A film by Rahman Alemi
In cooperation with the World Hazara Council
Basir Ahmad (Hamid) Dowlatabadi was born in a village called Ghare Ghojla in Balkh province in Northern Afghanistan. Like many other Afghans who were born during the same period, his exact date of birth is unknown. However, based on written official documents, it is believed that his birthday is in 1961. According to his own research, his birthday is likely to be in the fall of 1957.
In 1966, Basir enrolled in a local primary school. In fact, before he had gone to school, he had learnt to read the Quran and Divan-e-Hafez, a classical Persian poetry book, by attending a private school and learning from a religious teacher. Although he had no idea what a memoir was, Dowlatabadi had started writing the events that had occurred in school from early childhood. School was very different during Basir’s epoch. Physical punishment was the norm, even if a student made a very small mistake. As a result, Basir was greatly affected by the physical abuse that he and his classmates experienced on a daily basis. These accounts are evident in his childhood memoirs.
Basir became the first person to read and write in his village. In light of this, he was expected to read to the other villagers about the classical traditional stories of Rustam and Sohrab. He also became responsible for writing letters to those soldiers that had left the village for duty. His headmaster, who saw great potential in his abilities, encouraged Basir Ahmad to continue his education and go to Mazar-e-Sharif, a city in North Afghanistan. In 1972, Basir enrolled at Nadershahi secondary school in Mazar-e-Sharif and began seventh grade. He was intrigued by journalism and he subscribed to a local newspaper called Bidar. From a young age, he started reading newspapers like Howaida and Anis, as well as Iranian youth journals. Unfortunately, after the sudden death of his mother, Basir’s father marries another woman, which upset him greatly.
Throughout secondary school, Basir Ahmad wrote many articles for the local newspaper. Due to a lack of journalist programs in his school, he was not able to improve his writing skills. In light of this, Basir and his friends, Mohammad Nabi Orozgani and Heshmatollah, decided to write weekly articles. They would meet every Friday at Zakhira gardens and go through their articles together, whilst exchanging ideas and expressing their opinions.
In 1975, Basir Dowlatabadi received admission to study at the Oil and Gas Technical college of Mazar-e-Sharif. Unlike his primary and secondary school, where he was a top student, Basir’s performance at college was not very good. He had to deal with Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, which did not fascinate him at all. Instead, Basir was more interested in History, Geography and Social Science subjects, which was not taught at his college. Due to many difficulties, Basir was unable to finish college and had to return to his family’s village when he was at grade 12. To earn money and feed his family, Basir started weaving carpets on a daily basis.
In 1979, Basir returned to the Oil and Gas Technical college to complete his national diploma. Since his course focused on mine fields, his practical course took place in the Karkar coal mine in Polekhomri in Baqlan province and Kabul. Soon after, Basir returned to Mazar-e-Sharif to complete 2
his thesis. On his final semester of 14 grade when he was about to defend his thesis, Basir received a message from Abul Ali Mazari to leave the country. Without completing his degree, Basir decided to leave Afghanistan for Iran.
He became a member of the Nasr organisation in 1980, a political party established by a group of Shiite-Hazara aiming to fight against Soviet Union Invasion. In the spring of 1981, Basir met Abdul Ali Mazari, the founder of Nasr and President of Afghan Unity (Wahdat) Party, at Charkent school in Balkh. The meeting and Baba Mazari’s influence changed Basir’s life. As requested by Baba Mazari, Basir accompanied him to Iran.
In Iran, Basir attended an intensive journalism and media course. When Baba Mazari founded the Hablullah journal in 1983, Basir became responsible for the magazine’s publication until 1990 when Nasr and seven other political parties united and established the Afghan Unity Party or Hezbe Wahdat. Since 1990, Dowlatabadi has focused mainly on researching about Afghans and in particular, the contemporary history of Hazaras. In light of this, Basir Dowlatabadi published his first book, A Profile of Afghanistan in 1992. A year later, his second book was published under the title, A Profile of Afghan Political Parties.
In 1993, with a few of his companions, Basir formed the Afghan Writers Cultural Centre. He became the Director and Chief Editor of the centre’s journal called Siraj. Basir also became a member Wahdat Weekly journal’s editorial board and Sirat , as well as writing articles for other Afghan journals published amongst Afghan refugees living in Iran, Germany, and America. In addition, Dowlatabadi supervised Afghan master students studying the history and social-political issues of Afghanistan at the Centre of Islamic World in Iran.
By 2006, most publication companies in Iran were shut down and many Afghan journalists and writers moved back to Kabul. Since Dowlatabadi could not stay in Iran and due to his radical writings, he was not welcome to return to Afghanistan. As a result, he migrated to Canada.
Unfortunately, Dowlatabadi was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and has had many severe operations since. Whilst fighting with cancer, he has published a few books about Baba Mazari and his social and political activities. So far, Dowlatabadi has published 14 books and 11 books are ready for publication. He has written more than 300 articles in various prominent journals around the world.
Dowlatabadi currently resides in Canada with his wife, three sons and one daughter. Despite his suffering and the challenges he has experienced throughout his life, Dowlatabadi’s heart beats day and night for Afghanistan and its people.
Published Books and Articles by Basir Ahmad (Hamid) Dowlatabadi
Dowlatabadi started his journalism activities by writing two very simple and primitive articles called the “National Front father of the nation” and “the State Intelligence Agency’s tricks to deceive people”.
It is important to mention that most of Basir’s articles have been published in Hablullah and the Wahdat Weekly journal. His long articles have been published in Siraj Journal. It is difficult to find all of Dowlatabadi’s works because many have been written with aliases name, due to the political and security reasons. However, we have attempted to provide a general reference for people who are interested to read or find the original source in the future.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1992), “A Profile of Afghanistan”, 1st ed., Erfan Publications.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2003), “A Profile of Afghanistan”, 2nd ed., Erfan Publications.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2007), “A Profile of Afghanistan”, 3rd ed., Erfan Publications.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2007), “A Profile of Afghanistan”, 4th ed., Erfan Publications.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1993), “A Profile of Afghan Political Parties”, 1st ed.
Repetitive editions in Pakistan without writer`s permission
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1996), “A Scheme for Peace and National Reconciliation in Afghanistan”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1998), “From Abdali to Rabbani”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2003), “Hazaras: forced migration and the hidden identity”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2006), “Hazaras: from Massacres to reviving identity”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2013), “Mazari: the most preserving effort in Hazaras history”, 1st ed.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2013), “Mazar-e-Sharif at the absence of Mazari”, Online edition.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2013), “Baba Mazari’s Cultural Services”, Online edition.
Published Books in Collaborations
Dowlatabadi, B.A., Jafari Dare Sofi, S.H., and Rahmani, G.R., (1993), Events in Afghanistan, 1st ed., Hablullah Publications.
This book published under the title of Siraj al-Tawarikh Volume 3, since from the available hand written copy the title of the book was unknown.
Dowlatabadi, B.A. and Javadi, S., (1994), “Afghan Shias: Political Identity”, Afghan Writers Cultural Centre.
Dowlatabadi, B.A. and Danesh, S., (1994), “Abdul Khaliq Hazara: The Martyr”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A. and Danesh, S. (1995), “Baba Mazari. a biography”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A. et al., (1999), “Afghanistan Islamic Coalition Council”.
Books Ready for Publication:
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1986), “From Nanwayi to Kashanak with Mazari”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1993), “Mazari: a detailed biography”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1993), “The Unknown Afghanistan”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1993), “The Afghan Revolution: a profile”, Volume 1.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1993), “Afghan Socio-Cultural Centres”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1993), “The Political Sociology of Afghanistan”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1994), “Imam Hussain: the Afghan mourning tradition”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (1996), “Afghan Scholars: a profile”, Volume 1.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2003), “Public Letters to Mazari,”, Volume 1.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., (2004), “A Scheme for Reconstructing and Reorganising the Afghan Islamic Centres in Iran”.
Dowlatabadi, B.A., “30 years of my Daily Memos”, 30 Volumes.
Ghubar, G.M., (1996), “Afghanistan in the course of history”, edited by Dowlatabadi, B.A., Ehsani Publications.
Farhand, M.S., (1988), “Afghanistan in the Last Five Centuries”, edited by Dowlatabadi, B.A.,
Riyazi, M.Y., “Aynol Waghayah”.
Katib Hazara, F.M., “Siraj al-Tawarikh”, Volume 3.
Articles in Hablullah Journal from 1983 to late 1990s:
Unfortunately, due to the rare availability of Hablullah journals, it is very difficult to list all the articles written by Dowlatabadi.
Some of his most popular articles are listed below:
Last month in Afghanistan – more than 50 articles under this headline were being published on a monthly basis.
Hablullah Special Issue, (1986).
Hablullah and the Public – various volumes.
Hablullah along with fellow pilgrims, (1985) – several volumes.
A daily analysis of Afghanistan and the Muslim World – various volumes.
Editorial articles of Hablullah – various volumes.
Motivation for publishing Hablullah – different volumes.
Biographies of Martyrs – several volumes.
Responses to Hablullah Readers` Letters.
In total, more than 200 articles are written by Dowlatabadi in Hablullah Journal as well as interviews and news reports.
Articles in Siraj Journal
A review on Cultural and Scientific Centres in Afghanistan, (1994). A Review on the Media in Afghanistan, (1994).
Hazarajat in Ancient and Recent Past, (1995) – 4 Volumes.
About Baba Mazari, (1995).
Biography of Ibrahim Khan and the Reasons for his Uprising, (1995).
The structure and composition of the population and concealment of facts in Afghanistan, (1995).
Political Power Developments in Afghanistan, (1996).
How we understand Mazari, the martyr, (1997).
The origins of crisis in Afghanistan and the possibility of reconciliation in the country, (1997).
The Biography of Sayed Ismail Balkhi, (1995).
Untold Stories about Administrative Divisions in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan Shia Groups and their Fragile Coalitions, (1999).
Historiography in Afghanistan and the World, (1999).
The Development and Reconstruction of Afghanistan: Strategies and Challenges, (2000).
Faiz Mohammad Katib Hazara: a committed and thoughtful historian, (2004).
History of the National Assembly of Afghanistan, (2005).
The social and cultural consequences of Afghans immigration to Iran and the rest of the world, (2005).
A History of Afghan Constitutions, (2003).
Articles in Wahdat Weekly
Some of the most popular articles are listed below:
A feast of roses and a trip to Mazar-e-Sharif – several volumes.
Land Reform in Afghanistan and its Consequences.
Colonisation and colonial aims in Afghanistan.
Zahir Shah: from Slogan to Action – several volumes.
Being a part of victory but not defeat: the fall and recapture of Bamiyan during the Taliban regime. Taliban Extremists.
The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.
The 7th and 8th of Sawr, Two Phenomenas but One Consequence. The Political Processes in Afghanistan.
The Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Government and State Offices in Afghanistan.
A brief biography of Mazari.
In total, more than 100 articles have been published in Wahdat Journal.
Around 4 articles in Sirat Journal.
A few articles in Bahs Journal.
A Few articles in Hazarestan Voice Journal ( Germany). A Few articles in Sepida Journal (US).
An article in Ketab-e-mah (Iran Book House, Iran).
A chapter under the title ‘The Untold Stories about Mazari’ In “No one is more alive than you”.
The history of Afghanistan cinema, Simorgh Magazine (Iranian magazine).
In recent years, the weblog “ChakaHaye Sorkh” (http://www.chake-haye-sorkh.blogfa.com/) and the website “Chakbashi”, (www.chakbashi.com) have published some of Dowlatabadi`s articles.