The Hazaras in Afghanistan: Discrimination, Persecution, Genocide

Monday, September 27, 2021 13:00to14:30
Zoom: https://mcgill.zoom.us/j/86902912009

The Faculty of Law and the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism invite you to a very timely talk with Gregory Stanton, Halima Bahman, Stuart Russell, BCL'81, LLB'82, and Derakhshan Qurban-Ali, BCL/JD'21, moderated by Professor Frédéric Mégret.

Time and time again, the world has borne witness to genocide and mass atrocities around the world, from the Holocaust during WWII, to Rwanda, Srebrenica, Cambodia, and Syria. Despite vowing to “Never Again” stand idle while innocent civilians are brutally massacred, we see history repeating itself in Afghanistan today.

Right now, innocent civilians are being brutally massacred, journalists and human rights defenders are being tortured, civil society is under attack, female judges and police officers are being hunted down by the same terrorists they once brought to justice, and the persecuted Hazara community is at risk of genocide at the hands of the Taliban once more.

Hazaras in particular are among the most vulnerable communities in Afghanistan right now and have long been persecuted by the Taliban (and other extremist groups) for their ethnicity and Shi’a faith. When the Taliban took power in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, the Taliban ordered door-to-door executions of over 8,000 Hazaras in systematic ethnic-cleansing campaigns. Chilling reports of targeted killings are emerging following the Taliban takeover and Hazaras around the country fear for their existence once more.

On 19 August 2021, Amnesty International reported that the Taliban were responsible for the brutal massacre and torture of Hazara civilians in Ghazni province, warning: “The cold-blooded brutality of these killings is a reminder of the Taliban’s past record, and a horrifying indicator of what Taliban rule may bring.” The Taliban and ISIS have notoriously bloody histories of persecuting religious minorities, with Hazaras being their primary targets in Afghanistan. Hazara neighbourhoods in Kabul, such as Dasht-e-Barchi, have been targeted with systematic attacks from extremists for years.

Dr. Gregory Stanton, Founding President of Genocide Watch, points out that “since 2015, Islamist terrorist attacks have killed at least 1,200 Hazaras. The attacks deliberately target their hospitals and children. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Recent targeted attacks also include the bombing of a Hazara girls’ school (killing 85 schoolgirls), a Hazara tutoring centre (killing 30) and the massacre of Hazara new-born babies, mothers and nurses in an MSF-run hospital maternity ward.

Stanton has cautioned that the “grave peril of genocide” for Hazaras will be worse than Cambodia if we do not act with urgency, as both the Taliban and IS-KP condemn Hazaras as heretics: “If we abandon Afghanistan, we will forget the horror of Khmer Rouge Cambodia, a nation we also abandoned.”

This event will unpack and explore the history and experiences of the Hazaras in Afghanistan, and analyse the risk of genocide for this persecuted community, in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the country.

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