Risk of Atrocities by Taliban Against Hazaras Has Grown, Says Holocaust Memorial Museum

Thursday, 08/11/2022

Hazara community is experiencing increasing and widespread attacks since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Holocaust Memorial Museum said.

The report by the genocide prevention organisation in the United States stated that the risk of mass atrocities has increased for vulnerable groups, including ethnic and religious minorities, under the Taliban regime. Afghanistan currently ranks fourth in the world for risk of a new onset of mass killing of civilians and has ranked among the three highest-risk countries in the Early Warning Project's last five risk assessments.

Noting that the Hazara community has a history of persecution, the organisation stated that there is a necessity for an immediate response by the US government and the international community in this matter. “The attack has been on every part of the social life of the Hazaras, this indicates that there’s a kind of wiping … or destruction of the community in part if it’s not in whole. The attacks on youth and infants … are signaling to the community that [they] do not have a future in this country,” Dr. Farkhondeh Akbari, a human rights advocate and postdoctoral fellow at Monash University, said.

The organisation added that over the past 11 months of the Taliban rule, the Hazara community has faced repeated targeting by at least two distinct perpetrator groups: ISIS-KP and the Taliban. Citing examples, it said that in the first week of August 2022, ISIS-KP claimed responsibility for multiple attacks targeting predominantly Hazara areas of Kabul, reportedly killing and wounding more than 120 people. The Holocaust Memorial Museum added that despite promises to protect the Hazaras from threats, the Taliban have committed targeted attacks and have forcibly displaced thousands of Hazara civilians. “A June 2022 Taliban offensive in Balkhab district against a former Hazara official in the de facto Taliban government has given rise to reports of atrocities and other serious violations of human rights targeting civilians in the region, including summary executions, property destruction, and communication/internet blackouts. Additionally, as of July 2022, more than 25,000 primarily-Hazara people have been forcibly displaced from their homes by the Taliban’s military campaign and currently face intolerable conditions as aid organisations have encountered difficulties in reaching them due to the mountainous landscape,” it said.

In the first months after seizing control, the Taliban killed 13 Hazara men in Daikundi province and forcibly displaced thousands of Hazaras across several provinces, claiming the community had disputed rights to the land “partly to distribute land to their own supporters.”

While several international groups and monitoring bodies have expressed concern about the increasingly dire crisis facing the Hazaras, the abuses have been underreported by global media, the organisation said.

The organisation also suggested some means to help alleviate the situation a little better. It asked for resources to be provided to the special rapporteur for human rights in Afghanistan; it said that atrocities should be documented now to identify perpetrators and risks to vulnerable communities; it called for an independent UN investigative mechanism and to break the cycle of impunity by supporting the International Criminal Court and universal jurisdiction cases.

The Hazaras—an ethnic and religious minority constituting an estimated 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population—have faced discrimination and persecution in Afghanistan for over a century and particularly during the last period of Taliban rule in the 1990s. The Taliban and other Sunni extremists, notably Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-KP), view the Hazaras as a sworn enemy primarily because of their Shi’a faith.

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