۱۳۹۰ دی ۹, جمعه

No Shelter, No Protection: Afghanistani Asylum Seekers Struggle to Survive in Greece

Within the sprawling city of Athens, Greece, Victoria Park resembles a war front camp. Close to a thousand Afghanistani asylum seekers, many are , now call this park home. Hoping to put the struggles of a war torn homeland behind them, they left Afghanistan to find security. Sadly, the hunger, homelessness, cruelty and desperation has followed them on their path.
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Zulmay, an Afghanistani refugee has been attacked several times by men he suspects are from a Greek nationalist group.
‘This park is the only sanctuary for us. If we go outside of this park, we are assaulted.” His eye is swollen, oozing and bruised. An injury confirming his claim of mistreatment by Greek assailants.
“If we go outside of the park, the Greek police will not protect us. The Greek police are reluctant to interfere when we are attacked. I went to the police when my head was bleeding after an assault. The police told me I should defend myself if I am attacked. Clearly, the Greek police will not register our complaints of harassment or assault.”
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Zulmay says it is not good to fight back. It will only worsen the situation for a refugee and it could land them in jail or prison. He is not going to take the chance of being separated from his wife and children just to fight back.

“My family needs me. I must find us shelter and food. I want to find a job to take care of my family.”
Along the roads of Athens, young Afghanistani refugee children work selling handmade items. For six months now, brothers Fareed, 8, and Hamyoon, 11, walk the streets selling to survive. Everyone in the family must do their part to earn money. Their parents ask them to earn at least 15 Euros before returning home to the park. It is a rough life compared to the children eating cereal and milk for breakfast in front of a television. A school bus will not arrive to taxi these refugee children to school for education. For now, the streets of Athens are their classroom. The lesson for “survival of the fittest” is now in session. 

These Afghanistani refugees are waiting to be processed by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), a UN agency mandated to protect and support refugees. The commission assists in the voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement. It is an immense and complicated process.
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Consumed with their own economic troubles, it appears there are Greeks without care for the plight of refugees. You would think that a people so steeped with a history of war would understand such things. The days of Spartacus are long gone. Why must a refugee fight for his life and the life of his children within this arena? Would it have been better they starve or die on the battlefields of Afghanistan?
The cruelty and confinement in Athens has many refugees feeling an urgency to smuggle their families out of Greece and into neighboring European countries.

“We are not a danger to Greece. We only want to find safe shelter and a little food to feed our children. We desire a secure place to live and find work. Our people are capable and willing to work. We want our children to have a chance for education. Shouldn‘t everyone be allowed a safe place to raise a family? In my homeland, every day I felt fearful a bomb or bullets would destroy my family. Many of us have already suffered loss from the death of a loved one. A war that I did not start took away jobs and food for my family. No one should have to endure such things.” These words from an Afghanistani refugee mother sound like those of any parent concerned for their child.

Forced to flee from the Afghan war zone, the refugees patiently wait. Despite hunger, lack of shelter, and unkindness, many of these refugees still have hope.
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Dr. Younus Mohammadi, a spokesman for the Afghanistani community in Athens says, “If the Afghanistani asylum seekers do not get help, we will definitely face a human catastrophe here.” It is strongly felt the Afghanistani refugees need the UN police or police protection from some partial European group. The Greek government is unable to handle this deluge of refugees.
Dr. Mohammadi works as a medical physician. He states that according to Greece Interior Affairs, during the past six months, 60 Afghanistani refugees entered Greece every day! There were already hundreds of undocumented refugees in the country who did not have the financial means to settle anywhere, period.
Based on statistics by GCR (Greece Immigration Administration), 30,000 Afghanistani refugees have entered Greece since last year. The Greek government has only granted official refugee status to 52 of them.
The current economic crisis in this country has already disabled the Greek government. Adding the thousand fold refugees issues only compounds their budgetary problems. There clearly is an immediate need for international help with this crisis.
Most Afghanistani asylum seekers do not register their names at the police department because they do not want to settle in Greece. With no registration, they are unable to be covered by healthcare services.
“Refugee children are confronting an extreme situation here. They do not have access to medical care and they are malnourished as well. Many children confined to Victoria Park suffered severe sunburn and dehydration during summer. Soon, winter will be upon us. Only 58 families have registered and received a health card. Out of a thousand.”
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Dr. Mohammadi urges the refugees to get documented, but he understands their frustrations.
You must be asking yourself the same questions as I did. Exactly how do you explain to homeless, hungry people the need to fill out registration paperwork for police who can’t help when you need them? Where there is hunger, there is stealing. Where there is desperation, there is frustration, anger and potentially violence. Why bog down a country’s overwhelmed and understaffed police department by asking them to register refugees when it is the United Nations mandate to place such displaced persons?
So far, twelve refugee children between ages 9 and 13 were found wandering the dark streets of the city alone. They were malnourished and emotionally impaired. These children are now protected by an association in Athens called “Child Smile”. It is critical these refugee children are protected and nurtured for the sake of their future. If their parents can not do it, someone must step up and see to it the children are cared for.
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I urgently present this plea of hope for these refugees in Athens. All human rights organizations, please pay close attention to this crisis! Yes, the economic crisis hitting Greece is a serious problem, but the violation of human rights for these refugees certainly deserves attention from the international community.
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۱۳۸۹ اسفند ۱, یکشنبه

Enough of injustice, cruelty and oppression

By: Basir Ahang

Basir Ahang
In August, last year, it was reported from Kunduz Province in north Afghanistan, that a young couple have been stoned to death by the Taliban. Although this barbaric act was severely condemned by various Human Rights organisations including Amnesty International who demanded of the Karzai government to bring the perpetrators into justice, yet this case, like hundreds of other cases in government offices, was buried under the dust and nobody pursued them.
As far as I know, the same problem has occurred in various parts of Afghanistan in abundance and the proclamations of them are the detested Taliban, the Group which takes responsibility of these crimes with pride. This abhorred Group, during their rule in this country, had declared all abominable to the citizens except eating food and drinking water. Aside from the crimes and massacres, they had enacted laws which deprived women of their fundamental rights and even they were not allowed to go out for shopping.
In respect to the previous month’s stoning of this young couple in Kunduz Province, the video of the crime has cracked the means to it. This video is a proof of the crimes of the Taliban rule. The member of this loathful Group, whom Hamid Karzai calls his brothers and Farooq Wardak appealed to them for reconciliation in a visit to the UK a few days ago, in broad-day light and in the presence of hundreds of people, permanently silenced Sadiqa 23 and Khayyam 28 in Kunduz Province in north Afghanistan “because of their affection to each other” with the stones bearing religious manuscript. This incident needs not be elucidated and that the tragic incidents are broadcast via Tolo TV, are really censured being dejecting and horrifying.
The killers of Sadiqa and Qayum and the perpetrators of hundreds of other distressing crimes in this country are the Taliban. They, at present, without carpel and gun that they had 10 years ago, commit these crimes, but this time with complete support of Farooq Wardak as a democratic and manpower organ, perpetuate these crimes.

It is good that our attention has been drawn towards the past ill-doings of this Group (the Taliban), so that we are aware of. If the people do not realize to take Karzai into task who is looking for ways to give supremacy to this loathsome Group, we may be subject to worse incidences.
A brief to the past:
The Taliban from day one of their ruling warned the non-Pashtun nations of Afghanistan that who call themselves separate entities, should leave the country or they should be Muslims like them (the Taliban). After this warning, Abdul Manan Niazi, the Taliban spokesman, in post occupation and the announcement of a three day massacre in Mazar-e-Sharif, he proclaimed that the Tajiks should go to Tajikistan, the Uzbeks to Uzbekistan and the Hazaras to Ghoristan (graveyard). They forced the Hindu and Sikh citizens of the country to wear special costumes in order that they can be recognized. After the pronouncement of Mullah Niazi, the Taliban started door to door search of the non-Pashtun areas in various parts of the country and the innocent Hazaras were massacred in large numbers for being non-Pashtun. Witnessing these depressing crimes and genocide in Parwan, Mazar-e-Sharif and Bamiyan, exacerbated with the time passing and even the non-Pashtun passengers were forcefully taken off vehicles to be killed.
Examples of these types of mass killings were executed in different parts of Afghanistan but the worse one, subjected to the genocide of the Hazaras took place in rear Kunduz, Shaajoi District and Zabul province in autumn 1999.
At that time, the District Chief of Shaajoi was very close to Mullah Omar and belonged to Qandahar Province who had commanded his people to shoot those who are identified as Hazaras. This Taliban Commander would carry out complete vehicles’ search en route to Ghazni and Qandahar taking the Hazara passengers captive and decapitating them at night. The genocide and mass killings of the Hazaras continued for a month and after hundreds of Hazara leaders consisting of spirituals and elders, with the dispatch of a letter from the Taliban Leadership Council and the UNO, tended to cease in the mid crimson of the UN, it terminated.
I will never forget the incidents of mass killings of the Hazaras. I must say that this is not a story but I, the talebearer, have witnessed these incidents myself.

30 November, 1998 Shaajoi District, Zabul Province, Afghanistan
I was a student of 10th class when the Hazaras of Ghazni Province were harassed due to the three year economic siege of the Taliban, were compelled to surrender and within days, the Taliban brought them under occupation. Nahur, Jaghori and Malistan fell into invasion of Taliban one after another. Maulvi Abdul Haq Wasiq, the supporter of General Interrogation Taliban, who was then shouldering the responsibility for disarmament of the Hazaras of Ghazni, in a trip to Jaghori and Malistan districts, demanded that without interference of the Taliban army, they have to surrender their arms and ammunitions or else they will have to face fierce clash.
In this trip, Abdul Haq Wasiq was escorted by an Arab Advisor and tens of commandos of Pakistan army who even did not know Pashtu, were communicating in Urdu with one another. Fear, intimidation and the tiring and back-breaking three year economic siege, which had compelled people to surrender, took away all resources from them within five days. Hence, with settlement of the Taliban into districts and para-military troops of “Amr-Bil-Maaruf – Command and Prohibition” accelerated the pace of harassing and torturing people.
The Taliban troops, after thorough settlement in these areas, would apprehend Hazara youths on various pretexts and send them to prisons. This trend made people believe to lose hope and start suffering from poverty. Migration, at that time, had become unbearably difficult and if any Hazara wished to travel, should have obtained a Migration Letter from the Taliban or else they would be disembarked off the vehicles and tied with cloudburst.
There was no way left and I also intended to migrate with my peer. I arrived at Ghazni where I waited in a queue for two days to seek permission to leave the country but there was no acquaintance at sight which compelled me to bribe them with an amount of Rs. 5, 000/- Pakistani Rupees (being the official currency of the Taliban). From Ghazni, I travelled to Qandahar into a Coaster, we arrived at Shaajoi District at noon, at one kilo meter in Shaajoi bazaar near a big bridge, where the Mujahedeen stayed at a time, our vehicle was stopped by the Taliban, everyone was scared. One of the passengers, knowing Pashtu language and resembling the Pashtun, asked the Tajik driver what the matter was. The driver paused for a moment and then continued in Persian that probably there is a burial programme of all of us. He, further, continued that in the last one month in Shaajoi District, all Hazara passengers were alighted here so that they can be killed.
Now, someone has got the news who has been stopped, he said that it was a worse incident one day ago, he witnessed, “12 vehicles loaded with corpses, were being transported to Ghazni to be handed over to their families.
The driver had not completed his talk when two white helicopters of the UN landed on the ground. Apparently, the UN had arrived under a mutual understanding with the Taliban to take hold of the dead bodies for their transmission to Ghazni for their families.
When the UN corps alighted the helicopter, the Taliban distanced from us to guide them towards the ditch where the corpses were dumped, hereinafter, we also gathered courage to alight our vehicle and walk down to see them from near. The UN personnel consisted of three countries who were probably Americans and Canadians with two Arabs, some Afghanis and an Indian with long beard, Afghan costume and wearing caps. They were accompanied by a photographer to capture the pictures of dead bodies.
Four of us could only dare to get closer to them. When we reached the incident site, we witnessed dozens of tortured corpses were ten days old. It was really shocking. Children, women, young and old were all lying like befallen trees. Crows had eaten their eyes while stray dogs had torn their legs into pieces.
Without the members of the Taliban, who stood guarded with Kalashnikovs around the pit, all others left the site with tearful eyes. One of the UN personnel, who was the photographer by profession, solicited from the Taliban to take two pictures of the corpses from distance before switching off his camera. The dead bodies were all of Hazaras, mostly inhabitants of Ghazni wishing to escape to Pakistan after complete settlement of the Taliban in parts of the country but they had been captured here with the children and wife to be shot or beheaded.
A number of the slain passengers were these who didn’t have circumstantial information of the area, fell prey on their return from Iran or Pakistan.
There were a large number of dead bodies but, unfortunately, I could not stay there longer due to lack of time. The driver told me that we have to move out of here as they are engaged. When we boarded, the driver gathered more courage and disclosed in a long conversation that I have witnessed it several times that the Taliban walked the Hazara and Tajik passengers off vehicles and tied them with cloudburst immediately. He said that he has never felt any danger due to his command of Pashtu language and appearance but due to the incidents of these massacres, he is really terrified as they have changed into nightmares to disturb him at night.
He, further, said that the exact number of Hazara people killed in Shaajoi District is unknown; however, the Taliban enquiry has confirmed 4000 dead bodies.
In short, when I reached in Quetta, Pakistan – after numerous humiliation and insult for being a Hazara – the news of genocide of 10, 000 Hazaras in above mentioned area was circulating. For them, it was a mere example of massacre and killings of people by Taliban. This Group paved the way of hundreds of rivers of blood in their ruling, which should never be forgotten.
At present, Hamid Karzai and others like Farooq Wardak, due to tribalism and Fascism, are spending millions of dollars of the peoples of Afghanistan and trying perpetually to impose the Taliban on people, being detested for their crimes against humanity. The people have to wake up to stop another disaster and river of blood.
This Group and many other murderers of innocent people, in front of your eyes, despite having the blood stains of your brothers, sisters, wives and children are appointed on top government positions by Hamid Karzai and with the spent of huge amounts of money from government exchequer, they are sent to the Parliament, the apex legislature organ of the country.

Take a look at the record of the Taliban and see why people like Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, Abdul Salam Zaeef, Abdul Salam Rockiti, Naeem Kochi also known as Maulavi Cable and tens of others, who would bath with your blood, instead of being apologetic and in places like prisons, have again been imposed on you with full support of Hamid Karzai and other factions including Farooq Wardak.
Look at Sayyaf and his black deeds which indulged thousands of people into a bloodbath and ask yourself as to why he is blossoming then before, and with full support of Karzai and his team appear on political spectrum of Afghanistan and claim to be the legislators of the country and for his induction millions of dollars are spent in one night.
Ask yourself that instead of the Parliament, why they are not behind the bar and like hundreds of other criminals who have been prosecuted in various countries, why they are not handed over to the judiciary?
Ask yourself that where this money comes from to be spent on Sayyaf who offers the members of Parliament with a lofty amount of 40, 000 US dollars and a vehicle costing $15, 000 US dollars to buy their vote?
There is no need to blame as you can witness all occurrences yourself should you look at the past happenings. Hence, we had better cure this concocted cancer. We need to find a way of justice in the country with collaboration:
Now, you have less time and only you can choose one from the three following:
1- Being left for humiliation, wretchedness and injustice forever.
2- The court trial of these criminals and re-establishment of a responsive and elected government which should treat all citizens equally regardless of ethnicity, religion and race.
3- Or going towards analysis, provided there is no way available for resolution, it is better that the country should be analysed rationally so that the Group of people in Afghanistan whose destiny has been played with for hundreds of years, depriving them of all rights and privileges, should be given their due rights.

This country has no value for people who have never seen them in this context. This is enough of three hundred years of injustice and cruelty. People have tolerated them more than their patience and courage, showing forbearance. Not only this inflection has been apprehended by the teams of the ruling clans but they have increased these cruelties and injustice against their countrymen/people.
I have jot down these pains and miseries for my fellow countrymen, for those who have experienced the predicaments and know these hardships. Perhaps, this writing has much fetidness but it is pain and however you tend to write, pain is pain.
I have written the incidents of these massacres after a long time as I did not wish to sadden others of these tragic incidents which have penetrated deep into my bone but, today, after watching the film of lapidation of unsuccessful fellow countrymen, Sadiqa and Qayum, the filthy pain awoke and I thought to share it with you.
With the hope of the destruction/defeat of ignorance, Fascism and injustice in the motherland of my forefathers.
Long live the sorrowful and distressed compatriots!

۱۳۸۹ دی ۲۹, چهارشنبه

Acid attack on prominent journalist

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Reporters Without Borders condemns the assault yesterday on a leading journalist and writer who was the victim of an acid attack as he left his home in the Afghan capital Kabul.

Razaq Mamoon, who works for several media outlets and presents a program on the independent station Tolo TV, was taken to the military hospital in the capital. Doctors say though he is suffering from first-degree burns his injuries are not life-threatening and that his sight is not in danger.
"Reporters Without Borders calls on the Afghan authorities to conduct a thorough inquiry and to guarantee the safety of the journalist,” the press freedom organization says.

“We have already identified a dozen or so cases of violence against Afghan journalists for 2011. The authors and originators of this barbarous act must be swiftly identified and arrested.”
Kabul police chief Zaher Mohammad told reporters that there had been no arrests in the case but the police were following up serious leads.

“An acid attack is quite an unusual attack on journalists,” said Sediqolah Tohidi of the Afghan organization for the protection of journalists NIA.
“This event is very worrying. The government must react at once. To leave this act unpunished is to allow independent censorship and fear.”

"I was deeply shocked,” deputy culture minister Mobarez Rashedi told Reporters Without Borders.
“I at once went to the hospital. Several journalists were already there. I think this attack has a negative impact on journalists and free speech in Afghanistan. The government is doing all it can to ensure the successful outcome of the investigation and arrest the authors of this attack."