Monday, 14 July 2014
Statements by Members
I rise today to speak briefly about a recent photographic exhibition at the Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre in my electorate of Bruce in Dandenong. It was a photographic exhibition focusing on the Melbourne Hazara community by Barat Ali Batoor. Some 12,000-plus ethnic Hazara people have settled since the late 1990s in the Greater Dandenong area. As Shiah Muslims they suffered a good deal of persecution in Afghanistan and surrounding areas and have come to Australia in order to make a life for themselves and their families. The word 'Hazara' means thousand in Persian. Some experts believe they are descendants of Mongol soldiers left by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, a theory supported by the Hazaras' distinctive Asiatic facial features.
The persecution suffered by the Hazara people and their attempts to achieve a life together in Australia and provide an opportunity for their families was encapsulated in this exhibition. The exhibition shows not only the activities that many of them have involved themselves in with working jobs in the local area but also sometimes the loneliness and isolation that many of them feel still separated from their families.
Barat Ali Batoor, the young artist, escaped from Afghanistan when many of his family were massacred years ago. He then dedicated his life in photography to actually telling the story of his people through that process. He said: 'The exhibition is more than just the photographs that you see. It is about resilience and the human spirit. It is about men, women and children who never imagined they would suffer persecution.' (Time expired)