My halted journey toward freedom

On 26 July 2013, I was with my classmates on my way home from my English language class. Suddenly, two bomb explosions occurred, one in the market and the other in the neighboring bazaar. I was just walking around the market (which was just 20 meters away from me) and going back to my village to the main town to catch a bus. The second blast almost hit me. Fortunately, I was behind a bus that saved me with just minor injuries, but I lost one of my most cherished classmates. Ashfaq in Indonesia (Supplied)

I was just fifteen years old when I was forced to run for my life. I dreamed of seeking a better education in Australia and becoming a pilot. Instead, I became a refugee in Indonesia, which does not recognize my existence and basic rights. I am even refused an education in this country. I have been in limbo for the last eight years. I lost my innocence, my dream and my hope for the future. Only because I am seeking safety from being bombed in Pakistan by the Taliban.

I was born in a small village in Pakistan. As a child, I grew up happily and had no knowledge of the hatred and bigotry that bear Sunni against Shia. In fact, I had a lot of Sunni friends, and we coexisted. We used to play and celebrate wedding parties together, shared food with each other, especially on the day of Eid. But things quickly began to shift when the Taliban started arriving in my city. In 2007, many armed groups (Taliban) came to my city. The government did not do anything while they were travelling through, nor did anyone stop them as they claimed to be Islamic pilgrims and said they had come to teach Islam to Sunni people. In reality, they were spreading hatred against Shia people.

My village has a small population and is closely connected to one of the largest Sunni villages, Bushahara, in the south eastern part of Pakistan. We were surrounded from every angle, which made it nearly impossible for us to escape with our lives. Taliban would come to threaten us to leave the village with the warning that if we did not, they would bomb us. But we refused to leave as we had nowhere else to go. Then they began attacking our village. Many of the villagers were killed.

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10 December 2020

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Social Justice

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JN Joniad and Ashfaq Hussain - Eureka Street

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1. Imagine you are 'JN Joniad and Ashfaq Hussain' without clicking on the original source link. Reflect on what happens next over the next few weeks and months. Write a journal entry of your experience.

2. Now click on the original source link. Research what happens next. Compare and contrast your reflection with the actual event.

3. What did you learn about 'what it means to be a refugee'? How does this make you feel? How could we help others? Why?

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