LONDON: Lawyers for a leading activist from Pakistan's embattled Shia Hazara community made a last-minute bid on Thursday to stop his deportation from Britain despite having received death threats from militants in his homeland.
Liaquat Ali Hazara, 36, told AFP in a phone interview from the detention centre where he is being held in England that his lawyers had applied to cancel the expulsion set for Tuesday.
“I fear they can disappear me from the airport upon my arrival,” Hazara said, speaking from Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre near Lincoln, central England.
Hazara's minority community has been attacked on many occasions by the al Qaeda-linked hardline militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and the Hazaras often travel accompanied by security squads to avoid killings.
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“A person like me, who has a raised political and human rights stature, I could be an easy target for them,” he said.
The campaigner came to Britain in 2005 to study accountancy and began his political activities in 2009, founding the Hazara United Movement (HUM) to draw attention to his people's plight in Pakistan.
The movement founded by Hazara helped organise debates on the plight of his people at the United Nations Human Rights Council and the British parliament, with testimonies from victims of the violence.
The activist applied for asylum in 2012 after receiving death threats but his application was rejected. He explained that his previous lawyer had failed to explain to British authorities the dangers he would face in Pakistan.
Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, a heavy toll on the community that makes up roughly 20 per cent of the country's population of 180 million.
The bulk of the Shia killings have come in Balochistan, which is home to most of Pakistan's Hazaras.
Five people were killed and 25 others wounded earlier this month when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Hazara colony in Quetta.
Quetta, the Balochistan capital, “has become an inferno where the Hazaras in particular and people of other minorities in general, such as Hindus and Sikhs, fear for their lives, “Hazara said.
“The whole community is like a concentration camp.”