By Zareen Taj: Human’s Rights/ Women’s Rights Activist
Words fall short for expressing my pain and my sorrow. My heartfelt condolences go out to the families who lost their loved ones during the demonstration in Kabul on July 23rd 2016. The horrified mass killing of Hazara people shocked my soul. I was sickened by some Afghan local media round tables and news coverage. I felt so angry to see the ridiculous and inhuman responses of some sick people about the horrified killing. I was in so much rage to see how these stunning, horrific, and graphic killings were largely ignored by Afghan politicians and leaders. It means that the loss of lives and the loss of intellectual people who are the treasure of our country has no meaning and place in their hearts. They do not care for the country and their people. They care only for the existence of their power at the cost of innocent lives.
It was the deadliest targeted mass killing in the history of Afghanistan. Eighty four young people were killed and more than 250 people were injured. All media coverage of the bloody scenes and horrified mass killing shocked the world, but the stone hearts of the Afghan government leaders and politicians were numb to feel any pain. Their eyes did not see anything and their ears could not hear the screams of this tragic loss. I am struggling with what to say and how to express my feelings. As a mother, I feel the pain of those mothers who lost their children. I just want to say you are not alone in your grief, we are with you. Our world is shattered too, and we weep with you. Words cannot describe the pain and sorrow that the Hazara diaspora feels around the world. I had a hard time to look at the pictures of those young people who are now gone from our lives. I just look on their pictures and my tears pour out as I scream out loud that it is not fair! They were too young and full of dreams to have their lives cut so tragically short.
No one can heal the wounded hearts of those families who lost their loved ones. We will never recover what we have lost. It is a big loss for the families and it is a bigger loss for our community. We did not just lose human beings, we lost our intellectual, activists and brave young people who came out to end injustice and the systematic discrimination at the cost of their lives. They were extraordinary and highly educated human beings who were tired of injustice and wanted to end the long political culture of discrimination.
They are heroes. They wanted to give a chance of better lives for the future generations in Afghanistan. They wanted that the dark history would not be repeated. They were tired of the country being locked in the past, they were fighting against that rigid system. They were tired of injustice, and they refused to be silent. As Martin Luther King said “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. It is true that they could not remain silent in the face of injustice. They were the voices of endurable suffering. They were the first generation who introduced the culture of peaceful demonstration as a tool to build a stronger civil rights movement for Afghan society. They made history in a country where violence and brutality has been the answer to everything.
They were messengers of peace, justice and harmony for all of Afghan society. They were the reflectors of a community awakening in the face of disparities and discrimination. They were a new generation who had sparked new leadership and a new movement to awaken the nation toward a better direction. They were the starters of a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan. A chapter of peace, justice and equality for all beyond the ethnic lines. They stood and advocated peacefully and positively but they were killed in a horrific way because they had no protection. Nobody cared about their precious lives. You all will be missed and you will be remembered as heroes.
It is a difficult time for all Hazara diaspora. It is very painful and personal for me to sit front of my computer and write again about the mass killings of Hazaras. I was first Hazara woman who recorded and documented the five massacres of Hazara by the Taliban. Still we are the target of mass killings, but we are a strong and resilient ethnic. It is not the first time we have seen the evil, as it is repeated with targeted killings. I would like to remind all how resilient an ethnic we are. Abdurrahman wiped out 62% of the Hazara population in Afghanistan and the Taliban massacred Hazaras in a brutal way. We have not just survived from the annihilation and genocide of the Taliban, we have thrived!
During these 15 years of post-Taliban time, the Hazara ethnic has made great improvement and progress despite the constant struggle against the extremist and systematic political discrimination. As Nelson Mandela said “the greatest glory in living lies in not never falling, but in rising every time we fall”. The Hazara ethnic has proved that even though they have seen many evils and fallen many times in the history of Afghanistan, they keep rising and thriving in the face of mass killings and daunting circumstances.
We lost everything during the Taliban darkness era because we were the target of genocidal killing by the Taliban. After visiting the five Hazara massacre sites of the Taliban and interviewing the survivors and seeing the destruction, as a researcher and an author, I felt that this will take a long time for our community to get back to a normal way of life, but I was wrong. They did not just rebuild their community back to normal, they became even stronger than they were. That is a clear message to everyone that no political power can erase, and that they dare not underestimate and ignore us anymore.
The mass protest in Kabul was organized by the Enlightening movement to demand the re-routing of the TUTAP project. They held peaceful demonstrations against changing the route of a multimillion electrical transmission line that was initially planned to pass through Bamyan and other central parts of Afghanistan, that are one of the most deprived areas of the country. Elements within the Afghan government influenced the decision and changed the route from Bamyan to Salang instead. The new Afghan proposed route from Salang was a discriminatory move and politically motivated decision against the Hazara ethnic group.
It is time for all Afghans to come together to stand for peace, solidarity and the end of discrimination. Let’s stand together and prevent politicians from dividing us. We must reject hatred and violence. Our unity and solidarity will give us a better tomorrow. With unity we can change the face of this country for future generations. We should not let ignorance and hatred dominate country. This time is a critical time, we need to unite across ethnic and religious boundaries with all the families of the victims to say no to the systematic discrimination and demand justice for our fallen Heroes.