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Of all the peoples of Afghanistan, the Hazaras are still the most persecuted by the Taliban regime today, so much so that we can read daily about attacks against them; such violence, unfortunately, has a long history that began at the end of the 19th century
The Hazaras and their genocide by the Taliban
Although the Hazaras are one of the main populations of Afghanistan, their exact origins are still not known today, but it is now certain that they date back to the arrival of the Turkish-Mongolian populations in these lands. According to the vast majority of academics, in fact, they are the result of the union of the local populations with the new Turkish arrivals and, above all, the Mongols of Genghis Khan. Although there is no absolute certainty in this regard, it is assumed that this latter component is the one with the greatest specific weight, so much so that some Pashtun groups are still called “Mongols” today. The first official mention dates back to Baburnama of Babur, where they are also connected to Hazaristan, the territory of today’s Afghanistan which they still inhabit today.
According to the historians of Shah Abbas I, ruler of the Safavid dynasty, most of them converted to Shiism in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Their role in the country begins to become central with the entry on the scene of the Durrani dynasty, to which many of them gave support, but it will begin to acquire a catastrophic dimension when the Barakzai dynasty ascended the Afghan throne.
The beginning of the persecution
The new rulers in fact aimed to obtain a capillary control of the whole territory and this was badly linked to the innate freedom and autonomy of this people who digested the thing very badly. With the defeat in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the ruler Abdur Rahman Khan decided to subjugate 3 territories forever: Nurestan, Afghan Turkestan and Hazaristan. This will lead to a relentless confrontation with the Hazara population in a short time losing 60% of their population, with many of them even being enslaved and sold in the market; this massacre will also give life to the Hazara diaspora which unfortunately still lasts today.
Although technically the sovereign Habibullah Khan granted them amnesty, the discrimination continued and became more and more evident, causing a very strong discontent with the royal family and the government in general, so much so that it was the student Abdul Khaliq Hazara who assassinated king Mohammed Nadir Shah in 1933, providing the state with the concern and the pretext to strike again, which will lead to new revolts: one in 1945 and one in 1949. With the entry of the Soviets on the scene and the subsequent founding of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan things did not improve in any way, as the central government was convinced that they had contacts with Iran and for this reason 7,000 were exterminated from 1978 to 1979.
The Taliban and the Hazaras
With the outbreak of the war against the Soviets, the Hazaras proved to be a real thorn in the side of the Moscow army, managing to wrest control of Hazaristan from their hands in the first year and making a decisive contribution to the formation of the Islamic State of Afghanistan. The arrival of the Taliban certified the arrival of a new wave of persecutions which began in 1995, when the latter captured and killed Abdul Ali Mirza. With their final seizure of power in 1996, the Taliban resumed the ancient genocide of Abdur Rahman Khan, initiating a more repressive policy than ever against the Hazaras and their culture. In this regard, it is interesting to note how, according to some scholars, the destruction of Bamiyan’s Buddhas should be understood more as a disfigurement to the Hazara culture, which in Bamiyan sees one of its major centers, rather than as a mere fundamentalist slaughter of a religious nature.
The American victory in Aghanistan marked one of the moments of greatest exploit in Hazara history, so much so that both under the Karzai and Ghani governments there were many ministries and offices entrusted to the Hazara, including that of vice president. With the return of the Taliban in 2021, the situation has returned to being catastrophic, so much so that at least once a week we have news of attacks on these poor people.
The persecution of the Hazara is also present in Afghan literature, so much so that, in Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner”, the protagonist’s best friend is Hazara and for this reason alone he is exploited and abused by the Taliban.
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