The Gillard government’s latest attempt at stopping asylum seekers from coming to Australia to seek protection appears to have sunk the already disgraceful policy to new lows. Judging by where Australia’s asylum seeker policy stands, it appears that:
For those who’ve come across the seas,
We have indefinite detention and desolation to share!
This fall from grace started with the reintroduction of the Howard era’s draconian Pacific Solution. At least four hundred people have now been sent to the desolation of Nauru, where the conditions can at best be described as inhumane and tough. Dozens, including women and children have been sent to Manus Island. In effect, despite all the sloganeering over people smugglers, it is the asylum seekers who are being subject to harsh treatments and punished for the “crime” of seeking asylum – an act perfectly legal under international law.
The Gillard government strategy does not merely stop at punishing asylum seekers, but a new report by the Globe and Mail shows that we are involved in playing a “deadly game” with the lives and safety of communities under siege at the hands of the Taliban and AlQaeda affiliated religious extremists – the same people we have fought against for over a decade and have spent precious lives and money while doing so. Members of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation are reportedly pressurising and assisting the Pakistan authorities in ethnic profiling of Hazaras travelling via Pakistani airports. It is worth a reminder that for more than a decade now Pakistan’s Hazara community have born the brunt of target killings, suicide attacks and targeted bombings at the hands of sectarian extremists aligned with the Taliban.
“…the pressure applied by Australian authorities has resulted in Pakistan using ethnic profiling to try to seal off its borders to Hazaras trying to escape.”
For a government that is persistently vocal on the issues of human rights violation in South and South-East Asia, it is scandalous to be a party to strategy that plays right into the hands of the killers of the Hazara people, and to co-ordinate ethnic profiling with the Pakistani state,which has miserably failed to stop a genocide-in-the-making or is complicit in the murder of over a thousand Hazaras.
Circled in black is one of these ads juxtaposed with the aftermath of a suicide attack targeting a religious rally by members of Pakistan’s Hazara community, whose members are amongst the asylum seekers fleeing Pakistan. The attack killed 54 people and injured more than 150. The supposedly dissuasive Australian advertisement and the plumes of fire and smoke amidst dead bodies and spats of blood tell a lot about the disparity between the concerns of the Labor government and the fears of the communities from which asylum seekers originate.
Edit: News circulating on Facebook and Twitter report that today, a further 2 to 3 Hazaras have been target killed in Quetta.
Edit2: Dawn News:
“Three separate shooting incidents in the span of an hour claimed two lives and injured three other people in Quetta, the provincial capital.”
For those familiar with Quetta’s main streets and considering the time-span between the consecutive attacks, there appears to be a pattern in today’s attacks. First, the killers carry out an attack in the city hub in Qandhari Bazar, they then ride down a kilometer to Saleem Medical Complex and shoot up the next Hazara man they spot, and then they ride down the Double Road and shoot up another Hazara man. All of today’s attack took place in the commercial zone of the city, a busy area with heavy traffic and a large number of security personnel roaming around. In most other places in the world, the killers will have to be wearing invisibility cloaks to carry out such brazen attacks and then disappear without a trace. In Pakistan, it’s just another footnote in the events of the day.
While insecurity and lawlessness has increasingly become the norm across Pakistan, and minority groups particularly the adherents of Shi’ism are being persecuted and targeted mercilessly, the attacks on Hazaras are especially concerning. They are particularly vulnerable as they live in a country where they are different and distinct in their appearance, their language and their political vulnerability, all topped by their adherence to Shi’ism. In essence, they don’t have a territory to run way to; they can neither blend in, nor become invisible but run away to seek protection in places they are not wanted. Those in positions of power and authority are not doing anything to stop the killings, and they are increasingly refusing to open their doors to those fleeing the massacre – - such is the tragedy of living in a society governed by false sense of morality, corrupt ideals and failed institutions!