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Afghanistan: Intensifying Persecution of Shi’ite Muslim Hazaras

There are around six million Hazaras in Afghanistan, constituting about 14.6% of the population.

“Afghanistan: Intensifying Persecution Of Hazaras – Analysis,” by Sanchita Bhattacharya, Eurasia Review, June 18, 2024:

As reported on June 11, the Taliban instructed the Hazara residents of Nowabad, located in the 6th Security District of Ghazni city, the provincial capital of Ghazni, to submit their land ownership documents to the group. The Taliban issued eviction orders, claiming the area had been “usurped” by the residents.

On March 6, 2023, the Taliban forced the Hazara residents of Pusht-e Asmidan village in Al Badr District, Sar-e Pul Province, to leave their homes and evacuate the village. They also imposed a fine of AFN 36 million on the residents of this village, as most of them are from the Hazara community.

Taliban established a “Commission for Prevention of Usurpation and Recovery of Government Lands” in 2023. This Commission, in various provinces, registers government lands under the name of “Emirate Lands”. Earlier, in October 2021, the Taliban forcibly expelled hundreds of Hazara families from provinces of Helmand, Balkh, Daikundi, Uruzgan, and Kandahar.

In addition to forced evictions, Hazaras have been targets of violent attacks. According to partial data collated by Institute for Conflict Management, at least 113 Hazaras have been killed and 25 injured, in 11 incidents since August 15, 2021 (data till June 16, 2024).

Some of the recent incidents include:

On April 29, 2024, a gunman stormed the Shia-Hazara Imam Zaman Mosque in the Guzara District of Herat Province and opened fire on worshippers killing six, including a child.

On April 21, 2024, IS-KP claimed responsibility for a magnetic IED attack targeting a bus carrying mostly Hazara civilians near a security checkpoint in Kabul, killing one and injuring 10.

On January 11, 2024, two people were killed and 12 wounded in a grenade explosion outside a commercial center in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, a Hazara enclave in Kabul city.

On 6 January, 2024, a minibus with civilians was attacked by the IS-KP in the Dasht-e-Barchi areas of Kabul, killing five people and injuring 15.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report, Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan, released on January 22, 2024, targeted attacks against Hazaras persist in various parts of Afghanistan. In the months of October and November 2023, at least 5 separate attacks against Hazaras were planned and carried out. UNAMA’s Annual Report, 2023, however, is silent on the wider persecution of Hazaras in Afghanistan.

In addition to physical violence leading to death and severe injuries, Hazaras are also subjected to multiple forms of discrimination and restrictions, affecting a broad-spectrum of human rights.

According to the Freedom House’s Country Report on Afghanistan, dated June 5, 2024: “The emirate authorities imposed multiple restrictions on the 2023 commemoration of the month of mourning, Muharram. Mourners were told to avoid public displays of religious symbols and rituals, and mourning ceremonies were only to be held in select places of worship designated by the Taliban. Shias widely defied these restrictions, resulting in clashes with the authorities.”

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