Azra was once an ordinary kid growing up in Afghanistan – until a trip to the doctor with his father started him on a journey into darkness.
This is his story.
Age: 25 (born 1995)
Place of birth: Jaghori, Afghanistan
Current location: Makassar, Indonesia
Growing up Hazara
Azra was born in Afghanistan in 1995. He lived with his family and helped his father run their small farm and market stall. He also worked as a driver for Jaghori education officials.
Hazaras typically support education and the central government in Afghanistan. Their views are at odds with the Taliban, who infiltrate the areas in and around Jaghori.
The Hazara are also both a cultural and religious minority in the country, which make them a target for the Taliban, whose campaign of persecution is in part a land grab – an attempt to force them off the most valuable farm land.
The abuse of the Hazara people in Afghanistan is widespread and brutal. They are vulnerable as both an ethnic and religious minority people, and their systematic abuse at the hands of the Taliban and the enabling Afghani government has been termed a genocide.
Intimidation and assault
A shopkeeper next to the Azra ‘s family stall was suspected of being a Taliban spy and informant. His hatred was well known and he was rude and insulting to Azra. One day, the shopkeeper tipped over a basket of apples and continued to assault Azra as he tried to stop any further damage from occurring.
The shopkeeper hit Azra in the mouth with a rock, breaking his front teeth. Azra went to the hospital and the shopkeeper was taken to the police station, but released shortly after, with no charges laid.
“The shopkeeper telephoned me and said he was moving, but that he had reported me to the Taliban.”
The Death of a Father
A week after his assault, Azra’s father was very ill, and a local doctor said he needed to go to a hospital in Kabul. Azra tried to find a driver to take his father, but no one would risk driving a Hazara person. They had no choice but to risk their lives and go together.
On the way to the hospital, Azra and his father were ambushed by men on motorcycles, armed with guns. They demanded to see papers and had photographs of people they were looking for. Azra says,
“I saw one of those photos was my own. Fearing for our lives, I sped off, avoiding their gun shots.”
Azra lost control of the car while trying to help his father and swerved off the road, smashing his stomach into the steering wheel. Frantic now to reach safety, Azra regained control of the car and continued driving, only to pass out from the pain of his injury.
Waking up in the hospital in the city of Ghazni, Azra needed surgery and was in the hospital for almost two weeks. While in pain he thought was unbearable, hewas driven into deeper pain when he learned that his father was dead.
“I wanted to see his body. To say goodbye. But my father had already been returned to Jaghori. I spoke to my mother who told me it wasn’t safe for me to come home.”
Scared, still recovering from his injury, and alone, Azra left the hospital and went to Kabul, hoping to find safety. While in Kabul, the shopkeeper called.
“He told me if he ever found me, he would kill me and chop my body into small pieces. I did not have any choice but to leave my country.”
Azra found smugglers willing to help him leave Afghanistan and go to Indonesia and he entered Indonesia in December of 2013.
Without any family or friends, only 19 years old, Azra had to trust people he barely knew.
For the past five years he’s been living in detention in Indonesia, first in Madado, then in Makassar. Whereas once the UNHCR promised to settle refugees from Indonesia into countries that respected their rights and freedoms, those doors are now closed.
“Whenever I think about their dire situation and my uncertain future, I feel desperate and I lose my hope day by day. It looks that I really sunk into oblivion as I do not see any progress in my case process.”
You can help
There is hope. Azra is officially certified as a refugee by the UNHCR, which means he qualifies for Canada’s private sponsorship program. (Canada is the only country in the world that double screens its refugees). That means he is qualified to be privately sponsored to come to Canada.
Reach out and discover how wonderful it is to privately sponsor a good person to start a new life – with your help – in Canada!