Members of these Shia minority have been victims of a genocide for more than one century.
by Massimo Introvigne
“Stop Hazara Genocide.” From San Diego to Vancouver to London to Sydney, thousands protested last week after bloody attacks killed Hazara men, women, and children in Afghanistan. In May, nearly 100 Hazaras, most of them young girls, were killed in an attack against the Syed Al Shahada school in Kabul. More than 20 Hazaras have been killed this year in Pakistan.
Who are the Hazaras? They are a population of Turkic origin, but speaking a Persian dialect, which settled in Afghanistan between the 16th and the 17th century and embraced Shia Islam. In 1893, Afghan king Abdur Rahman Kang decided to wipe out the Hazaras, both because they were “heretics” from his point of view as a strict Sunni ruler, and they fought for the self-government of their region. At least 100,000 Hazaras, or 60% of the entire Hazara population of Afghanistan, were killed, and more than 10,000 were sold as slaves. Most historians recognize the 1893 events as a genocide.
The Hazaras also want “genocide” to be used as a designation of their persecution in Afghanistan during the Taliban era, which continue to this day, with hundreds if not thousands mercilessly killed.
Because of the repression in Afghanistan, since the late 19th century thousands of Hazaras escaped to British India. Pakistan is now home to one million of Hazaras. Four million still live in Afghanistan.
With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, between 1,000 and 2,000 Hazaras (estimates diverge) have been killed in Pakistan in the 21st century, as part of a larger campaign against Shia Muslims, regarded as heretics by the Sunni majority.
BBC and The Guardian reports depicting the tragic situation of the Hazaras in Pakistan have met with protests from the Pakistani government, However, Hazaras in Pakistan and the diaspora claim that little is done to protect them from bloody attacks.