Memories of the victims | Cranbourne Star News

By Cam Lucadou Wells

Families from Casey Town and Greater Dandenong gathered in Dandenong’s Harmony Square on Sunday April 24 to mourn the victims of the recent atrocities in Afghanistan.

At a candlelight vigil, they mourned more than 100 people – many of them children – killed in recent terror attacks on two schools in Kabul on April 19, followed by further deadly attacks on two mosques.

The killings have been labeled as part of an ongoing genocide of Hazara and Shia Muslim minorities under a “terrorist” Taliban regime.

Co-host Hayat Rahimi called on the Australian government to recognize the “Hazara genocide” as many loved ones remain trapped in Afghanistan.

“The attacks on our schools, our hospitals, our mosques and our individuals have been constant, targeted and systematic.

“Unfortunately, under previous governments and now under the Taliban regime, we have been discriminated against.”

Mr Rahimi called on the Australian government to speed up the processing of partner and family visas for evacuees and grant permanent residency to Hazara asylum seekers in Australia.

Many have languished for years on temporary protection visas, restricted from work, income and family reunions.

“Members of our community are hard working people, many of whom have started their own businesses and contribute to the social, economic and cultural life of Australian society.”

Supporting speakers include Afghanistan and refugee advocates, Greater Dandenong Mayor Jim Memeti, and federal election candidates. Councilors Tim Dark and Rhonda Garad were also present.

Labor MP for Bruce Julian Hill condemned “blatant” targeted attacks on minorities by “extremist and radical elements”.

“They weren’t condemned by the Taliban – the so-called government,” he noted.

“These (acts) are not political statements, they are targeted and systemic acts of murder.

“It’s even more appalling that it was done in the name of religion.”

He read an email from a man trapped in Afghanistan, who feared for his life and that of his family.

He had been sponsored for a partner visa to join his fiancée in Dandenong. The Australian government did not respond to his request for a humanitarian visa, Mr Hill said.

Bruce Greens candidate Matthew Kirwan said he stood “in solidarity” with the public.

“This deadly attack this week is sadly just another sad chapter in the continued genocide of the Hazara people over the past century and a half.”

He said he bought a painting from an exhibition of Hazara student artists.

“(It is) a reminder of the unjust world we live in, but also a reminder that Australia has failed you as a good global citizen and is not speaking out strongly enough against this ongoing genocide nor welcomes with open arms the Hazara people who seek refuge here.”

But it also reminded him of “the strength, courage and resilience” of the Hazara community.

In an audio message, Bruce’s Liberal candidate James Moody criticized the “most cowardly and despicable attacks” that left “the most innocent among us – our children.”

“Please stick together tonight, please remember the dead and God bless you all.”

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