During the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, thousands called for an end to systematic discrimination against the Hazara people in AfghanistanMore than 3000 members of the Hazara diaspora community gathered in the Belgium capital on Tuesday 4th October for the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, calling for an end to systematic discrimination against the Hazara people in Afghanistan.
The demonstrators held posters and banners thanking the European Union and the taxpayers for their on-going support for the people of Afghanistan.
The peaceful demonstration had attracted people from the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, who demanded that the 75 countries and 26 international organisations and agencies attending the conference to urge the Afghan government to stop racial discrimination towards its citizens and provide balanced development for all ethnic groups across the country.
The National Unity Government of Afghanistan’s position on a 500kV power transmission line from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan has resulted in mass demonstrations worldwide. Despite the recommendation of national and international experts for the transmission line to pass through Bamiyan-Wardak, the government has overruled this decision and rerouted the electricity line through the mountainous Salang region.
“With such actions, the government of Afghanistan are depriving the central regions of Afghanistan from electricity and further development”, said a demonstrator who had travelled from Australia to participate at the demonstration.
This decision has led to unprecedented waves of discontent and demonstrations in/out of Afghanistan. The first demonstration in Kabul on 16 May 2016 was one of the biggest civic protests in recent Afghan history. Unfortunately, the second peaceful Kabul demonstration on 23 July became very tragic because two suicide bombers targeted Hazara citizens, killed at least 85 people and injured hundreds.
Despite the discontent on rerouting the electricity gridline, many protestors believed the issue is deeper and requires more analysis.
“As an ethnic group, we have been targeted, massacred and treated as second class citizens for centuries. Things have improved since the 19th century but we live in the 21st century. We demand equality and a balanced distribution of international aid and national developmental projects across the country for all ethnic groups”, said Bilal Nawrozi, one of the organisers of this demonstration.
The demonstrators, most of them EU citizens, urge the international community to Establish specific human rights and anti-discrimination benchmarks for Afghan government institutions as a precondition to receiving financial and technical support and development assistance, including diversity and transparency criteria in employment and distribution of services.
The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, which was co-hosted by the European Union and the government of Afghanistan, ensured continued international political and financial support for Afghanistan in the next four years. The international community portrayed their commitment to peace and reconciliation in the country by giving US15.2 billion in aid, of which US5.6 billion was committed by the EU and its member states.