What is the Hazara Genocide? How has the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan influenced events?
The world’s eyes was on Afghanistan this summer as the Taliban took back control of the country. The cameras then left and the media looked elsewhere. What no one saw, however, was the dreadful threat faced by the Hazara people at the hands of the Taliban.
Who are the Hazara? Hazaras are one of the many ethnic groups in Afghanistan. The majority of them are followers of Shia Islam in the Sunni majority Afghanistan. However, due to the continued persecution and forced displacement of Hazaras, many of the historically Hazara regions and lands have been depopulated as many have been forced into exile.
Is the threat to Hazaras a new one? No. The period under the Pashtun Amir Abdur Rahman Khan in the 19th century marks the beginning of the Hazara plight. The Amir fiercely subjugated the Hazaras thus marking a dark chapter in the history of Hazaras as the Amir killed and forced into exile more than half of the Hazara population. Many Hazaras were also sold into slavery within Afghanistan and abroad such as British India.
Later, the Hazaras have been subject to violence from both the Taliban and increasingly in recent years by Islamic State of Khorasan Province (IS-K). This sectarian and ethnic oppression has been building since the 1990s, when the Taliban hate speech declared Shias as hypocrites, heretics beyond the true pale of Islam therefore deserving of killing by true believers. Because of this ordinary Hazara men, women and children became victims of terrible atrocities across Afghanistan. For instance, the Taliban executed hundreds of Hazaras at Mazar- e-Sharif in August 1998 and Yakawlang in January 2001.
What has happened since August 2021? Since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021, Hazaras have continued to be targeted despite the promise of security and safety from the Taliban. Hazara residents of Daikundi & Mazari-Sharif and elsewhere have been forced to leave their homes and lands. Thousands are displaced and forced from their ancestral lands. In addition to this, Hazara civil society members have come under particular target. Hazara policewomen have been tortured and beheaded. Hazara journalists have been severely tortured. Kidnapping, arbitrary arrests, house searches continue to take place within Hazara regions.
Many brave Hazara work tirelessly to raise awareness of the plight of their people and we join them in their campaign.
We’d particularly like to thank Shukria Rezaei for her help with this piece.