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Hullabaloo


Sunday, February 17, 2013

 
The genocide against the Hazara continues with 80 more dead

by David Atkins

Three months ago the New York Times reminded the world of an underreported but ongoing genocide against the Hazara in Pakistan:

For at least a year now, Sunni extremist gunmen have been methodically attacking members of the Hazara community, a Persian-speaking Shiite minority that emigrated here from Afghanistan more than a century ago. The killers strike with chilling abandon, apparently fearless of the law: shop owners are gunned down at their counters, students as they play cricket, pilgrims dragged from buses and executed on the roadside.

The latest victim, a mechanic named Hussain Ali, was killed Wednesday, shot inside his workshop. He joined the list of more than 100 Hazaras who have been killed this year, many in broad daylight. As often as not, the gunmen do not even bother to cover their faces.

The bloodshed is part of a wider surge in sectarian violence across Pakistan in which at least 375 Shiites have died this year — the worst toll since the 1990s, human rights workers say. But as their graveyard fills, Hazaras say the mystery lies not in the identity of their attackers, who are well known, but in a simpler question: why the Pakistani state cannot — or will not — protect them.

“After every killing, there are no arrests,” said Muzaffar Ali Changezi, a retired Hazara engineer. “So if the government is not supporting these killers, it must be at least protecting them. That’s the only way to explain how they operate so openly.”

The Hazara are a mostly Shia ethnic minority of mixed descent with distinctive, East Eurasian features that set them apart. The result of that difference is relentless persecution. There is a saying among the Afghan Pashtuns that "when God created the donkey, the Hazara wept," implying that Hazara are lower than pack animals.


Photo courtesy National Geographic

In an attack of brutal savagery, 80 more Hazara were just slaughtered in another bombing:

The death toll of Kerani Road bombing has reached 80, bringing the number of injured down to 173 as more of the critical victims succumbed to their wounds, Geo News reported.

DIG Wazir Khan Nasir was reported by a foreign news agency as saying that all the dead belonged to Hazara community and the death toll might rise.

A large number of women and children are among the victims of the mega blast that hit Qutta on Saturday.

CCPO Quetta said the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) the terrorists planted in a watertank was armed with around 800-1000 kilograms of high-grade detonable material.
It's not just in Pakistan that Hazara are under persecution. Afghanistan is worse, if that's even possible, as National Geographic reported several years ago:

the Hazaras, residents of an isolated region in Afghanistan's central highlands known as Hazarajat—their heartland, if not entirely by choice. Accounting for up to one-fifth of Afghanistan's population, Hazaras have long been branded outsiders. They are largely Shiite Muslims in an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country. They have a reputation for industriousness yet work the least desirable jobs. Their Asian features—narrow eyes, flat noses, broad cheeks—have set them apart in a de facto lower caste, reminded so often of their inferiority that some accept it as truth.

The ruling Taliban—mostly fundamentalist Sunni, ethnic Pashtuns—saw Hazaras as infidels, animals, other. They didn't look the way Afghans should look and didn't worship the way Muslims should worship. A Taliban saying about Afghanistan's non-Pashtun ethnic groups went: "Tajiks to Tajikistan, Uzbeks to Uzbekistan, and Hazaras to goristan," the graveyard. And in fact, when the Buddhas fell, Taliban forces were besieging Hazarajat, burning down villages to render the region uninhabitable. As autumn began, the people of Hazarajat wondered if they'd survive winter. Then came September 11, a tragedy elsewhere that appeared to deliver salvation to the Hazara people.

Six years after the Taliban fell, scars remain in the highlands of the Hazara homeland, but there is a sense of possibility unthinkable a decade ago. Today the region is one of the safest in Afghanistan, mostly free of the poppy fields that dominate other regions. A new political order reigns in Kabul, seat of President Hamid Karzai's central government. Hazaras have new access to universities, civil service jobs, and other avenues of advancement long denied them. One of the country's vice presidents is Hazara, as is parliament's leading vote getter, and a Hazara woman is the first and only female governor in the country.

In 1998 the Taliban slaughtered 4,000 to 6,000 Hazara. It was only the September 11th attacks that saved them from complete annihilation in Afghanistan. And right now, the Hazara people are freaking out that we're leaving.

There is no question that American foreign policy must be rethought completely, and that interventions and strikes of any kind should be done with international sanction or not at all.

But it's extremely difficult to say with equanimity that the world should just "leave them alone" and abandon them to their fate. Doing so means almost certain humiliation and death for this long-suffering people. There can and must be a middle ground between overbearing exploitative imperialism, and "not my problem" heartless isolationism. The fate of the Hazara depends on finding that middle ground.


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