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
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.