Afghans seeking Australian humanitarian visas say Taliban are ‘hunting us like animals’ | Australian immigration and asylum

Afghans who’ve utilized for Australian humanitarian visas say they are residing in worry because the Taliban are “hunting us down like animals”.

Accounts of their “painful” experiences beneath the Taliban regime – together with testimonies of beatings, interrogations and threats to members of the family – are set to be offered to a Senate inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan, which begins public hearings on Monday.

A Hazara man described being interrogated by the Taliban as they demanded to know whether or not he was a civil activist and had any hyperlinks to foreigners.

The man, whose identify can’t be printed for security causes, stated he was taken right into a cell the place he was blindfolded and gagged.

“I received 26 lashes. I felt the first five lashes and after that I couldn’t feel anything anymore, my back became numb.”

He recounted later being threatened with execution. “I believed my life would soon be over. I was so frightened,” he wrote. He was ultimately launched from custody and is now in hiding, sleeping in a special place each evening.

“The Taliban have been calling me every night,” he wrote. “They tell me not to try to run away, that wherever I am, even outside of Afghanistan, they will find me.”

It is one in every of a number of testimonies compiled by an Australian citizen who has been serving to Afghan nationals apply for Australian humanitarian visas, with the help of Rural Australians for Refugees.

In one other account offered to Guardian Australia, a former Afghan nationwide military soldier stated he had come out of hiding briefly to “send the papers and identity documents to friends who are helping me apply for a humanitarian visa to Australia”.

“They [the Taliban] say they forgive everyone who has worked with foreigners, or who worked in government or in the army,” he wrote. “But in reality, they are hunting us down like animals. I fear we will all be killed in the end.”

A employee for a non-government organisation famous the Taliban had been going door-to-door, purportedly to evaluate humanitarian wants.

“They are using this as a way to spot people, in the guise of a humanitarian assessment, which is disgusting basically. They are doing evil things behind ‘good deeds’.”

This individual stated he hoped to go away Afghanistan legally and had acquired an acknowledgement letter from the Australian authorities for his household’s humanitarian visa software in mid-September.

Meanwhile, a Hazara hospitality employee described the previous few weeks as “the darkest of my whole life”. He stated many younger individuals had been “willing to gamble with their lives to illegally cross the borders into neighbouring countries”.

“Living here is much more suffocating and more painful. It’s a slow, gradual death,” this individual wrote.

“I just hope that at least we can get out of here and be somewhere where we will be treated as human.”

The Greens senator Janet Rice stated she discovered the testimonies to be “really heartbreaking and gut-wrenching”, and she deliberate to cross them on to the brand new Senate inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan.

Rice stated the accounts would function “very significant evidence” to the inquiry “to cut through the propaganda that has been perpetuated by the Taliban that things are fine and that people are safe”.

“It’s just really sobering to see this is what is happening on the ground to human rights defenders, to Hazara people, to other ethnic minorities,” Rice stated.

“People are living in absolute fear for their lives, and from some of the accounts we know that that fear is absolutely justified because they’re being taken in and tortured.”

Rice referred to as on the Australian authorities to simply accept no less than 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan. The authorities has reserved 3,000 locations inside its current humanitarian consumption for this monetary 12 months, however has stated this quantity is a minimal.

On Monday 4 authorities departments – together with residence affairs and defence – might be questioned on the first listening to of the Afghanistan inquiry in Canberra.

The Senate’s international affairs, defence and commerce references committee is investigating how the Australian authorities ought to reply to the newest developments in Afghanistan, following the autumn of the nation to Taliban in August.

That consists of how you can “protect Australian citizens, visa holders, and Afghan nationals who supported Australian forces, where they remain in Afghanistan”.

The inquiry may also study whether or not Australia’s longest navy engagement met the objectives set by successive governments, and the adequacy of the preparation for withdrawal.

The Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, who chairs the committee, stated she believed Australia “was a force for good in Afghanistan” however the inquiry would pursue essential questions.

“Australians – especially the brave men and women of the ADF who risked everything and did so much good, our diplomats, and aid workers – want answers to some big questions about our role in Afghanistan,” Kitching stated.

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“Why were we there? Was our strategy correct? What did we accomplish? Could we have left in a better and more dignified manner? Who did we leave behind?”

Australia closed its embassy in Kabul in May on safety recommendation, and eliminated its ultimate 80 troops quickly afterwards. The chief of the Australian Defence Force, Gen Angus Campbell, stated in September he had been stunned by the pace of Afghanistan’s collapse to the Taliban.

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