Tony Abbott, Hazaras are not economic migrants

April 26 – Australia |



Several documents have mysteriously gone “missing” from Australian Government websites 🙂

Twitter: @hazaranet



Tony Abbott, Hazara are not economic migrants!:

 Australian immigration department’s recent move to deny permanent protection visas to scores of declared refugees and customs and border protection services’ graphic novel aimed at deterring Hazara asylum seekers have not only proved shocking to thousands of asylum seekers but have also invited massive criticism from human and refugee rights activists and organization all around the world.

While refusing grant of permanent protection to the declared refugees, the immigration minister, Scot Morrison, quoted the clause 866.222 of the Australian Migration Regulations 1994 which says that anybody who gets to Australia by boat without visa is ineligible for getting  permanent residence. Morrison introduced the draconian and discriminatory clause in October last as part of his hard lined policy against the boat people which was, however, voted down by the Australian senate on March 27, 2014. The credit to disallow the clause, no doubt, goes to the Greens leader, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young who is one of the big supporters of refugees in Australia.

The minister also tried to reintroduce the infamous “Temporary Protection Visa” of John Howard’s era, which was also rejected by the Labours and the Greens with majority votes in the senate. He also introduced a new “Code of Conduct” which imposes extra and irrational obligations on asylum seekers while living in community. This is somewhat similar to section 295-B and 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy law under which a person can be detained and sentenced to death on mere complaint of another person regarding violation of the law even if that person has not done so.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott also supports Morrison’s tough policies and has even termed it like that of a war against people smugglers, though, in fact, it is a war against asylum seekers. Tony Abbott must feel ashamed for issuing such a statement as it does not suit the country like Australia to declare war against a handful of people smugglers which is directly affecting thousands of persecuted and terrorism-hit asylum seekers from across the world who try to get to Australia by boat in a bid to save their lives. There are many other ways to cope with human smugglers, but a war against them at the cost of lives of poor asylum seekers is not acceptable at all under any law.

Over and above, the publishing of the graphic novel on Australian customs website deterring Hazaras from Afghanistan and Pakistan not to travel to Australia by boat and the advertisement “No way. They will not make Australia Home” on immigration department’s website is the worst kind of promotion to stop asylum seekers from choosing Australia as the place to take refuge. One can’t imagine that a civilized country like Australia could go to such an extent so shamelessly just to stop the people who are fleeing their countries to avoid persecution.

This pictorial story of the Hazara boy is a total negation of the plight and persecution of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trying to depict terrorism-stricken Hazaras as economic migrants is a misleading message being propagated by Australia across the globe. The way it shows the boy thinking about getting to Australia while working at an auto workshop, forcing his parents for arranging money for his travel, having lavish meals at restaurant and feeling remorse in detention centre for travelling to Australia is altogether false and quite opposite to actual facts.

It is true that Hazaras have got some representation in Afghan parliament and government as compared to the past yet they are still being subjected to persecution and discrimination in most parts of the country which is why Hazaras are fleeing from Afghanistan. Before producing such fact-distorting graphic novel, Morrison should have studied the report of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT’s) about Afghanistan (Note: Australian government has removed this doc from this URL) published on 31 July, 2013 which openly admits discrimination against Hazaras in Afghanistan on a wide range. Moreover, the UN report recently published reveals that the number of civilians killed and wounded in the conflicts in Afghanistan rose by 14% last year. Morrison should keep it in mind that he can make some naive Australian fool for some time by such cheap tactics but can’t deceive the world by distorting the actual facts.

Abbott government must try to understand and highlight the reasons forcing Hazaras out of their native countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of launching a propaganda campaign against these helpless people for political point scoring.  Hazaras are not economic migrants as is being propagated by Morrison. Nobody would ever dare to undertake the risky voyage in a rickety boat in dangerous Indian Ocean to get to Australia for economic gains. The entire world knows as to what is going on with Hazaras in Pakistan and Afghanistan that is driving them out of their countries.

Asylum seekers whether they are from Pakistan or Afghanistan or any other country, all deserve to be treated in a compassionate and humane way. Those who travel by boat to get to Australia even deserve more compassion than those who travel by plane as they put their life at risk and are not sure if they would get to Australia alive or not. Interestingly, in Australia, the government has adopted quite an opposite policy and the asylum seekers who arrive by boat are treated as criminals and punished for their crime of putting their life at risk.

Australian government needs to reconsider its hard-lined policy against all asylum seekers in general and Hazaras in particular keeping in view the harsh treatment and brutalities they are undergoing in their native countries at the hands of Islamist terrorist groups.

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Haider Ali

The writer is a Human Rights activist in Australia and can be contacted at: