Melbourne’s Hazara community joined with others across Australia and around the world in protests condemning ‘the silent genocide of Hazaras in the name of religion and to urge the international community, the UN and the Australian Government to end their silence on this brutality’ (Media release from the Australian Hazara Foundation). In pouring rain a crowd of close to 2000 packed the lawns of the State Library to hear a succession of speakers, mostly from the community itself but also including guest speaker Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, who earlier provided the following background:
'The Hazaras are a minority people in Afghanistan. They have been historically persecuted and driven off their lands. Many have fled to Iran where they are exploited and Pakistan where they are being killed daily. Nearly 100% of Afghanis coming to Australia for protection are Hazaras.
'Hazara history is a story of massacres and flight to survive. Most recently Lashkar e Janghvi, a banned Sunni militant outfit, claimed responsibility for this recent assault and in June 2011, issued this warning:
'“Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shia-Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia-Hazaras, from every city, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue [in the future]. We will make Pakistan their graveyard — their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers.”
'They have claimed responsibility for recent attacks. On 31st August, 2011, on the occasion of Eid, as Hazaras were celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Lashkar e Janghvi carried out their threat. They attempted a mass casualty suicide bombing of the biggest mosque in Quetta. They were stopped by Hazara community members, 11 of whom were killed, including a 4 year old girl and a 70 year old man. http://hazaranewspakistan.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/11-hazara-killed-in-a...
'On 20th September 29 people were pulled out of a bus separated from other bus passengers based on their Hazara ethnicity and then shot dead. http://tribune.com.pk/story/256419/gunmen-attack-bus-in-balochistan-20-k...
'All Hazaras are now being targeted not just men, political activists or businessmen, but women are shot at on buses whilst going to the market and young boys are shot at on motorbikes by masked men. The leader of Lashkar e Janghvi is free in Pakistan, making speeches against the Shia community, planning his next assault on the Hazaras.
'The Hazara community is deeply fearful that a genocide is next. Australian Hazaras across Australia are grieving for family members lost in these attacks and violence and are asking their Australian friends to support them in condemning this violence against their people both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. http://www.hazara.net/persecution/sept20attack.html'
See slideshow of images from the Melbourne rally on Melbourne Protests: http://melbourneprotests.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/international-day-of-p... and website of the Australian Hazara Federation - http://aushf.org.au/
The short flash video attached will give some idea of the size of the rally - and the weather...