The Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education held a panel discussion titled “Afghanistan Now” on Tuesday 26 Feb 2019. The panel discussed the overall situation of Afghanistan by focusing on the deterioration of security, human rights violations, ethnic and religious minority abuses, political and economic instability and refugee crises.
The primary aim of the panel was to raise awareness about human rights, minority issues, refugee rights and sectarian violence in Afghanistan, and to propose practical solutions to the Australian Government and non-governmental stakeholders to take into consideration these issues in dealing with the Afghan Government and non-governmental actors.
There were four experienced panellists and guest speakers sitting on the panel who all have extensive knowledge of Afghanistan’s socio-political, security and economic situation and have been working actively on human rights, minority issues, refugee empowerment and political development in Afghanistan over the past 15 years.
- Phil Glendenning (President of Refugee Council of Australia and Director of Edmund Rice Centre)
- Farhad Arian (Program Coordinator – Research and Policy at Edmund Rice Centre)
- Martin Reusch (International Human Rights Activist)
- Hedayat Osyan (Human Rights Activist and Director of Social Enterprise Nick Tiling Services)
In the beginning of the panel, each panellist and guest speaker talked for 10 minutes followed by 60 minutes interactive discussions and Q&A with the audience. Phil talked about the increasing human rights and refugee rights violations in Afghanistan and discussed those Afghan asylum seekers who have sought refuge in Australia and were working and paying taxes, but they were sent back to Afghanistan. Farhad spoke about the political, security and social situation in Afghanistan and the country’s heavy reliance on western financial and military support.
Martin talked about the lack of religious freedom and tolerance in Afghanistan despite recognition of such freedom in the country’s Constitution. Hedayat spoke of the situation of Hazara people in Afghanistan and the continuous oppression, discrimination and abuses of the Hazara community.
There were 50 people in attendance at the panel discussion who came from various social and professional backgrounds, including academics, researchers, human rights activists, refugee supporters, community development practitioners, leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and students.
It was a very successful event which the ERC will repeat over the course of this year, including sessions on the situations in Iraq and Syria.