Shrinking options: Another door closed for the Hazaras

Published: July 21, 2013
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A Hazara woman holds a poster during a rally in support of asylum seekers in Sydney. PHOTO: AFP

A Hazara woman holds a poster during a rally in support of asylum seekers in Sydney. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: 

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on Friday that asylum seekers arriving on Australian shore via boats will no longer be resettled within the country’s borders but will be sent to Papua New Guinea instead.

Not only has the decision created a stir amongst the global humanitarian agencies which view the move as an evasion of responsibility by the Australian government, it also has a direct impact on the Hazara community in Pakistan. Over the past few years, a significant number of Hazaras have sought refuge in Australia.

Not welcome

According to Huma Fauladi, a peace activist in Quetta, every Hazara now wants to leave the country because of the constant threat to life and the deteriorating security condition.

“Nearly 90% of those who migrate to other countries, including Australia, do not have the means to qualify as legal immigrants. Therefore, they risk everything to get on a boat and save their lives,” she says. “But decisions like these [Rudd’s announcement] might hamper even this route for them.”

According to members of the community, the option to resettle in Papua New Guinea as an alternative is not favourable, because of the high prevalence of violence, crime, disease and unstable conditions in that country.

“The decision by the Australian government seems inhuman to me,” says Fazil Hussain Moosavi, a Hazara in Quetta whose nephew and several other close relatives were forced to flee to Australia nearly three years ago. “It is literally a choice between leaving and dying, and even the former seems greatly threatening now.”

Moosavi says most migrants chose Australia despite the rough journey because assimilation and acceptance was easier there, compared to other countries.

‘No place to go’

Zohra Yousuf, chairperson for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), has also termed the decision as “another door closed” for Pakistani Hazaras.

“It should be humiliating for the Pakistani government that a community feels so unsafe in their own country that they put their lives at risk to migrate to other places,” she exclaims. “And now, with this recent stance by the Australian government, there will really be no place left for the Hazaras to go.”

Yousuf emphasises, quite strongly, the need for governments across the globe to be more sympathetic to refugees. While individual cases, like Rimsha Masih, the Christian girl accused of blasphemy who later sought refuge in Canada, are dealt with more generously, things become complicated when entire communities are involved.

Although no action on this announcement had been taken by the HRCP so far, the organisation may look into it very soon. However, Yousuf says she hopes Canberra will soften its stance before the need for action truly arises.

Rudd’s eyes on upcoming poll

Although Rudd claims that the decision was taken to ensure border security and discourage people from making the dangerous journey to Australia by boat, many today are accusing the premier of political point-scoring over the issue of asylum, which remains one of the key issues in the upcoming Australian elections.

Statistics reveal that nearly 600 deaths have been caused due to accidents at sea since 2009. According to local website Hazara.net, nearly 300 Pakistanis have lost their lives trying to get to Australia by boat and the unofficial death toll is predicted to be much higher.

Australia, which hosts 0.3% of the world’s refugee population, receives its largest influx of asylum seekers from countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran and Bangladesh. According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, the number of Afghans arriving via boats on Australian shores has risen by 79 per cent to 3, 079, while the number of Pakistanis has jumped by 84 per cent to 1, 512 over the last year.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.

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Reader Comments (41)

  • Vasan
    Jul 21, 2013 - 10:48AM

    Shame on Muslims and Pakistan, now that Shia hazaraswant to migrate from the land of the pure only to non Muslim countries

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  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Jul 21, 2013 - 10:51AM

    As an Australian citizen I apologise for our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s PNG deal, yes it is inhumane and he should have looked into other options. However, getting a boat from Indonesia and travelling on the high seas on leaky and over crowded boats is the most dangerous thing people can do. There are numerous boat accidents where hundreds of would-be migrants have been killed while on their way covering thousands of kilometres of treacherous seas. Every life is a precious life in an Australian eye unlike in the view of Pakistan government. You must still respect that Australia is allowing a way out by offering PNG as an intermediate destination of refuge until your case is finally processed for resettlement in Australia. Unfortunately this can take 12 months to a few years. I hope by the time Pakistani government will take care of Taliban, the Jhangvis and Jamaat-e-Islami extremists to make it more liveable country where its citizens don’t have to take such a journey. I am amazed that Pakistani journalists have displayed criticising tone against Australian PM on this news while they should better direct their anger against their own government who has created such circumstances for its Hazara, Shia, Ahmadi, Baloch and Christian citizens.

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  • Zaid Hamid
    Jul 21, 2013 - 11:12AM

    Sad day, now Australia have also started conspiring against Pakistan.

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  • zH hashmi
    Jul 21, 2013 - 11:18AM

    Indeed disgusting for us

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  • truthbetold
    Jul 21, 2013 - 11:29AM

    Why are they not moving to Iran and other Muslim countries? Why do Muslims from Muslim countries only move to non-Muslim countries?

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  • Jul 21, 2013 - 11:37AM

    The Hazaras should not have to leave their homes in Quetta/Pakistan. Obviously the government must tackle sectarian violence against them on a war footing. In the meantime, generous state support for families resetting elsewhere within Pakistan ought to be made available. Hazaras leaving Pakistan for good is a truly sad outcome.

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  • Sonya
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:10PM

    With a wide spreading protests in Australia, the recent Kevin Rudd’s move to deport incoming refugees to PNG has put the world wandring and has further put an already down and under Australia.

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  • AK
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:18PM

    This is govt of Pakistan’s responsibility to take adequate security measures.

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  • Truth
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:19PM

    Poor people, all living in most dangerous place on earth.

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  • Supersequel
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:23PM

    The irony that us south and west Asians, be it India or Pakistan or Iran, happily accept refugees or feel compelled to while the richer countries who take part in these wars turn their backs on those.

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  • SK
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:23PM

    I have been commenting on this issue for quite a while. The Asian population especially from the South Asia region is drastically increasing in mainstream Australia creating resentments among locals. It is seriously changing the composition of the Australian society which had been traditionally based on migrants from England and Europe.

    The change in population dynamics is increasingly affecting the current labour government because labour traditionally is seen as supportive of Asian immigration. The matter has become so political that the current government risk losing the election on this issue because the incoming election will be fought on Immigration issues too.

    The current labour government risk losing the election. Traditional labour voters are turning their backs on this issue and may vote for the change. Mr Rudd has no other option other than the stand he has now taken. Although I believe it’s rather a little late now but at least it a politically correct move as no government wants to scarify itself for the sake of international obligations.

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  • Cola
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:23PM

    Every one wants to jump from the country under fire.Early escape more better than late.

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  • Griefed
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:29PM

    Dear Kevin Rudd,
    Please look at the conditions of this country where every single day Hazaras are killed. This was the last hope of peace for our coumminty.

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  • Jul 21, 2013 - 12:47PM

    @Zaid Hamid: All ‘reality show’ conspiracies against us are few and the majority are IMAGINED. We need to understand the meaning of and practice of ‘nationhood.’ The rest is nothing but a figment of the imagination of our ‘tax-dodging, loan-defaulting, violence and racism promoting’ politicians. If thepolitical parties cannot understand the basic needs of a nation after sixty-five years then the citizens should catch the politicians and ‘shave the legs.’ Salams

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  • Cola
    Jul 21, 2013 - 12:48PM

    The government of pakistan have no control over the country either military.So the countries security situation is dictated by some terrorist and criminals and they walk freely with out
    any threat to them. The situation is much more worse than in somalia or afghanistan of
    killing as a passion

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  • Asad
    Jul 21, 2013 - 1:54PM

    Why not to move to other parts of pakistan?

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  • australian
    Jul 21, 2013 - 1:59PM

    I have been a regular reader of your newspaper since its launch and despite the occasional misreporting I have continued to be reader. However, your lack of journalistic skills to actually verify news items before publishing or sensationalizing news has gone beyond absurd! What the Australian PM has said is that asylum seekers arriving by “BOAT” will not be entertained in Australia as they are “ILLEGAL”. however, Australia is more than doubling its humanitariam visa quotas for genuine asylum seekers who can apply through the proper channel. I know many hazaras who have come to Australia and have settled well into the population.

    As far as changing the mix of the country is concerned, Chinese (Orientals) and Indians far out number any other races in Australia as immigrants and the majority of the people are welcoming, supporting of the oppression and helpful.

    Please STOP reporting or rather misreporting by excluding complete facts!

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  • alex
    Jul 21, 2013 - 2:03PM

    why are islamic countries not coming forward to take care of their ummat &sheltering people of their din. after all ISLAM is a BIG BROTHERHOOD sans borders& barriers of language,caste,colour& creed.why not approach the saudis, the biggest bhaai & iranians, the biggest shia country. why go asking 4 shelter to kaafirs&infidels.
    what a genorous lot the west is, despite knowing what muslims do to christians in pakistan& copts in EGYPT. sheltering so many muslims despite everything

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  • Wizarat
    Jul 21, 2013 - 2:28PM

    A discussion was being held a few months ago and Asylum was being considered for Shia Muslims in safer places throughout the world. A consensus developed that transplanting people in the numbers that we are looking at is not the answer. The answer is to put onus on the GOP to ensure safety and security of every one living within Pakistan. GOP must ensure that the Judiciary is working, terrorist including hate mongers are punished to the full extent of the law in the anti terrorism courts etc.
    We are hoping that the new government of Pakistan would ensure the safety of every Pakistani essentially making the asylum issue irrelevant.

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  • Hassan
    Jul 21, 2013 - 2:37PM

    our corrupt civil and military establishments and political leaders are busy in looting wealth of this country and enjoying big houses and Suv’s and protocol and that too for FREE at the expense of state money.They don’t care of dying people rather they have allowed terrorists to do anything they can to harm people.

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  • Habib
    Jul 21, 2013 - 2:51PM

    As a Pakistani Hazara, it has been more than a year that I am in Indonesia, just looking for a safe place. may be Australia through legal channel.

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  • Junaid
    Jul 21, 2013 - 2:53PM

    Today I am ashamed of being a Pakistani… I cannot believe we ourselves are the evil we were taught to fight against as kids growing up.

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  • Sanam Ntempora
    Jul 21, 2013 - 3:25PM

    The pity is not the actions of Australia to protect its own society from real or perceived change bought by foreign refugees – the pity is that the people feel the need to leave their own country in the first place.

    The Pakistani government needs to get its act together and get touch on the radicals and the terrorists. Start making any forms of prejudice including prejudice against women, non-muslims and minority muslims illegal and punish those who break the law.

    Pull the country out of the 6th century and into the 21st – then maybe the plight of the refugees would not even exist.

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  • pashtunyar
    Jul 21, 2013 - 3:50PM

    @truthbetold:
    The majority of refugees anywhere in the world live in rudimentary shelters in developing countries and not in austrailia or europe! There are hundreds of thousands of hazaras in Pakistan/Iran! Infact, the entire Hazara Community in Quetta migrated from Afghanistan about a century ago!

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  • Rashid (Kerala, India)
    Jul 21, 2013 - 3:55PM

    People are migrating from Pakistan by hook or by crook and the media is busy discussing whether the Mumbai attack is orchestrated by Indian government or not. You can sense the seriousness of the media/government.

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  • Ahmed
    Jul 21, 2013 - 4:00PM

    Good job Kevin Rudd…….why should one country take the responsibility of another country. A country created for the safeguard of Muslims from Hindus are unable to safeguard Muslims from Muslims……..The prophecy of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is almost coming true

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  • Kamran
    Jul 21, 2013 - 4:21PM

    This article misses the picture completely.

    Rudd’s deal with PNG just means that anyone who arrives in Australia will be sent over to PNG. It doesn’t mean people won’t be able to apply for asylum while still in their home countries or if you they arrive in Australia on a lawful visa. Moreover, if someone arrives by a boat, they will never be allowed to settle in Australia.

    This has been done to stop people from arriving in boats because boats are dangerous and many people frequently lose their lives while trying to reach Australia.

    Hazaras will still be able to apply for asylum to Australia like everyone else and there is no change to Australia’s asylum program except that people won’t be able to apply for asylum if they decide to arrive by boat.

    Having said all of the above, I can’t believe that author of this article has just spun a completely wrong hypothesis without bothering to research the topic in a little bit detail and this article has then been allowed to be published.

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  • Khadir
    Jul 21, 2013 - 4:23PM

    Me too ashamed to be called as a pakistani.Better to call as a chinese or indians

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  • Ali Hazara
    Jul 21, 2013 - 4:26PM

    when the state is involved ir ue genocide then u can not do anything except that you leave ur mother land and migrate to other countries in search of peace and secuirty. Hazaras are the victims of state sponsored terrorism. Hundreds of hazaras have died in this risk journey but the Govy. and state instituition are silent. Justice and secuirty is delayed form the state instituitions, so justice delayed means justice denied. In the land of pure we are prosecuted on weekly. No one migrates from his mother land willingly, today people are being compelled by state to migrate form pakistan. This migration is not limited to hazaras only, every minority communities are leaving pakistan due to prosecution and injustice. God Bless minorities.

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  • Pak
    Jul 21, 2013 - 6:01PM

    Hazaras are Shia. Why don’t they seek asylum in a Shia country like Iran which is accessible by bus and is 3-4 hours away?

    Do they want to go there because there is no free dole like they have in Australia? If so, these guys are pathetic; making big sob story to use as an excuse to move to a rich country.

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  • alex
    Jul 21, 2013 - 7:46PM

    plz exchange your minority population of sikhs,buddhists& hindus, parsis;willing to take them in.
    pakistanis have closed all doors for minorities to rise constitutionally.but still india is very thankful to present pakistan for having made significant contributions to our nation,e.g. sportsman milkha singh, economist manmohan singh,leading oncologist dr. suresh advani,ex-p.m. inderkumar gujral,actors balraj sahni& the kapoor clan. you may plz take our shahi imam,jama masjid, janab bukhari,hyderabad m.p. janaab assadudddin owaissi&their followers in exchange. we shall gladly give them free one way economy class tickets to the land of the pure so they can flourish to their fullest potential& keep the flag& ideals of their adopted country flying high. we are also willing to allow ,ahmedi intellectuals like dr.abdus salaam,they are free to follow their faith& contribute to the glory of india, small differences in beliefs should not result into banishment from religion.
    minorities everywhere have done significant contributions to their places of residence,e.g. jews in america,parsis in india in social work& business,sikhs in indian defence,christians in education&health.their contribution has been positive&disproportionately high in terms of their numerical sizes.a nation which treats its minorities well,only benefits itself.
    pakistan,which has institutionalized such discrimination constitutionally is only doing so at its peril,losing great human resources in the bargain……. the reason why u.s. is on top is, it gives opportunity to everyone including talented immigrants& does not institutionalize discrimination. america thus is net gainer.
    every migrant is an ambassador &spokesman of his country of origin& is always eager to visit his original homeland.sad to say, but i have not yet met a single person from present original pakistan,who has come from pak still wanting to go back.they say they they are just glad to be alive&safe in india.even muslims,who go there to visit relatives,say pakistan is a hopeless case.sad,but 100%true,honestly.time for some honest&sincere intospectionRecommend

  • Gp65
    Jul 21, 2013 - 11:41PM

    ETBLOGS1987

    @Imran Ahsan Mirza: It is not Australians that need to apologize to Hazaras but Pakistanis. Last I checked it wasn’t Australians that was killing them.

    Recommend

  • Np
    Jul 21, 2013 - 11:44PM

    @Supersequel:
    Sorry Indians move for economic reasons. They do not seek asylum. Big difference. Please do not make this Pakistani issue as a broader South Asian issue. It is not so.

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  • nasreen
    Jul 22, 2013 - 12:06AM

    @pashtunyar ,brother u need to study history ,majority of hazaras didnt migrate. They are living here when it was khurasan before existence of subcontinent .Few of them migrated after brutal killings of king abdul rehman a century ago from afghanistan.its old name was khurasan not afghanistan.

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  • Wizarat
    Jul 22, 2013 - 12:51AM

    @Pak:
    They are Pakistani too. If you are a Pakistani, this statement reflect badly on your country and this is where PM of Pakistan must be honing in to fix the security situation. Instead of asking your government to provide security to all the citizens you are trying to exacerbate the situation of the divide in various Muslim Sects. Pakistani first should be the slogan of every Pakistani.

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  • Arindom
    Jul 22, 2013 - 2:35AM

    I think India should settle them in Kashmir…..they are also muslims so no issues here…

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  • SK
    Jul 22, 2013 - 6:32PM

    There is no denying that Australia is one of the most receptive refugee receiving nation. In fact the current Labour government is so receptive to Asian immigration that it now risk losing the election on this issue. I have been traditionally a labour voter myself but I too intend to switch allegiance on this issue.

    The current government is far too liberal in its admission policies. A case in point are overseas students arriving in Australia. Most don’t come to make their career and return to serve their countries. They are inspired by the courses that allows them to apply for residency. There motivation is to make a life in Australia and not return to contribute to the progress of their homeland.

    The understanding that Australia is contributing to the development of the third world countries by preparing and training young minds is negated because instead of ensuring their return to
    contribute in the development of their homeland Australia is allowing students to remain fact this is viewed as a brain drain and breach of trust. Australia falls short of fulfilling its obligation to the less fortunate nations who rely on these students returning to make some difference.

    Australia should bring back overseas student policy of Malcolm Frazer time that required all overseas student to return to their home countries. Contribute to its development for two years and then re- apply to return.

    The current liberal polices in terms of overseas student is unfair to the country students come from. Liberal governments in Australia in the past had much balanced immigration policies.

    The current flip in Australian Government stand in regards to boat people is just one of the consequence of the growing discontent of the mainstream Australia against the liberal immigration polices of the current government.

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  • first convert -then asylum
    Jul 22, 2013 - 6:43PM

    Australia should think of giving asylum only if the hazara’s/rohyingia’s renounce their religion and convert to other religions, christian, hindu, buddhishts etc, This way australians will not have to worry about islamic radicalism in future. because once the hazara’s/other muslims are well settled, they will start demanding sharia law, no matter which sect – shia or sunni or ahmedi… u name it.

    (By the way, why Indonesia is not giving them asylum- they are also muslims?)

    @ET- I know u will not publish this comment since it hurt ur sentiments

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  • Anand
    Jul 23, 2013 - 12:10AM

    @first convert-then asylum

    Excellent suggestion! It’s like win-win situation.

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  • mohsin raza
    Sep 12, 2013 - 11:31PM

    Salaam
    Nice very nice . This is not a solution . Be strong. And give answer just like a D.I.Khan. if they get answer they will stop like jang. Dikhan gilgeth . Shame for all hazaraz.

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  • Rahul
    Sep 14, 2013 - 4:27PM

    @Arindom

    Good idea.

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