Great Southern Afghan Hazara community speaks out ahead of Albany-Kinjarling Afghan Appeal

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Nasir, Ali Sin, 16, Zahra and Mustafa Azimi, 3.
Camera IconNasir, Ali Sin, 16, Zahra and Mustafa Azimi, 3. Credit: Liam Croy / Albany Advertiser/Liam Croy

The Great Southern community is rallying behind Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority, with Albany to host a grassroots fundraising appeal next week.

The Albany-Kinjarling Afghan Appeal will raise money to help persecuted people on the ground in Afghanistan, while showing support for the region’s Hazara community.

It also aims to fund an immigration lawyer to work with local Hazaras on getting their families out of Afghanistan and into Australia.

The event, to be held at Retravision Stadium on September 19, will feature a cultural exchange between the Noongar and Hazara people of our region.

Nasir Azimi came to Australia as a refugee in 2012 after fleeing Afghanistan to Indonesia and spending two years in detention.

He now lives in Mt Barker with his wife and two children, where he works at a local chicken factory, a vineyard and a fruit orchard.

But he has loved ones who remain in Afghanistan, with the Taliban’s return to power leaving him fearing for their daily safety.

Even so, Mr Azimi said he was in a better position than other Hazaras in Mt Barker.

Menang Noongar elder Lester Coyne with Ali Sin, 16, Mustafa, 3, Zahra and Nasir Azimi and Albany MP Rebecca Stephens.
Camera IconMenang Noongar elder Lester Coyne with Ali Sin, 16, Mustafa, 3, Zahra and Nasir Azimi and Albany MP Rebecca Stephens. Credit: Liam Croy / Albany Advertiser/Liam Croy

“There are around 25 or 27 families in Mt Barker, but some men still haven’t got their family here — they are living alone in Mt Barker,” he said.

“It’s a long time that they haven’t seen their families. Especially with this situation in Afghanistan, it’s very hard.”

When the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001, Mr Azimi fled the country, and spent time in Iran and Pakistan.

He returned to his home country in 2001 after the Taliban fell, but Hazaras were still targeted despite an improved situation.

He dreams of an Afghanistan where the Hazara are accepted and allowed to study and work freely.

But after last month’s events, that reality seems more distant than ever.

Mr Azimi said that just two weeks ago, 14 Hazaras who had worked for the government were killed in Daikundi province, close to his home territory.

He, like the other Hazaras in the Great Southern, are desperate to get their family and friends out of Afghanistan.

“It’s not something that we can do alone to get these people out of the country. We request the government to help us in the process, those people who believe in humanity,” he said.

Albany-Kinjarling Afghan Appeal logo.
Camera IconAlbany-Kinjarling Afghan Appeal logo.

The Albany-Kinjarling Afghan Appeal will raise money for the Baba Mazari Foundation, which has partnered with Hazara groups to support displaced people on the ground in Afghanistan.

An immigration lawyer will be paid to help Great Southern Hazara families. The Albany Community Foundation will coordinate fundraising efforts.

Trenton Brennan, appeal organiser and head chef at Albany’s Ocean and Paddock, will open the event at 6pm on Sunday, September 19.

Mr Brennan said the community was refusing to stand idly by while minority groups suffered at the hands of the Taliban.

His wife is Jewish-American, and he wanted to be able to look his children in the eye and say he made an effort.

Menang Noongar elder Lester Coyne will greet the Great Southern Afghan community with a special Welcome to Country.

The appeal will be an alcohol-free event with Halal food.

For details, visit the Albany-Kinjarling Afghan Appeal Facebook page.

For tickets, visit bit.ly/3h8S5yM.

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