And the Protest is Over; What Next?

Australia – April 13, 2015 |

by Amjad Hussain (Journalist)



The protest demonstration organized by the Australian Hazara Federation held as is described by one of the organization’s leader in Sydney on the advice of World Hazara Council and a few Afghan Hazara youth activists is now over. The event had been organized to condemn the Afghan government for its callous attitude towards the recovery of kidnapped Hazaras who were taken hostage by armed men on the way back to Kabul from Iran on February 23 in Zabul province of Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the protest proved to be a mess due to inexperienced organizers and poor management. The organizers in a stubbornly way refused outright to take on board the experienced and skillful people and seek their useful advices in a bid to take the credit alone. Like the previous events organized by Hazara diaspora in Australia this one also proved a mere photo session, a self-projection attempt and a futile exercise as the actual cause disappeared altogether somewhere in between the slogans against the forced deportation of asylum seekers and a cry for sufferings Hazaras are undergoing in Afghanistan. To assess as to whether this protest will prove helpful in getting back the abductees it is important to analyze this event in the light of the Australian media coverage, the speeches delivered and slogans and placards raised at these protests across the country.


The news coverage of the event was nominal as most of the media outlets either avoided to release any story or just remained confined to a few lines quoting the words of an Australian Hazara Federation leader which (the personal projection) apparently seems to be more important for the federation than the release of the abductees.


One of the leading Australian media outlet, the SBS, described the protest as being held against the forced deportation of Iranian and Afghani asylum seekers to their native countries. The news channel highlighted the protest in the backdrop of the latest Australian government’s efforts to return the Iranian asylum seekers to Iran who have been refused refugee status. Irrespective of the intentional or unintentional bid by the news channel to twist the story with the asylum seekers, it shows the ill-planning of the protest organizers to mix the kidnapping event with the asylum seekers instead of keeping the latter aside at the moment due to serious nature of the incident. In fact, the organizers tried to kill two birds with one stone by attributing the protest to both the kidnapping incidents in Afghanistan and deportation of Afghan Hazara asylum seekers. The organizers should have focused on increasing incidents of kidnappings of Hazaras in Afghanistan instead of raising the issue of asylum seekers at the event because the latter is clearly connected with the former.


The other media outlets including The and Herald Sun restricted their stories to just a few sentences quoting the remarks of a federation leader wherein the Afghan government was accused of discriminating with Hazaras and adopting an indifferent attitude towards their incessant kidnappings in Afghanistan. The cold shoulder given to the Hazara’s protest by Australian media is mainly because of the day (Saturday) chosen for the protest and the poor relations of Hazara community with the media groups and representatives. The voice which the Australian Hazaras wanted to raise for their abducted fellows in Afghanistan could not be heard loud as was planned even in Australia let alone in Afghanistan or other parts of the world. The conclusion is quite obvious that the organizers failed to achieve the very objective of the protest which they had been trumpeting due to their poor management and faulty planning.


The speeches delivered and the banners and placards displayed at these protests were mainly directed towards the inefficiency and failure of the Afghan government to provide security to ethnic Hazaras in Afghanistan. The speakers cried for the sufferings of Hazaras in Afghanistan and condemned Afghan authorities’ indifference towards the recovery of the abductees. They demanded of the world powers and the United Nations to intervene in the matter and exert pressure on the Afghan government to take effective measures to ensure early release of the abductees.


The question which arises now is as to what would be the next step of the federation for release of the kidnapped men if these protests fall flat (which is likely) on Afghan government. One of the federation leaders responded that they would meet the Afghan ambassador in Canberra and approach the Afghan Hazara MPs and chief executive in Afghanistan as the follow-up steps. This seems to be a very childish approach towards a very sensitive issue. Does it make a sense to talk to somebody after bashing him? Why not to speak to him before? Will the Afghan ambassador and officials listen to them now as sincerely and seriously as they were assumed to do before the protest? The answer is no and it implies that the protest call was a wrong decision which in fact is going to backfire instead of ensuring the release of the abducted Hazaras. It is also worth consideration that the video of beheading of one of the 31 Hazara abductees surfaced on social media just after the announcement of the global-level protest by Hazaras.


Australian Hazara Federation needs to broaden its scope of thought to properly understand the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan in the wake of President Ashraf Ghani’s recent moves to appease Taliban and offer them a share in Afghan government besides the proxy war going on between India and Pakistan to hold sway in their neighbouring country. They also need to comprehend the role of other countries including the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, China and Russia in the region and only then they would be in a position to devise a wise strategy regarding security of their fellow countrymen not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan and Iran.

It is noteworthy that the kidnappers, who are described as activists of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, have recently demanded the release of their 12 men currently in Afghan government’s custody in return for setting free the Hazara hostages. The demand is, however, reportedly been rejected by the Afghan National Security Council. Hazara organizations in Australia and other parts of the world must understand the fact that such extremely sensitive issues cannot be resolved emotionally by giving a sudden call for protest demonstrations across the world without any proper contemplation. They need to be addressed diplomatically and politically through well-deliberated plans and effective strategy.

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