'We are being abused and massacred every day': Fears of genocide loom for Afghan Hazaras if the world fails to act

Hazara pain grows more acute with each passing day
5 min read
17 May, 2022
More than a century of prejudice and killings have peppered the history of the Hazara in Afghanistan. Amid fears of ethnic cleansing, the UK Parliament launched a Hazara inquiry last month as the international community is urged to act now.

Hazara children are being mown down in their scores while the eyes of the world are elsewhere, claims a British politician whose assertion that the global community has forgotten Afghanistan are born out by victims on the ground.

Calling out British government inaction over Hazara suffering in Afghanistan, human rights campaigner and member of the UK House of Lords, Sir David Alton's protests are backed up by distraught people from the Hazara ethnic group who have contacted The New Arab following a series of recent blasts in the country, bewailing international media's derisory reporting of the attacks.

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Furious that the world's media has swallowed the Taliban's downplayed version of the events by recording a mere six deaths from the bombing of a boy's school in Kabul, Morsal, whose student career has been cut short by the Taliban's takeover of her homeland, begged the international media to take the assault on her people seriously.

"Yesterday was a very bad day for us," she said, referring to the three explosions that rocked her home and neighbourhood deliberately targeting Hazara school students. "The Taliban did not allow the local media to report, and beat journalists who tried to find out what had happened," she said.

"Foreign media did not report as they should, officially reporting deaths at six, whereas 126 were killed, all of them were students."

"This is not the first attack and it will not be the last... Hazaras have been beheaded, taken hostage, blown up and picked off at weddings, funerals, football matches, in their libraries and at their desks"

Etilaat Roz one of the few independent media channels left in Afghanistan, and often critical of the Taliban, in its coverage of the attacks, featured the picture of a container truck sent to pick up the dead and wounded, and quoted Mohammad Mohaqiq, the leader of the People's Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan, as saying that 126 people had been killed in the blasts, including boys and girls, and that 73 had been injured.

Its report detailing the aftermath of the explosions described the Taliban violently preventing families from giving blood and dispersing protests by relatives with live ammunition.

While Afghanistan's tragedies have been eclipsed from the world stage by Ukraine, the daily nightmare for those on the ground continues unabated.

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Killings, bombings and house to house searches persist with mounting concern for the Hazara, the butt of much of the violence.

As a Hazara, Morsal fears for the future of her people. "We are being abused and massacred every day," she said, fearing that her own life could be cut short at any moment simply because of her ethnicity.

"This is not the first attack and it will not be the last," she said, citing a catalogue of atrocities against Hazara across the country targeting educational centres, girls and boys schools, maternity hospitals, and Shia mosques. They have been beheaded, taken hostage, blown up and picked off at weddings, funerals, football matches, in their libraries and their desks.

"We leave home every day and say goodbye as if we will not see each other again. It has been like this for some time now"

More than a century of prejudice and killings have peppered the history of the Hazara in Afghanistan. A particular low point was the 1998 massacre of 8,000 in Mazar-I-Sharif by the Taliban, since which time Hazara have been singled out for discrimination and violent attacks.

Between February 2015-March 2021 when an Islamic State affiliate declared war on the ethnic group, 1,167 have been killed and 1,884 wounded, with an intensification of violence since the Taliban takeover last year.

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The international community has spoken up from time to time but world inaction is palpable, considers Lord Alton. Handwringing must turn to concrete measures to stop the destruction of innocent people, he said, urging the world to act "without delay," to gather evidence to present to the International Criminal Court.

Following warnings from Amnesty International, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Genocide Watch, noting the deteriorating situation of the Hazara community and highlighting the risk of a possible genocide, a UK Parliamentary inquiry was launched in April 2022.

Survivor testimonies, expert reports, and observations of NGOs will paint a picture over the next few months of the Hazara situation to formulate a plan of action for the UK and the international community.

Deep probes into crimes perpetrated against the group, particularly where they constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide, will gather evidence to launch prosecutions at the International Criminal Court wherever possible.

"How much longer must we Hazara, simply by virtue of our birth, continue to be victims of hatred and wanton cruelty?"

Thankful that most recent bombings passed him by this time, the Hazara headmaster of another school speaking to The New Arab was worried about the future. "We leave home every day and say goodbye as if we will not see each other again. It has been like this for some time now," he said.

"The situation for Hazara and Shias in Afghanistan is not good. I am really worried about myself and my family."

Morsal continues, "How much longer must we Hazara, simply by virtue of our birth, continue to be victims of hatred and wanton cruelty? How much longer will our fathers lose sons, our wives their husbands, and children, their mothers?

"I beg the international media to report the truth of what is happening to us and to find evidence to convict the murderers of my people."

The author is writing under a pseudonym to protect her identity