By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Dandenong’s Hazara community has been rocked by tragedy abroad. Recently, a candlelight vigil was held in Harmony Square for young Hazara students killed by a bomber at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan. Star News spoke with John Gulzari of the Australian Hazara Federation.

On 15 August, a suicide bomber self-detonated in a classroom at a Shi’a education centre in Kabul.

According to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health, at least 34 people aged 20 and under were killed. Fifty-six others were injured.

They had been preparing for university entrance exams.

It was one of an escalating number of Taliban-inspired atrocities that have killed hundreds in the Hazara and Shi’a communities in Afghanistan.

On 26 August, a sombre candlelight vigil was held in Harmony Square in response.

“This candlelight vigil is the least we (the Hazara diaspora) can do to show our solidarity and sympathy with Hazaras who are the victims of recent terrorism in our homeland in Ghazni and Kabul provinces,” John Gulzari said.

In Ghazni province, Taliban forces had stormed and turned the “whole city to dust”.

The Taliban was still in control in Afghanistan, holding sway over the central government and causing “chaos, trouble and terror” to innocent people, Mr Gulzani said.

Their targets include Hazara-Shi’ite people killed for their “race, ethnicity and religious beliefs”.

The recent attack targeted a Hazara-run school in Kabul and killed large numbers of Hazara civilians, he said.

It is a heart-wrenching situation for Hazaras in Australia, many whom stay in close contact and send money to support relatives in their homeland.

About 90 per cent come from Ghazni province, and are refugees or asylum-seekers on temporary or permanent visas, he said.

“It’s difficult seeing our people (in Ghazni) spend most of their lives like this, with their houses and buildings being destroyed.”

Mr Gulzari is part of Australian Hazara Federation, which condemned the “barbaric attacks”.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and mourn the loss of countless innocent Hazaras. “We demand justice for Hazaras from the relevant authorities in both counties and ask the UN for taking strong measures from preventing such atrocities from happening ever again.” 

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