Hazaras are in the front line of Genocide!

8 Nov 2023
11 Minutes
Hazaras are in the front line of Genocide!

Today at a bomb blasted ripped through in Dasht-e-Barchi district Kabul, killed at least seven civilians and wounded 20 others.

Richard Bennett United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan denounced the bombing, said it was the third attack in less than a month against members of the Hazara community.

He urged a full, transparent investigation with a view to identifying perpetrators and holding them accountable.

Who are the Hazaras? Hazaras are one of Afghanistan’s largest ethnic minorities, accounting for up to 20 percent of Afghanistan’s 30 million inhabitants. They are living primarily in the rugged highlands in the center of Afghanistan. The numbers of the Hazara population, as with other communities in Afghanistan, is highly uncertain as the country’s authorities have never conducted a national census of the population. However, it is broadly recognized that none of the country’s ethnic groups form a majority, and the exact percentages of each group as part of the national population are estimates and often highly politicized.

The size of the Hazara community has also declined significantly as a result of forced migration, land grabbing and persecution. They were once the largest Afghan ethnic group, constituting nearly two-thirds of the total population of the country before the 19th century. Some estimates that 62% of the Hazaras population were massacred, forced to flee or taken into slavery during the 1891-93 Hazara War when the Afghan King Amir Abdur Rahman Khan (1880-1901) led a genocidal campaign of violence against Hazaras.

Many of the Hazaras who fled the persecution by Amir Abdur Rahman Khan settled in the Indian subcontinent or Iran, laying the foundation of the Hazara communities that now live in the Pakistani city of Quetta and various districts in Iran’s eastern provinces. These communities have increased in size as more Hazaras who fled from Afghanistan over the past four decades have settled within them, especially in Quetta.

Hazaras speak a dialect of Dari (Farsi dialect) called Hazaragi and the majority of them follow the Shi’a (Twelver Imami) school of Islam. As a result, Shi’a Hazaras constitute a religious minority in a country where the majority practice Sunni Islam. Significant numbers of Hazaras are also followers of the Ismaili Shi’a school of Islam or are Sunni Muslims. Within Afghanistan, Hazaras are known for their distinctive music and literary traditions with a rich oral history, poetry and music. Hazaragi poetry and music are mainly folkloric, having been passed down orally through the generations.

In Afghanistan, the majority of Shi’a Hazaras live in Hazarajat (or ‘land of the Hazara’), which is situated in the rugged central mountainous core of Afghanistan with an area of approximately 50,000 square kilometres. The region includes the provinces of Bamyan and Daikundi and several adjacent districts in the provinces of Ghazni, Uruzgan, Wardak, Parwan, Baghlan, Samangan and Sar-e Pul. There are significant Sunni Hazara communities in the provinces of Badghis, Ghur, Kunduz, Baghlan, Panjshir and other areas in the northeast of Afghanistan. Ismaili Hazaras live in the provinces of Parwan, Baghlan and Bamyan. In addition, Shi’a as well as Sunni Hazaras are based in substantial numbers in several urban centers of Afghanistan, including Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat.

Shi’a Hazaras are historically the most discriminated ethnic minority group in Afghanistan and have long faced violence and discrimination. Partly, this is to do with religious faith; historically, the Shi’a minority, regardless of ethnicity, has faced long-term persecution from the majority Sunni population. During the reign of Amir Abdul Rahman (1880-1901), Hazaras suffered severe political, social and economic repression, culminating in a state-backed declaration of jihad or holy war against Hazaras from 1890 to 1893.

Abdur Rahman Khan, a Pashtun, mobilized large contingents of government forces as well as ethnic and tribal militias in the war against Hazaras, promising them Hazara lands and men and women as slaves.  Thousands of Hazara men were killed, their women and children taken as slaves, and their lands occupied and redistributed to Pashtun tribes. To strengthen the forces against Hazaras, he appealed to Sunni religious sensibilities to mobilize Tajiks and Uzbeks (both Sunnis) to help Pashtuns fight against the Shi’a Hazaras. Those Hazaras who survived the initial period of raids managed to escape to the north, while a significant number fled to then British India. Apart from Pashtuns, Uzbeks are also thought to have conducted slave raids on Hazaras in Bamyan and elsewhere.

Hazarajat was occupied by Abdur Rahman’s forces in 1893. Subsequently, he instituted a system of rule that systematically suppressed Hazaras. This repression ranged from issuing unwarranted taxes to assaults on Hazara land and harvests, massacres, looting and pillaging of homes, enslavement of Hazara children, women and men, and replacement of Shi’a clerics with their Sunni religious counterparts.

Although slavery was formally abolished by King Amanullah Khan in 1923, the persecution of Hazaras continued. Hazaras faced political, economic and social marginalization and the stigmatization of Hazara culture and identity. In Hazarajat, Pashtun nomads who participated in the conquest of the region in the 1890s progressively took control of the region’s pasturelands and dominated its trade and other economic activities with the rest of Afghanistan. The government also collected exorbitant taxes and kept the region economically undeveloped, with no investments in roads or other infrastructure.  To mitigate the impact of this discrimination, many Hazaras concealed their identities to obtain state identification. As late as the 1970s, some Sunni religious teachers preached that the killing of Hazaras was a key to paradise. As a result of these policies, many Hazaras lived on the edge of economic ruin in Afghanistan.

Once again bitter history repeated on Hazara people, When Taliban came to power in 1997, thousands of Hazaras were massacred by Taliban members in the Mazar-e-Sharif city in August 1998. The slaughter has been credited to a number of factors—ethnic difference, suspicion of Hazara loyalty to Shia Iran, anger at the loss of life suffered in an earlier unsuccessful Taliban takeover of Mazarwas—including takfir by the Taliban of the Hazaras. After the attack, Mullah Niazi, the commander of the attack and the new governor of Mazar, declared from several mosques in the city in separate speeches: Hazaras are not Muslim, they are Shia. They are Kofr [infidels]. The Hazaras killed our force here, and now we must kill Hazaras. If you do not show your loyalty, we will burn your houses, and we will kill you. You either accept to be Muslims or leave Afghanistan.

The Taliban have adopted exactly the same methods of Amir Abdur Rahman, in addition to other methods, and after taking control of Afghanistan, they are safely pursuing the project of suppressing and eliminating the Hazara community in the shadow of the silence of the international community.

1- Massacre and genocide project

In the same short period of four months, when the Taliban government has not yet reached the necessary strength and stability, mass killings and massacres of Shiites are also on the agenda of the Taliban and have been implemented in several provinces, including the following:

A- Ghazni Province 

After taking control of Malistan district of Ghazni province on July 10, 2021, Taliban fighters killed more than 60 civilians, including women and children, dismembered some of them in the worst possible condition, mutilated their bodies and they took the eyes of some alive women out of their sockets. In addition, a number of uninformed Malistani travelers returning to Malistan from Kabul were shot and mutilated by the Taliban on their way to Malistan. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recently reported that during the first six months of 2021, 20 targeted attacks on Hazara / Shiite citizens of Afghanistan were recorded, resulting in the death of 143 civilians. And 357 others have been injured (UNAMA: 2021).

B- Daikundi Province

The second massacre of Shiites by the Taliban after their recent takeover of Afghanistan took place in Daikundi province (where 90% of the population is Hazara Shiites) on August 30, 2021. Musa Amiri, the former deputy police chief of Khedir district, was shot dead by 14 civilians and soldiers after surrendering to a Taliban expedition to the area. A former local commander named Sedaqat (other than Sedaqat, known in Daikundi) had intervened to bring the former Khedir district governor, who had fled the Taliban out of reach and had no opposition to the Taliban, to surrender to the Taliban. The Taliban had promised that if they hand over their weapons, they will continue their normal lives without being harmed. But after they surrendered, all of them, including Sedaqat (the middleman) and a girl, were shot dead by the Taliban.

C-Kunduz Province

On October 8, 2021, Hazaras and Shiites were massacred at the Shiite Grand Mosque in Kunduz. Of the hundreds of worshipers at the mosque, the majority were killed and injured during Friday prayers. Although this tragedy has been attributed to ISIL, and ISIL, due to its nature and strategy of showing its power (which is a characteristic of post-terrorism), sometimes undertakes similar incidents, but based on accurate information from local intelligence, the Haqqani Network’s  by work in collusion with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar created this tragedy.

D- Kandahar Province

On October 15, 2021, a bloody suicide attack on the Shiite Mosque in Kandahar killed more than 50 Shiite worshipers, and injuring more than 100. In this attack, two explosions took place. The first blast took place outside the mosque, and then the assailants stormed the mosque and carried out a second explosion inside the enclosed space where worshipers were present.

2 – Expulsion from the fatherland and forced migration

The forced relocation of Shiites to various provinces and their expulsion from their ancestral homeland also took place four months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and we can mention the following instance:

A- Daikundi and Uruzgan provinces

Shiites and Hazaras in 15 villages in Gizab, Pato and Tagabdar districts of upper and lower Daikundi province were expelled from their homes and areas by the Taliban and told they had no right to anything but their clothes, not even food. Take with you. Based on detailed information from local residents, the 15 villages and the number of families and the approximate area of their lands are as follows:

  1. Kendir: 400 families, approximately 900 acres of land
  2. Maidan Malek: 100 families, 200 acres of land
  3. Shagholja: 150 families, 400 acres of land
  4. Khakak: 160 families, 420 acres of land
  5. Bala Joy: 300 families, 700 acres of land
  6. Rahe Rama: 90 agents 270 acres of land
  7. Chapa Joy (Aminabad): 650 families, 1700 acres of land
  8. Dahan Nala: 380 families, 900 acres of land
  9. Mian Qashu: 100 families, 500 acres of land
  10. Sina Khazak: 150 families, 700 acres of land
  11. Kenti: 70 families, 250 acres
  12. Siah Lash corpse: 90 families, 200 acres of land
  13. Tagabdar: 300 families, 400 acres of land
  14. Warag: 50 families, 300 acres of land
  15. Kata Anar: 30 families, 150 acres of land.

Residents and owners of these areas, on behalf of the Taliban in Khalaj village in cooperation with the Taliban governor in Daikundi province and Gizab district, have claimed ownership of the lands of the people of the mentioned areas. The people of these areas without holding of first instance, relocated by military force and set a nine-day deadline for them to leave their homes.

About 3000 families live in the mentioned areas. “He has been living in this area for 50 years, but now some of them and the Taliban are forcibly threatening us with forced migration,” said a Hazara resident of Gizab district.

The Hazara IDPs are urging Taliban officials in Daikundi to send a qualified delegation to the area to investigate the matter closely and find a logical solution. However, Siddiqullah Abed, the Taliban’s police chief for Daikundi province, said he was unaware of the incident. Also, a number of nomads from neighboring Daikundi provinces have entered some other districts of the province and threatened the locals that your land is ours.

B- Province of Ghazni

The Taliban attack on Malistan district in Ghazni province also displaced thousands of people from their homes, and hundreds of families, mostly women and children, are currently fleeing to neighboring Malistan or Kabul. In the Jeghtoi district of Ghazni province, thousands of people were forced to flee and their homes and land were seized by the Taliban and Pashtuns.

C- Other provinces

The forced migration of Hazaras, which, in addition to local reports, was reflected in interviews and Human Rights Watch reports, took place in six provinces, including Kandahar, Helmand, Ghor and Balkh, in addition to Daikundi, Uruzgan and Ghazni. “Since taking power in August, the Taliban have forced many Hazaras of the five provinces to leave their homes and farms, said Human Rights Watch, which draws its reports based on evidence and conversations with residents. This order is usually accompanied by a deadline of a few days, and the victims have no way to appeal the decision and defend their property rights.

“People are being told that if you disobey the order, you should not complain later about the consequences of this rebellion,” said a former UN analyst who reviewed a number of expulsion orders.

“The Taliban are forcibly displacing Hazaras and others who are different ethnic and have different political views and are opposed to the Taliban,” said Patricia Gusman, Asian director for Human Rights Watch. These forced migrations with threats and without legal procedures are widespread human rights violations and collective punishment.

In addition to the five provinces mentioned above, forced migration of Hazaras has taken place in some areas of Ghor province, and in the city of Herat, after the Taliban took control, some Hazara lands have been forcibly occupied by Pashtuns.

3 – Burnt Land Policy

Over the past month, in the Nahur district of Ghazni province, the Taliban, through Pashtun nomads, have destroyed Hazaras farms and in the past two weeks, set fire to Hazaras and fodder and wheat fields. The armed nomads, who are themselves Taliban and are constantly supported by the Taliban, left their flocks of sheep and camels in the fields of Nahur and Behsud on the fields of the Hazaras and set fire to the harvests and wheat barns of the Hazaras. It is noteworthy that nomadic crimes have always existed against the Hazaras, but these crimes and attacks were usually committed in the spring and summer. This year, after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, in a completely unprecedented way, even in the autumn season, the nomads raided and set fire to the assets of the Hazaras villagers, and this aggressive presence continues in this cold Hazarajat season.

Also, according to residents of Malistan district of Ghazni province, the Taliban set fire to houses and shops in some parts of Malistan (Shirdagh and Sabz Darreh Zardak districts) after looting people’s property.

4 – Imposing tithes and taxes on the Hazaras

Before taking control of Kabul, the Taliban used to take coercion impositions from the people in many provinces and Hazaras over the years, and after taking control of Kabul and other provinces, these impositions have increased and under various pretexts receive tithes from Hazaras by force. These tithes include houses, land and crops, animals, and the rich and poor of the Hazaras. In all Hazarajat areas, from Uruzgan and Daikundi provinces to Bamyan, Maidan Wardak, Ghor and Ghazni, there is a forced collection of tithes from the poor Hazara people who cannot even provide enough food for their families

As conclusion I can say that the knife has reached the bones of the Hazaras, and today Afghanistan has become a real hell for the Hazaras. Despite this catastrophic situation, the Hazaras are unable to confront or even protest against the Taliban, because they do not have the necessary facilities for war and resistance, and they are sure that with any move, massacres will spread, all in the name of insurgency. They will die, otherwise the moment of their life is hell. The Hazaras have no security inside Afghanistan, no freedom of speech or protest, no living facilities and no means of subsistence. They are either killed or massacred, or their homes and land are confiscated, and they are forced to migrate. The way out of Afghanistan is also blocked for them and they cannot reach another country and all the doors abroad are closed to them.

Poverty has in many cases forced families to sell their young children and daughters. Many Hazaras have moved from cities to villages due to poverty and unemployment, except for security reasons. But taking them to villages in the Hazarajat is not the answer, and only a few months of winter may save their lives. With the onset of spring, the rural areas of Hazarajat will also be insecure with the definite invasion of the nomads, and their fields will be trampled by the nomads’ sheep and camels, and there will be no way to save them.

The tragedy of the nomadic invasion to rural Hazarajat areas in the next year is better imaginable when we know that Afghanistan is experiencing a severe drought for the second time in four years. This year, it affected 22 of the country’s 34 provinces, leading to the loss of 40 percent of its crops. The drought will continue next year, and now that it is the last month of autumn, there is no snow or rain. Thus, the agricultural sector, which supplies food to 74% of the country’s population, is naturally facing an unprecedented crisis next year, and the nomadic invasion of Hazaras villages and farms will create a double catastrophe.

Certainly, the Taliban, like in the previous round of their rule, will not be hindered but encourage the nomads to invade the Hazaras, and if there be a conflict between the Hazaras and the Kuchis, the Taliban would support the Kuchis. As winter approaches, the nomads are heading to Pakistan. But the series of rape, release of herds and nomadic camels on the Hazara Shiite field in Hazarajat will intensify in the spring of next year, and if no measures are taken, Hazarajat will become a cemetery. Famine and starvation, and even the massacre and mass exodus of Hazaras from the Hazarajat will inevitably begin.

In the evacuation process, many Pashtuns and Tajiks were relocated to developed countries due to their relationships, but even civil and political activists, judges, university professors, and Hazara women working in the police, army, or government offices. Have been or have been human and civil rights activists, have remained inside Afghanistan. As mentioned, those Hazaras who have fled to Iran and Pakistan are also insecure and cannot live in these two countries easily.