Hazaras in Australia call on Pakistan to act to end violence

Hundreds of members of the Hazara community in Australia have staged protests across the country, asking Pakistan to do more for the safety of their people there.

Hundreds of members of the Hazara community in Australia have staged protests across the country, demanding more be done to ensure the safety of their people in Pakistan.

Eighty-nine people were killed and more than 200 injured in a bomb blast in the south-western city of Quetta, the second targeting the Shiite minority in five weeks.

"This is a very systematic genocide of Hazara people," Hazara Community advocate Shams Abbas told SBS in Sydney. "It is the responsibility of a government to give protection to their people".

Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group that has targeted Shiites in the past, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The 10,000-strong Hazara community in Australia is confident the Pakistani embassy will listen to its demands, peacefully made, at this protest today. But protesters say they are yet to see any real changes made on the ground in Pakistan.

Organisers say their people have been persecuted for centuries. "This is not the end, again they will go for another bomb blast or target killing," said Hazara Religious Scholar Indress Hassan.

Amnesty International says it has documented 90 attacks over the past year, leading to the deaths of more than 500 Hazaras. "As far as we're concerned there's very little to no effort to catch those responsible," said Amnesty International spokesman Alex Pagliaro.

But Pakistan says the problem is a complex one. "The issue is not that nothing has been done. Terrorism is a larger issue, said Pakistani Consul General Azam Mohammed. "These terrorists will be brought to book".

Thousands of Shiite Muslims in Pakistan called off protests and agreed to bury the 89 victims of the recent attack, after Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf launched a security operation to capture those responsible.

"We are not different; we are part of the protesters. The whole Pakistani nation is condemning this".

Hazaras in Australia are planning a nationwide walkout from schools and universities next week, calling on Australia to use their UN Security Council status to put more pressure on Islamabad and accept more asylum-seekers trying to escape the violence.


Source: SBS