The Shia Hazara population has long been discriminated against in their homeland of Afghanistan. Indeed, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has noted that the Hazara have endured well over a century of persecution (1), with the matter dating back hundreds of years.
In 1891, approximately 62% of Hazara men, women, and children were slaughtered by Abdul Rahman Khan, who created propaganda ostracizing the Shia Hazara population much in the same way Hitler promoted propaganda about Jewish populations in Europe. The institutional structures and systems of Afghanistan’s government are still rooted in this propaganda, placing the Hazara at a unique disadvantage in Afghan society (2).
In 1993, the Islamic State of Afghanistan under the direction of Burhanuddin Rabbani and the allied Ittihad-i Islami and Shuray-e-Nazar-e Shamal militias massacred over 2,000 Hazara families in Afshar, West Kabul. This was promptly followed by the August 1998 mass murder of over 10,000 individual Shia Hazaras at the hands of the Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif (2). As of October 1998, more then 4,500 individuals from Mazar-e-Sharif remained in Taliban detention, their fates are still unknown (3).
While the Shia Hazara fared better under the regime that took shape after the Taliban were forced from power (2), they remained a priority target for Taliban and ISIS-K attacks during the presence of NATO and American forces (1). Indeed, between 2014 and 2019, over a thousand Shia Hazara were killed by Taliban attacks or through a combination of attacks, kidnapping, and human trafficking. Hazara schools, mosques, public demonstrations, and more were frequently attacked during this period (1).
Between July 4th and 6th, 2021, the Taliban committed another massacre against the Shia Hazara community in Afghanistan after taking control of Ghazni Province. Nine ethnic Hazara men were brutally tortured to death after their village was captured by Taliban forces (4). One man was so riddled with bullets that he had to be buried in pieces; another had his arms and legs broken, his hair pulled out, and was shot in the right leg before finally being bludgeoned to death in the face. Similar massacres took place in Daykundi Province in August of 2021 (7).
Since taking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban have increased their attacks on the Shia Hazara community and have allowed the perpetrators to go unchecked and unpunished (6). Shia Hazara that have been injured in these attacks are denied medical care in hospitals, and all Hazara are denied access to food that is strictly controlled by the Taliban. If the Taliban find them standing in lines or queues, they are taken out of line and viciously beaten.
On June 26, 2022, the Taliban raided the home of a Hazara family in Ghor Province, ostensibly searching for a former security official whom the Taliban had promised to not retaliate against. Four Hazara men were subsequently detained and executed at point-blank range, with one of the victims having been clearly tortured before execution (7). A woman and a 12-year-old girl were also among the Hazara executed in cold blood by the Taliban at the house.
Between June 23 and August 17, 2022, the Taliban committed a series of atrocities against the Shia Hazara population in Balkhab, Sar-e Pol Province. The Taliban tortured and executed civilians, set fire to homes, and bombed Hazara civilian infrastructure (9). Over 150 unarmed Shia Hazara were killed, and approximately 27,000 were turned into internally displaced persons and forced to flee their homes (8).
On September 30, 2022, a suicide bomber struck the Kaaj Academy in west Kabul where hundreds of Shia Hazara children were sitting for a practice university entrance exam (10). At least 35 young Hazara women and girls were killed, and over 80 injured. AWVV has collected evidence to suggest that the Taliban has greatly underreported the number of Shia Hazara children killed and injured in this attack, and further denied those injured medical treatment in an attempt to inflict further fatalities on the Shia Hazara population.
These actions clearly constitute acts of crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute and as acts of genocide as defined by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. AWVV calls upon the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and the greater international community to act immediately to protect the Shia Hazara population of Afghanistan and stop the Hazara genocide.