Human Rights Institute Highlights Deplorable State of Hazaras Under Taliban Regime In New Report

Representative photo

The latest: In a new report, the San Jose State University Human Rights Institute stated that the Hazara community under the Taliban regime is facing increased threats of arbitrary arrest, disappearance, loss of employment and education, denial of humanitarian aid, and forced displacement.

Go deeper:

  • In its report titled, Human Rights Conditions for Hazaras in Afghanistan Under the Taliban Regime, it has been stated that Hazaras who were members of the military and police of the former Afghan government said that they are doubly at risk because of their ethnicity.
  • Even, Hazara journalists and women’s rights activists expressed that they are being censored and are being watched more than others and face harsher punishments when stopped by Taliban soldiers.
  • Apart from this, the situation of Hazara women and girls is also bad as they are stopped more often by Taliban soldiers and forced to comply with stricter hijab and mahram policies than other women.
  • The community has also been subjected to systematic human rights abuses and targeted in planned attacks on schools, mosques and public streets with ISIS-K taking responsibility for many of the attacks, but Taliban soldiers also engaged in human rights abuses against members of Hazara communities, the report added.
  • In order to formulate the report, the rights institute had interviewed Hazaras, victims, Afghan women’s rights activists, anti-Taliban protesters, Afghan civil rights activists, journalists, Hazara human rights defenders, a World Hazara Council key member, among others.
  • Responsibility for a number of targeted attacks in public places on Hazaras in Kabul and other provinces has been claimed by the terrorist group ISIS Khorasan branch (ISIS-K). But the violence that took place after the rule of the Taliban is not only related to ISIS, the report added.
  • Schools in Hazara communities have been targeted by ISIS-K. Some families have pulled their children out of school because of fears of more attacks. “Since August 2021, many educational, cultural and sports centers have been shut down because of insecurity, poverty and Taliban pressure, the report stressed.
  • Also, insecurity and attack on religious gatherings is one of the serious threats against Hazaras. Before the return of the Taliban, the Ghani government used to distribute weapons and security equipment to the Hazara local people under a temporary process to ensure the security of Muharram events and the people themselves took part in providing security. However, in 2022, the Taliban did not implement this program. Taliban even asked the people not to gather in the streets for the Muharram mourning and to hold their events only in mosques and religious houses.
  • The report emphasized on themes of forced displacement of Hazaras, repression of Hazara women and girls and
  • It has been noted in the report that in recent years there have been increasing conflict between Kuchis and Hazaras over access to land, with periodic clashes between the two groups. While the problem between Kuchis and local residents in Hazara residence areas is not new, Hazara activists say the Taliban regime has empowered the Kuchi tribes and backs them up when they try to take lands that Hazaras are living on.
  • Apart from this, the limited and unbalanced aid distributions in the Hazara living areas increased the level of poverty and hunger among the Hazara communities and a large number of Hazara people have been forced to leave their homeland and immigrate to other countries due to poverty and insecurity.
  • On the issue of Hazara journalists, the report said that after the control of the Taliban, most of the media outlets run by Hazaras were closed and a large number of Hazara journalists, including women, left their jobs. Some who continued their activities have also faced violence by the Taliban and their access to information was limited.
  • Then, the focus shifted on Hazaras who were members of the military, police and security forces for the Afghan republic who are being pursued, killed and tortured by Taliban forces in the report released by the rights institute.
  • Those who belong to the Hazara ethnic group said they faced more dangers and risks because of their ethnicity. The Taliban have gone to greater lengths to identify Hazara military personnel and security employees and arrested them. Some of them have been released after being tortured and paid money but many are still missing and their families have no information about their situation.
  • Even in the government structure, the Taliban doesn’t have any Hazaras in their top leadership and have fired most Hazaras who worked in the civil service under the former Afghan government, the report added.
  • Then, the existing discrimination and prejudice against Hazaras has also limited their access to governmental services. Hazara activists said Taliban guards allowed Pashtuns and their family members to enter the passport office in Kabul but not others, especially Hazaras.
  • The report highlighted that Hazara women’s rights activists faced harsher reactions and consequences while taking part in protests and resisting Taliban policies. Civil activists and Hazara women’s rights activists, professors, teachers, and journalists have been threatened, insulted, and otherwise violated during Taliban rule.
  • On December 20, 2022, the Taliban banned all women from attending universities. However, before the ban, Hazara female university students said they were poisoned and attacked. Among the more than 60 girls who were expelled, only three girls were Tajik and from Badakhshan province. All the rest were Hazara and some were in their final years of university studies.
  • According to the report, even a number of residents of Hazara communities in western Kabul said that Hazaras experience discrimination and prejudice from the Taliban regime including restrictions in movement and the use of public space.

Why it matters? Since the fall of the former Afghan government in August 2021, living conditions for many people in Afghanistan have worsened. Governmental services shut down, the Afghan currency quickly dropped in value, food costs skyrocketed, hundreds of thousands of Afghans fled the country, most international organizations closed their offices, and security deteriorated.

  • These factors have affected many Afghans living across the country but especially Hazara communities, who were also discriminated against and attacked under the previous Taliban regime in the late 1990s.
  • Even under the current regime, the Taliban have no Hazaras in their administration and have fired most Hazaras who worked in the civil service under the former Afghan government. This has caused widespread unemployment and extreme poverty for many Hazara families.

Back story: These widespread violations have led to calls by some Afghan and international human rights advocates to recognize the killing and displacement of Hazaras as a form of genocide. A Twitter campaign called #StopHazaraGenocide was launched on April 21, 2021 and has since been active, having put out over half a million tweets causing the hashtag to trend in Afghanistan.

  • This campaign was launched again in October 2022 after the attack on the Kaj Education Center and was tweeted more than 17 million times. It became a global campaign with protests held in more than 20 countries including the United States, India, Iran, Indonesia, and Germany where people demanded justice for Hazaras in Afghanistan.
  • In the first six months of 2021, UNAMA recorded 20 deliberate attacks against the Hazara ethnic group, resulting in around 500 civilian casualties.
  • In April 2022, a meeting was held with Rina Amiri, the US Government’s Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights, representatives of the Hazara community and a number of families of the victims of the school attack.
  • Another meeting was held with Richard Bennett, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Afghanistan that same month.

Zoom out: Through the report, the Human Rights Institute while stating the deplorable condition of the Hazaras has called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation on targeted attacks and massacres against the Hazaras and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

  • It said that such a job will require on the ground investigations and documentation.
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