money. Then they say that USAID wants to concentrate on the Pushtoon people because we need to make them happy. Because USA fight with them and they are mostly affected. Then I say to myself “If Hazaras were Taliban only then they would have roads and schools”.

  2. mehdi

    i think in some extent mr saikal is right regarding the safety of hazaras in afghanistan,s mostly hazara populated cities particularly in hazarajat but that does not mean that the hazara refuges coming to EU or AUSTRALIA should be deported, and the arab refuges from IRAQ or LEBANAN should be concerned as political refuges despite they are in majority in their countries and even the american troops are pulling out from their, the basic problem of hazaras in afghanistan is not what mr saikal has reckoned but the discrimination and opression of them for just being shi,ite and regarded non afghan is the main problem, and that,s why they are eligible of being real political refuges and perhaps this piece of notice is enough for mr saikal to bring his attention to the topic once again to change his arabic mind about hazaras,

  3. Daniel (UK)

    I think Mr Saikal is the most disgrace human being i have ever seen to have worked at the university level. Does he know that hazaras live in central afghanistan and they have to travel throught taliban areas? Does he know that how many hazaras die when they travel from hazarajat to other places of afghanistan every year. Does he know that 60% of hazaras were killed during Abdur Rahman rule. Does he know what taliban did to hazaras? I live in the UK and we fear that these Arabs may bring their socide bomber here as well.
    At the end of day he is blong to arab socide bomber and supporter of taliban. If he is not against the hazara than who will be?? Just disgraceful!!!

  4. kamran

    amin shakil is wrong but we hazara people having problem here so we are every day killed my unknow person

  5. Sam

    mr amin saikal your the most stupid person i have ever met you got no clue of what your trying to say you just say any crap that comes out of your mouth you dont know about the condition of hazara’s in afghanistan you havnt seen what we have seen and been though i can only recommend you one tip…go and live in the safest part of afghanistan for a while and then come and tel me this then i wil be the first one to go there too.