Ambassador Waissi's Speech at the AATSA Conference, Adelaide
Transcript of Ambassador Wahidullah Waissi's speech at the nationwide Association of Australian Tertiary Students from Afghanistan (AATSA) conference held on Saturday, 7th of December at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Adelaide.
Fellow members of the Afghan community,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure indeed to join you all in this momentous community-led gathering to share some foods for thoughts with regards to issues affecting Afghan-Australians and discuss solutions.
I thank the organizers for putting together such a meaningful theme and relevant topis for this year’s conference. I also wish to commend AATSA`s outstanding contribution in promoting education and critical thinking among Afghan- origin Australian communities.
Dear joint friends of Australia and Afghanistan,
We are in the last month of 50th year of Afghanistan and Australia bilateral relations. Before to give few remarks on the main issues of our discussion today, it will be good to refresh our minds in recalling the important milestones in the history of bilateral relations between the two countries. I do not want to further comment about the first milestone, the Afghan cameleers who migrated to Australia, because you know this background quite better than me. Rather, I would like to reflect on the most recent milestone, which was the first state visit of an Afghan Head of State to Australia, President Ghani`s visit in April 2017, just one month after I presented my credentials to Government of Commonwealth of Australia.
Since then, the healthy and growing relations between the two countries fine- tuned from security and defence- centred cooperation to more development, education and cultural cooperation as well as people to people engagements.
Initiation of Afghan-Australian People to People dialogue, the first Afghan higher education delegation`s visit to Australia, signing of development cooperation framework and establishment of Australia-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship group were among the core elements of that milestone. Arguably, both countries are now enjoying a closest and ever strongest bonds in the history of our bilateral relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While we showcase and are proud of our strengths, we must also acknowledge the shortcomings and realities on the ground and within fellow Afghan-Australian communities in order to explore solutions and jointly make efforts to tackle the challenges we are facing.
Let me start from the issue of resettlement and integration. Within the context of state responsibility as well as migration policy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, defending the rights of Afghan migrants abroad as well as ensuring their voluntary, safe and dignified return to their homeland are the integral parts of my Government`s commitments.
In this essence, while we are generally like-minded and have common understandings with the host countries, including Australia regarding legal migration, we cannot let illegal migration to harm and undermine other crucial spheres of our bilateral relationship. Overall, migration, resettlement and integration are common global issues which are very much interlinked with insecurity, poverty, democratic challenges in one hand and intolerance, lack of human resources and capacities within the communities involved on the other hand.
We must acknowledge and invest on the positive side of the migration and eventuate the mutually beneficial bonds which exists as a result of Afghan diaspora`s settlement in Australia over the past decades who continue to contribute to the economy, business, cultural diversity and public services sectors across Australia. We must avail the multicultural society of Australia for the benefits of our communities where rule of law, democracy and freedom of expression including religious believes are respected. No religious extremist, nor any white supremacist can harm the cross-cultural understating and mutual respects and tolerance between our communities. We must promote people to people dialogue and understandings and education to tackle cultural and linguistic barriers during resettlement and integration processes provided that our Afghan values be preserved.
Secondly, the issue of increasing mental health problem among our Afghan refugees is an issue of major concern to all of us. The saddened death of late Sayed Mirwais Rohani, an Afghan migrant who apparently died as a result of suicide attempt in Brisbane on 15 October was a tragic example as such. We urged Australian Government to follow up the issue with the relevant law enforcing agencies for a full investigation of the case to avoid similar unexpected incidents in the future. In this respect, despite the repeal of the “Medevac” legislation in the Australian Parliament last Wednesday, we do hope that the Government of Australia to continue utilising pre-existing legislative processes to enable Afghans under immigration detention centres who are in need of urgent medical treatments.
Thirdly, with regards to helping back home, I strongly believe that there is a huge potential in our dynamic, educated and decent Afghan diaspora to contribute and be the drivers for change in their home country in many areas including to assist the most vulnerable and at risks populations, in particular women and girls in rural areas, families of martyrs and veterans of the Afghan defense and security forces.
Nowadays, remittances are a major source of national incomes in many developing countries. For example, in 2018-19, Bangladesh received record of $16.42 billion in remittance with a 9.6 percent growth. With the new remittance, Bangladesh Bank's foreign currency reserves stood at $31.85 billion. By better regulating, channelizing and distribution of remittances we can make positive changes in Gross National products (GNPs) in our own country.
We can further explore possible solutions to most of the challenges which are hindering our communities to prosper in Australia, but I would like to emphasis more on investing in tertiary education, especially in most needed sectors at home such as civil engineering, mining, agriculture, water recourse management and health. Let us be optimistic and always stand ready for the post peace settlement in Afghanistan.
I conclude my remarks with a long- lasting aspiration of all Afghans wherever they are for a sustainable and enduring peace in Afghanistan. I quote a single poet of Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi – Rumi: “Everyone who is left far from his source, wishes back the time when he was united with it."
هرکسی کو دور ماند از اصل خویش – باز جوید روزگار وصل خویش