The Massoud Foundation Australian in partnership with Ariana Australian Association, Co-hosted by the NSW Parliamentarians, the Hon. Mark Coure MP and the Hon. Jihad Dib MP , held a conference at NSW Parliament to commemorate the martyrdom of Afghanistan's national hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud.
MC'd by Rayane Tamer, the night was opened by an acknowledgment to the country by Uncle Michael West and a Quran recitation by Hafiz Aziz Rahman, who was a former employee of the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan. We were honored to hear from Professor Amin Saikal AM on the political turbulence in Afghanistan and from Lynee O'Donnell, a journalist of Foreign Policy who was involved in the reporting of last year's turmoil.
The highlight of the night was hearing from Mr. Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, Afghanistan's National Hero. Mr. Massoud reminded us of the importance of resistance, echoing his father's incredible resilience, perseverance, and fight within words.
The night also featured the incredible newly elected Western Australian Senator, Fatima Payman, who is the first female from Afghanistan and a hijab-wearing member of federal politics. Inspiring the entire audience, Senator Payman called Ahmad Shah Massoud a legendary leader and quoted him, "Life without freedom is nothing". She insisted on how important it is to have freedom in life and reminded the audience that it is important to remember that she is more than just her hijab - she is an advocate, a parliamentarian, a degree holder, a community worker, and a resilient daughter, among many others. While Senator Payman is the first hijab-wearing Senator, her efforts will ensure that she is definitely not the last.
Hugh Riminton's insightful panel with Craig Foster AM, Prof. Amink Saikal AM FASSA, Ms. Shahri Rafi was an engaging forum that contextualised the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, while also serving as a beacon of hope through highlighting community efforts. Finally, a performance by the Zahra orchestra and a final word of thanks by Steve Killelea AM concluded the sobering evening.
A big thank you to our Executive director, Bilal Waheed, our volunteer team, and the Ariana Australian Association for all their efforts in organising the night. We would like to thank the Aboriginal Metropolitan Land Council for Welcome to Country.
It was indeed a huge success and highlighted the many facets of the year that was after August 2021, and the years that preceded it. While we were reminded of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, we were also provided with a beacon of hope through all the words of the speakers and hearing the incredible efforts of the broader community in Australia. Indeed, this reflects the core of what our national hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud, stood for.