A striking new mural on the corner of Woodburn and Cleveland Streets in Redfern is offering community members a simple way to spur the Morrison Government to ramp up its response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The temporary mural depicts an Hazara woman being faced by a Taliban soldier at a women’s protest march in September.
Since the Taliban forcibly took over Afghanistan in August, the Hazara Shia Muslim community has experienced an escalation in sectarian voilence targeting them, displacement, and death.
Annandale-based artist Sharon Billinge has joined RACS (Refugee Advice and Casework Service) and the Afghan Australian Advocacy Network in calling for action for Afghanistan, including a commitment from the Australian Government to an additional humanitarian intake of at least 20,000 places prioritising the most vulnerable persecuted people.
Ms Billinge said, “I got involved in the project through reaching out to refugee organisations offering my services after a project I did with a refugee family for the Newtown Artseat in July this year.
“A lot of my work is female focused and the situation facing women in Afghanistan was hitting a nerve and making me want to use my skills to help in some way.
“As I spoke to Arif, who was co-ordinating the campaign, and he explained the Australian government’s shifting of refugee intake numbers and woeful response, it made me more determined to get a large wall to reach as many people as possible.”
As the project aims to raise awareness for Action For Afghanistan, the group is asking for people to visit actionforafghanistan.com.au to learn more about the campaign and email their MPs using the portal on the website: https://saveafghanistannow.good.do/contact/mp/
The group also wants people to take a photo in front of the mural, and post it on social media using #ActionForAfghanistan, and where possible including a sentence about why they’re supporting strong action for Afghanistan from our government.
The Afghanistan-Australian Advocacy Network is made up of people from diverse ethnic and religious groups which form the Afghanistan-Australian community.
The network says, “Despite the acute dangers faced by at risk groups like the Hazara people, the Australian Government has not provided any additional humanitarian places outside of its prior intake for people from Afghanistan, including women, girls and those most vulnerable.”
Action for Afghanistan joins the Hazara diaspora in Australia and across the world in calling on the international community, and the Australian Government to respond through increasing humanitarian intakes, granting pathways to permanent protection to refugees from Afghanistan in Australia, prioritising the family reunification visas, lifting the ban on resettlement of refugees to Australia, and more.
Ms Billinge said time was of the essence. “People must snap their selfies with the mural and get their messages up on social media soon – as the mural is only in place until November 20, when it will be painted over for commercial purposes.”