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Afghanistan: Children and women targeted by deadly blasts as fears of genocide loom

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by Mark Porter in Edinburgh Thursday 28 April 2022

Afghan terrorist groups yesterday murdered five members of the oppressed Hazara tribe as they ratchet up violence on Shiite minorities. They were shot in cold blood in the Dara-e-Suf district.

The perpetrators are said to be from the Takfiri group, who see Islam through a narrow prism of self-righteousness and consider other Muslims, or certain groups of Muslims, as apostate. Anyone who does not agree with their ideology or fails to pledge allegiance to them is regarded as apostate.

At least 16 people were killed in bomb blasts in two Afghan cities earlier this month, attacks claimed by the Islamic State group (IS).

Since Taliban fighters seized control of Afghanistan last year after ousting the US-backed government, the number of bombings has fallen but the jihadist and Sunni IS has continued with attacks, often against Shiite targets.

In early April at least six people were killed in twin blasts that hit a boys’ school in a Shiite neighbourhood of Kabul.

A few days later 12 worshippers were killed in a blast at a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, said Ahmad Zia Zindani, spokesman for the provincial public health department in Balkh.

He added that 58 people were wounded, including 32 in serious condition. Grisly images posted to social media showed victims of the attack at Seh Dokan mosque being transported to hospital.

“Blood and fear are everywhere,” said Faisal, our man in Kabul, adding “people were screaming” while seeking news of their relatives at the hospital.

In the aftermath of the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, violence against the Hazara population has escalated. With a long history of persecution, including by the Taliban, the Hazaras are right to fear a genocide.

While the Taliban and other armed groups are targeting and committing human rights violations against the people of Afghanistan, the Hazara ethnic and religious population is at especially high risk. The international community must pressure the Taliban to guarantee the protection of the rights of the Hazara people, to prevent a genocide against them take taking place.

As one of the largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan, the Hazara people have endured various forms of oppression from Pashtun rulers and governments, including slavery, systematic expulsion from ancestral homes and lands, and massacres. These experiences have led some to consider Hazaras to be one of the “most persecuted people in the world”.

In the late 19th century, Pashtun ruler Abdur Rahman Khan sought to bring the Hazara people in their homeland of Hazarajat under his rule. He waged a brutal war against the community, which resulted in bloody “massacres, looting and pillaging of homes, enslavement” and the transfer of Hazara land to Pashtun tribes. It is estimated that  Hazarajat lost some 60 percent of its population to ethnic cleansing, which has led some scholars to term the carnage a genocide.

There has been longstanding persecution of the Hazara. Since the West pulled out of Afghanistan in August last year Hazara schools and religious sites have been bombed, medical clinics targeted, and Hazara civilians murdered by the Taliban or ISIS-K.

On May 8, 2021, a suicide bombing of a high school killed 85 Hazara civilians, mostly schoolgirls, and wounded more than 240. One year earlier ISIS-K claimed responsibility for an attack on a maternity hospital in the predominantly Hazara Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of Kabul that killed 24 people, including mothers and newborns. Now that the Taliban has retaken control of the country, the Hazara face an even greater risk of attack. 

Our man in Kabul, Faisal, is a Hazari. If you would like to contribute to helping him and his young family escape to Pakistan and then Europe, here is the GoFundMe link. They live in the shadows, dreading that knock on the door that could spell the end. 

 

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