Hazaras of Afghanistan has suffered losing of more than a thousand deaths and injured during the National Unity Government (NUG) in last five years. Almost all suicide and orchestrated attacks along with various target killing, beheading and kidnapping have been proclaimed by the Taliban and Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-PK). It surpluses the blatant discrimination of Afghan government and unclear security prospect steaming from rapid reemergence of the Taliban and new anti-Hazaras radical groups such as IS-PK across the country.
As stated frequently by Hazara activists in and outside Afghanistan, immense and increasing human rights violation is not one and only Hazaras’ concern, rather the central question is Hazaras’ survival by and large. This question particularly roused public alarms for the majority of Hazaras after they changed to the main target of around 30 suicide and orchestrated attacks by the Taliban and IS-KP in various public places such as schools, education centers, mosques, stores, and streets during demonstration and religious ceremonies only in past five years. Kidnapping, beheading, road blockage and direct massive attacks by the Taliban and IS-KP were of those horrific incidents which are never bounded to merely the NUG reign period. Although Hazaras encountered persecution and systematic discrimination in their chronicle for more than a century, however their well-founded fear was provoked once the NUG blatantly sidelined them from national economic, education, security and political decision making in various levels. Rerouting of electricity power line, higher education quota proposal and constant negligence of dozen target attacks against Hazaras were of many those examples occurred during the NUG which fascinated national and international medias’ coverage.
Noticeable by Asiatic appearance, cultural and linguistic differences with Afghans, Hazaras have been carrying marks of ethnic cleansing, land confiscation, slavery and persecution since 1891. A recent study by impartial agency has recorded elimination of about 60% of Hazara population which was occurred only in the dawn of 20th century. Practicing Shiite faith of Islam by majority of Hazaras has been an additional motivation for further suppression, coercion and slaughtering. At the below, some horrific incidents, particularly those occurred in recent years are enumerated as following:
1. According to recent reports by the UNAMA, the total of civilian casualties’ record between January of 2009 until September of 2018 are 70398 .
2. The recent Taliban attacks on Jaghori, Malistan and Urozgan Khas left several hundred casualties, and approximately 10000 displaced families .
3. The Taliban and IS-KP have orchestrated at least 30 attacks against Hazaras in public places such as mosques, schools, educational centers, demonstration rallies, almost in all big cities of the country. The majority of incidents are enumerated and cited in details in next sections.
4. Historically and politically deprived, systematically discriminated and culturally distinct, Hazaras are still the victims of target killing, kidnapping, taking hostage and road blockage by the Taliban and other Islamic radical extremist networks.
5. By threatening and intimidating, the Taliban and IS-KP discourage female education, dissemination of human rights and other global values among Hazaras plus compelling to provide financial support (through Islamic tithe).
6. By blocking and banning the routes, the Taliban controls the majority of Hazara people movement and besieges practically all Hazara resident provinces and districts and putting them in acute pressure.
7. Hostage taking, abduction and kidnapping of the Hazaras are highly alerting in recent years. Tens of Hazara people have been kidnapped and killed by such a way in last 5 years. The prime examples are those incidents occurred in Zabul, Ghor and Parwan province where tens of Hazaras were abducted and beheaded .
8. Based on latest published research, around 1500 Hazaras including children, women and men have been killed, mostly beheaded in Zabul province (Kandi Posht area) during the Taliban regime. Other sources consider the actual victims of Kandi Posht higher than of the earlier estimation by counting it around 3000 deaths .
9. Due to security deterioration and recent Taliban’s military progress in Afghanistan, Hazaras are susceptible for getting double-victimized by human traffickers and smugglers.
10. The recent attacks against Hazaras have not been a merely record, rather, they faced far larger ethnic cleansing in their chronicle which occurred in the dawn of the 20th Century. It ended to 50-60% elimination of entire Hazara population in a way to be killed, sold into slavery or forced to leave the country.
2. SECURITY CONTEXT OF AFGHANISTAN
Security condition in Afghanistan has been dramatically exacerbated after 2014 controversial election which ended to establishment of NUG. The immediate repercussion was to putting almost all achievements, particularly human rights, security, education and business in jeopardy.
The widespread insecurity and unprecedented decrease of civilian casualties have been acute concern of Afghanistan’s publics and international human rights organizations in recent years. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the total of civilian casualties’ record from January, 2009 until September, 2018 are 70398 . Following the report, UNAMA has documented 8,050 civilian casualties (2,798 deaths and 5,252 injured) merely in the first nine months of 2018 . Pointing to the main causes of civilian casualties’ rapid increase in recent years, the report stated that:
“The combined use of suicide and non-suicide improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remained the leading cause of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2018, causing nearly half of all civilian casualties. The majority resulted from suicide and complex attacks, which increased both in frequency and in lethality to civilians, driving the overall rise in civilian deaths. Ground engagements were the second leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted and deliberate killings, aerial operations, and explosive remnants of war. Civilians living in the provinces of Nangarhar, Kabul, Helmand, Ghazni, and Faryab were most impacted by the conflict.”
The civilian casualty in Afghanistan is a pressing issue pointed out by the majority of recent published reports. Despite being the first priority, Afghan government and its supporters have constantly neglected the security needs of the Afghan citizens so far. As indicated in various reports, the main reason for the highest record of civilian casualties in recent years are the indifference and negligence of conflict parties to international human rights and humanitarian laws, particularly the Taliban, new emerged IS-Khorasan Province and other active terrorist networks.
By and large then, the security condition across Afghanistan stands to its alerting stage at recent years. Most of the areas are not easily accessible for the human rights monitoring groups to report the actual ground’s reality. Hence, it seems that the true figures of civilian casualties are higher than those of officially published reports. According to numerous assessment, the Taliban controls more Afghan territory than any time during the last 17 years. As a tiny example, during only one week in august, 2018, the Taliban killed 200 Afghan police officers and soldiers, overrunning two major Afghan bases and the city of Ghazni . Weeks later, it followed by Taliban’s massive and unprecedented attacks on Jaghori, Malistan and Urozgan where it led to extensive civilian casualties and thousands of displaced families. Concerning to human rights situation, particularly the rights to life, it is deeply disappointing that Afghan government has either no preemptive measure or functioning governance for service delivery.
After 17 years of the United States (US)& North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) military presence, economic and political support of Afghanistan, the top policy maker in the US now certainly believe that the fight in Afghanistan is at a stalemate . Despite spending vast amount of blood and treasure in war against terror, specifically for dismantling the Taliban and Al-Qaida, the Trump administration began a negotiated settlement with the Taliban which is considered to be totally pointless .
This report intends to reveal target killing, kidnapping, taking hostage, road blockage, orchestrated and suicide attacks against Hazara people in last five years. The report relies on primary and secondary data. The primary data has been provided by journalists and photographers who have actively reported incidents of the Taliban numerous attacks on Hazara resident areas. The secondary information has been collected from available literature and meticulous media monitoring. Likewise, the report has also enjoyed using thematic report, research studies, and published papers of national and international human rights organizations as anecdotal evidence of human rights violation which have been constantly happening against Hazaras.
Incidents of the recent Taliban attacks on Jaghori, Malistan and Urozgan includes IDPs, civilian casualties and physical damages of houses are used as primary information in the report. The rest of incidents and cases of attacks retrieved from a thorough media monitoring. National and international media have recorded different narratives from each incident targeting Hazara people. Hence, this report relied only on those sources which are reliable and widely cited by research organizations. Recognition of civilian casualties of the recent attacks on Hazara districts are entirely upon on journalists and photographers who contributed to data collection of this report.
4. THE EXTENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION AGAINST HAZARAS IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan is the state party of many international human rights conventions and treaties regardless of taking responsibility or fulfilling the subsequent obligations. In spite of enjoying full support of international community, Afghanistan has not accomplished its job for protection and fulfillment of international human rights commitments. Since 2001, International community’s political, economic and logistical support have been uninterruptedly given to Afghan government, its operational institutions and line ministries, so despite such vast supports, they have remained too weak to securing civil and political rights, socio-economic rights and the right to development.
Pertaining to acute security threats, the Taliban accelerated their attacks on non-Pashtun areas; mostly on northern and central parts of Afghanistan in last 3- 4 years. To quicken control of the Hazara resident areas, the Taliban surprised almost all Hazaras in recent months by constantly attacks and expansion of territories both in direct or indirect ways.
Appearance of the IS-KP was the last stage of violence expansion and elimination agenda against Hazaras. The mosques, schools, educational centers, demonstration rallies, public places and almost all major resident areas of Hazara in big cities shifted to be the ultimate target of the IS-KP operations.
The Hazaras whose Asiatic appearance distinguishes them from the rest of Afghans have been historically persecuted in a massive way. Those Hazara who practice Shiite faith of Islam provide further stimulus for suppression, coercion and slaughtering by Afghan monarch and emirs (Who were mostly ethnocentric and religiously extremist figures) over the last one and half century.
The first record of Hazaras’ massive persecution and ethnic cleansing returns back to the dawn of the 20th century when the founder of Afghan state, Amir Abdul Rahman Khan began his campaign of assimilation and integration of a multi-cultural and plural society for building an Afghan ethno-centrist state. According to Sayed Askar Mosavi, and recent book of Jonathan Lee around 50 percent of the whole Hazara population were either slaughtered or forced to leave their lands and resident areas during the war of Amir Abdul Rahman Khan against Hazara . Jonathan L. Lee also states that:
“According to some estimates more than 50 per cent of the male Hazara population died as a direct or Indirect result of the wars. Thousands of women were forcibly married to Pushtuns in a deliberate attempt to destroy Hazara social and religious hierarchies. The Hazara populations of southern Uruzgan, Zawar [Zawoul], Ghazni and Maidan Shah were expelled and their land distributed to Muhammadzais, Ghilzai maldar and government loyalists. ”
A report which is published by Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also describes that around 60% of the entire Hazara population were eliminated in different ways, most often by killing, selling into slavery or forcing into exile by the Emir .
In practice, the Amir’s war against Hazaras disintegrated the entire Hazara society in a way which they lost almost everything thereafter: Their lands, properties, and more than half of their population. Those who survived the war forcibly left Afghanistan towards Persia, Indian subcontinent and central Asian countries. The aftermath of Hazara ethnic cleansing, land confiscation, enslavement and selling, almost all Afghan society were silent and pointing to such historical humanitarian catastrophe was prohibited in Afghanistan official historiography. The trend continued for decades while Hazaras’ enslavement was officially annulled in the third decade of 20th century by Amanullah Khan, but it was too embedded in Afghan politics and society to be obliterated in practice. Despite official annulment of Hazara enslavement, Afghan enmity and harsh pose against Hazaras were never stopped. the Taliban and the Kabul government slaughtered Hazara people in massive scale in 1990s. the below is Mullah Abdul Manan Naizi’s speech, the former Taliban’s Spokesperson & Governor of Balkh at the end of 1990s.
“Hazaras! Where are you escaping? If you jump into the air we will grasp your legs, if you enter the earth we will grasp your ears. Hazaras are not Moslems. You can kill them. It’s not a sin. Oh Hazaras become Moslems and pray God as us. We won’t let you to go away. Every border is in our control. ”
However, after 2001, the Afghan government also failed to perform its task. Despite enjoying global community’s presence and ample support, Afghan government neither provided public services for its citizens as a whole and Hazaras as vulnerable group in particular, nor built its capacities and institutions to function well and provide sufficient security services. Since then, the Taliban and their various fellow extremist, radical and terrorist groups kept active their operations against the Hazaras. Besides the Taliban attacks, other incidents also proclaimed by regional terrorist network like Sepah-E Sahaba , Lashkar-E Jangawi and IS-KP so far.
Historically and politically deprived, systematically discriminated, culturally distinct, Hazaras are still the victims of target killing, kidnapping, hostage, orchestrated attacks and road blockage by the Taliban and other radical groups. The Hazaras are not only the target of the Taliban and other radical groups, but Afghan government also treats them with overt discrimination and negligence. Afghan government’s violent and discriminative acts against Hazara people have performed in different layers, either political, economic or in policy level. Albeit it has been overtly accelerated during the NUG period. The most recent example of such acts is the police shooting on Hazara demonstrators in Kabul which occurred on November 26, 2018. The media reported around 70 injuries and several deaths of demonstrators who protested in order to ask security institutions why the government has arrested an anti-Taliban local commander arbitrarily without considering legal or judicial due process. Although AliPour (the anti-Taliban local commander) was released hours later, however, Afghan government did not clarify neither about his arrest nor his release to the publics.
It followed after a failed attempt of Afghan government to arrest the aforementioned commander in Ghour province which ended to killings of 12 civilians shot by Afghan forces . Afghan government ignored both incidents and their consequent civilian casualties which followed by silence of Afghan human rights organizations.
In recent years, few international media and international human rights organizations have touched on Hazaras’ widespread human rights violations, in top the increasing security concern of Hazaras. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty international have went deeper and addressed Hazaras widespread human rights violations. As instance, Human Rights Watch (HRW) recent report indicates:
“A number of particularly deadly suicide attacks in urban areas, some claimed by ISKP, killed and wounded more than 2,000 people across the country. A growing number of these attacks targeted Afghanistan’s Shia Hazara minority. Civilian casualties caused by government forces during ground fighting declined; however, US forces expanded their use of airstrikes, including drones, in military operations, causing increased civilian casualties .”
The UNAMA quarterly report also pointed to the Hazaras as main victims of civilian casualties and the recent suicide attacks plus Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as main causes. The report indicates:
“The leading cause of civilian deaths and injuries from the armed conflict remained the combined use of suicide and non-suicide IEDs by Anti-Government Elements, reaching record high levels in the first three quarters of 2018, with Anti-Government Elements increasingly directing such attacks against the civilian population, including minority Shi’a Muslims, the majority of whom are ethnic Hazara. ”
The recent cases of suicide, non-IED and massive attacks by the Taliban reminds those Hazaras who faced slathering, rape and mass exodus during 1990s at Kabul. Afghanistan justice project documented observations of eyewitnesses and various victims’ talks of Afshar horrific incident. The report states:
“Witness Sh. stated that after capturing Afshar, Ittehad-i Islami troops forcibly entered her house at 7:00 a.m. They raped four girls in their residential compound, including Sh. her sister, age 14 years, and two others .”
5. TARGET KILLING AND ORCHESTRATED ATTACK
Hazara people endured very hard times since the National Unity Government came to power in 2014. Not only the Taliban increased attacks and focused more on Hazaras’ areas, but the Islamic state IS-KP also began its target and orchestrated attacks on public places, such as schools, mosques, educational centers, religious ceremonies and demonstration rallies. The following are enumeration of the most horrific incidences which occurred during the last two years.
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AIHRC Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission
ALP Afghan Local Police
ANA Afghanistan National Army
ANBP Afghanistan National Border Police
ANP Afghanistan National Police
ANSF Afghanistan National Security Forces
ANDS Afghanistan National Directorate of Security
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
DFAT Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
EU European Union
HRW Human Rights Watch
IDE Improvised Explosive Devices
IDP Internal Displaced Person
ISAF International Security Assistance Force
IS-PK Islamic state- Khorasan Province
MP Member of Parliament
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organizations
NUG National Unity Government
PC Provincial Council
UNAMA United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
UNDP United Nations Development Programmes