Brother of Australian Hazara'severely tortured' by Taliban

22 March 2022 | By Sam Anwari

Source: Supplied/Mohammadmir Norozi

Taliban fighters arrested and tortured a Hazara man because of his Australian-based brother’s efforts to raise funds for refugees fleeing Afghanistan in the years leading up to the fundamentalist group's takeover of the country in August last year.

Activist and president of the Hazara Community Organisation in Geelong, Mohammadmir Norozi, spoke to SBS Dari about how his own fundraising back in Australia had led to his brother’s torture at the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan earlier this year.

Mr. Norozi says the Taliban’s intelligence unit commander in Jaghori District of Ghazni province arrested his 45-year-old brother Zahir Norozi near his mechanical workshop in the district’s west on February 5 and “severely tortured” him for 11 days.

“When (Taliban chieftan) Anas threatened my brother and family, he said that 'we have the ability to kill your brother in Australia. You are nothing to us and everywhere you go, we can hunt you down and eliminate you’,” he said.

The Taliban accused Zahir of taking in the distribution of Australian aid among the group's opponents.

Supplied/Mohammadmir Norozi

Mr. Norozi said the Taliban accused Zahir of helping to distribute Australian aid among the group's opponents during its 2018 assaults on the Hazara districts of Jaghori and Malistan.

The Taliban launched an assault on the two previously safe districts in the central province of Ghazni in November 2018 before being pushed back by the Afghan military and local resistance fighters.

Thousands of civilians fled their homes during the clash.

Mr. Norozi helped Australian charity organisation Baba Mazari Foundation raise funds for providing humanitarian relief to the refugees and victims.

“In the Taliban’s attack on the Malistan and Jaghori districts in 2018, during which many families were displaced from these two areas, most human rights organisations, particularly the Shahid Baba Mazari Foundation in Australia, opted to raise funds to provide immediate humanitarian relief to those impacted by the Taliban’s war,” he said.

“I was involved in the fundraising efforts.

“They (the Taliban) accused my brother of being involved in the fundraising and helping the Taliban’s opponents as well as distributing the aid. However, he wasn’t involved at all.”

Mr Norozi said that the Taliban intelligence commander in Jaghori, known by the single name of Anas, raided his family home twice during the 11 days of Zahir’s captivity, searching for weapons, threatening his father at gunpoint and trying to arrest Zahir’s 13-year-old son and Mr Norozi’s second brother, Noor Mohammad Norozi.

Ransom secured brother’s release

According to Mr Norozi, when community elders pressured the Taliban’s governor for Ghazni, Anas secretly moved Zahir to the Gelan district where he blindfolded him and threatened to kill him several times before leaving him at the back of a fruit and vegetable shop in freezing conditions one night.

Taliban fighter arrested the 45-year-old near his mechanical workshop. Supplied/Mohammadmir Norozi

He claimed that Anas had initially asked for US$25,000 (AUDS33,000 AUD) in ransom, but under pressure from his superiors, finally agreed to release Zahir for 500,000 Afghanis (about AUD$8000) on February 19.

He said Anas had further threatened his brother to keep the payment a secret or risk the death of all his family members.

Anas told my brother ‘if you tell anyone that money was paid, we will shoot your whole family’.