30th August has been declared as International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances by the United Nations (UN).
Various Australian community leaders and activists under Global Voice for Humanity and South Asian Policy Initiative gathered at Sydney’s Martin Place and conducted a protest.
According to the UN, enforced disappearance occurs when: “persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.”
The program was opened by community leader and event convener Shibily Abdulla, Secretary. South Asian Policy Initiative and Global Voice for Humanity followed by cultural program by Rahat Shantonu, Habib Rahman, Sabbir Hoque, Namid and Mishu.
The speakers were: Nadeena Dixon, traditional owner of the land and Uncle Dave Bell, Aboriginal elder and community leader followed by Senator Hon. David Shoebridge and former Senator Lee Rhiannon. Both highlighted the ongoing atrocities against humanity in various countries and pointed out that the Australian government has not come forward to stop such crimes against innocent people.
Other speakers were: Renuga Inpakumar of Tamil Refugee Council and Mohammad Rauf, director, Arakan RohingyaDevelopment Association. Anjum Rafiqi who represents Kashmiris in Australia highlighted the ongoing brutality under occupation including enforced disappearances creating the tragic phenomenon of half widows in Kashmir. Ian Rintoulrepresented Refugee Action Coalition Sydney and Joe Collins, West Pauan Community.
Various Bangladeshi community leaders such as Sohel Mahmud Iqbal and Mohammad Hyder Ali who were also part of the organizing committee. The other community leaders such FarukHossain and Rashed Khan of Care Bangladesh and Zia Forum Australia and Masud Khalil Campbelltown councilor were also present.
Amar Singh, president and founder of Turbans 4 Australia spoke on behalf of Indian Sikh Community and Dewan Ismail represented Freedom Party. All speakers agreed that enforced disappearance is a crime against humanity and Australia coulddo more to stop it.
Mh Abdullah Yousuf community leader and editor-in-chief of Suprovat, Sydney thanked the speakers and participants. He is also one of the main organizers of the event; Shibly Sohail was the MC for the event.