Shia Rights Watch expresses its deepest concern for the lives of the Hazara population in Afghanistan following the recent bombings in Kabul. For far too long have the Hazara people lived with targets on their back while the world turns a blind eye to the violence that plague their lives.
On Saturday, May 8, a bomb detonated outside Kabul’s Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in Dasht-e-Barchi, killing 80 and injuring 147 others. The school was filled with students of the 11th and 12th grade.
The majority of those killed were students between the ages of 13-18.
Dasht-e-Barchi is largely populated by Shia Muslim.
Violence against Hazara Shia Muslims
The targeted nature of the bomb points to motivations based in extremism against Shia Muslims. The Hazara people are a population long identified as members of the Shia Muslim identity.
Hazara have faced very harsh and inhumane treatment throughout history. Once the largest ethnic group in the country, only make up 9 percent of the Afghan population today.
An estimated 60% of their population was exterminated during the 1890’s genocide of Hazaras in Afghanistan. During and after the genocide, Hazaras lands were confiscated and distributed , and tens of thousands of Hazaras men, women, and children were sold as slave. It is also reported that tens of thousands of Hazara captives were sold.
Labeled as ‘heretics.’ extremist groups including but not limited to the Taliban and ISIS, continue to dehumanize the Hazara and justify their brutal killings.
Local and National Responses
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani tweeted his condemnation after the attack, by casting responsibility on the Taliban. He noted the group’s unwillingness to support peace agreements.
No acknowledgement of the Hazara populations endangerment and failure to protect the population have been made by any of the country’s officials.
The Constitution of Afghanistan has several clauses which provide protection to minorities, including the Shia Hazara. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law. The Afghan government is responsible for protection and safety for all of the nations populace regardless of race or creed.
None-the-less, Shia populated areas of the country face the highest rates of violence and are supported with disproportionately less resources aimed at violence prevention.
President Ashraf Ghani along with all other national and local officials in Afghanistan are responsible for every life lost as a result of extremism in the country.
Call for Change
While the Taliban has denied involvement on Twitter through the group’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, sources report an increase in violence across the country following the announcement of withdrawal of NATO and U.S. forces on May 1. Taliban perpetrators have attacked cities and towns they identified as most vulnerable.
And given the vulnerability of Shia populated areas of the country, Shia Rights Watch expresses concern for the future of the Hazara population.
Shia Rights Watch calls on the international community to hold the Afghan government responsible for failing to protect members of the Hazara community.
It’s time for Afghan officials to do more than tweet condemnation to violence against the Shia minority.
It’s time for real change that protects innocent children against violence.