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Monday, 3 December 2018
Page: 12207

Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (13:38): Last Friday in my electorate, the Bendigo Afghan community organised a candlelight vigil, and Zahir, who is a member of the community and a refugee himself, wrote a few words for me to share with you today on just why they'd organised this candlelight vigil. He said that many Afghan people living in Bendigo are Hazaras, an ethnic minority group from central Afghanistan. They have been subject to persecution and discrimination for many years, which is why many of them have left. They have been deliberately targeted by the Taliban.

The Hazara community of Bendigo have lost many that they loved in brutal attacks just in the last couple of weeks, not to mention the last couple of years. This vigil allowed the community to come together to recognise those that they have lost but also to raise the issue in our community and to help educate others living in Bendigo about what's happening in their previous country. With these systematic attacks on schools, homes and mosques, the death toll is rising and it's likely to be the deadliest in several years. I stand with our Bendigo Hazara community and I stand with the Afghan community of Bendigo—a 250-strong community of families united, working together, to raise the issue both here and overseas.