On behalf of the World Hazara Council, I have the honor to speak to you about the security situation in Afghanistan and the plight of my people the Hazaras in that country.
I would like to first sincerely thank the organizers of this auspicious gathering who gave me the pleasure to speak on behalf of my people.
The World Hazara Council (WHC) is an international social, non-political, cultural and non-profit umbrella organization that works for human rights and represents the interests and rights of the Hazara people around the world. Globally more than 40 associations are members of the WHC and we have our representations in many European counties, North America and Australia. The council works for social justice and equality, human rights and democracy for Hazaras. We are working closely with Hazara refugees and asylum seekers who get accepted and help them in the integration in the societies they settle in and try to provide counseling in order to help relieve the suffering, anxiety and depression among those that are pending.
The situation in Afghanistan is more precarious than ever in post-Taliban era. The fall of the Taliban and the presence of international forces, gave hope to the Afghans that a new era has dawned and the war and suffering of the people are finally over. However, the euphoria was short lived because soon the international attention was diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq and those who wanted to keep Afghanistan in turmoil, renewed their interference and gradually the possibility of establishing a free, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan eroded and hopes and aspirations of the people eventually turned to ashes.
The violence coupled with a different form of forced disappearance that is kidnapping of individuals and groups on the basis of their ethnic identity has turned the Hazaras into a most vulnerable people in the country.
The situation of the Hazaras in Afghanistan is unique in the sense that although they are not involved in the war, they are being brutalized by the insurgency on the basis of their ethnicity. We have a forced disappearance of a different form which is kidnapping. This is perhaps worse than the forced disappearance of the individuals because here sometimes people are abducted en masse. For the last 15 years we have endured all kinds of violence against our people but disappearance of the loved ones with no traces has brought a painful legacy to most of the affected families.
The first kidnapping started in 2003 in which a staff of an international NGO was kidnapped, later brutally murdered by the Taliban and to date no prosecution has taken place.
On May 11, 2015, 31 Hazaras were kidnapped in the southern province of Zabul and although their abduction attracted a lot of attention and protests by civil society activists were lodged, no one that we know of was released.
On November 21, 2015, twenty passengers from a bus were kidnapped and later seven non Hazaras were released and the rest are still missing.
One of the most notorious cases was the kidnapping of 9 people in the same province in November 8, 2015. The seven, two of them elderly women, five men and a nine year old girl were brutally killed. Their bodies were dumped on the road. The people were outraged and took the bodies to Kabul and a huge gathering took place that shook the government. The name of girl was Shukria Tabasum after whose name a movement started that is active to date. The government promised to prosecute the perpetrators but so far no arrest has made.
Just a week later 20 more Hazaras were abducted and their fate is not known.
On September 6, 2016, eight Hazaras were kidnapped on the highway between the central province of Maidan Wardak with no information about their whereabouts.
On October 5, 2016, 25 people were kidnapped on the highway between Bamiyan and Kabul
The insurgency be it the Taliban or the ISIS attack Hazara areas and after looting and plundering murder the individuals and take some people hostage. A very tragic and painful case was the attack on a village called Mirzawalang in the northern province of Sar-e-Pul in the first week of August 2017. Terrorists from both Taliban and ISIS attacked the village killed more than 60 people and abducted 150 families. Some of the children and old men were released and 47 girls are still missing. Again the government has done little to secure the release of these people.
During the latest incident about 90 people were abducted on the highway between the central province of Maidan-Wardak and their fate is not yet known.
Hardly a week goes by when one or more of our people are not kidnapped on the roads. Most of these incidences go unnoticed because the people don’t know about them. There is very little presence of media in the provinces and the security forces do not report them because it would create a negative image about their performance. The government itself ignores these incidences and the terrorists and insurgents take advantage of the situation.
We have hundreds of people that are unaccounted for.
During the last few years, the situation has steadily deteriorated and both the insurgency and the countries behind it realized that the time has come to make their move. As a result we have witnessed bold moves on their parts to carry out horrendous attacks in the heart of major cities, including Kabul.
In the coming years, we expect more violence and more bloodshed.
Since we haven’t received any justice from the government, we ask the international community especially the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the human rights violations against our people. We are a peaceful people. We haven’t had even one suicide bomber or been involved in the violence against the government and the international forces. But we have been continuously targeted. Our patience has limits. Our people are pushed to a corner. It can’t go on indefinitely. We fear that if our plight is continuously ignored, things will get out of hand and the international community will have itself to blame.
June 28, 2018