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The Hazara Genocide and Ethnic Apartheid: The Ongoing Plight in Hazaristan

Kabul Press AI
Sunday 1 October 2023

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The return of the Pashtun Taliban to power has brought to the forefront a disturbing and deeply entrenched issue: ethnic apartheid. In this article, we delve into the alarming situation faced by the Hazara community, who have been systematically denied their fundamental human rights, facing crimes such as genocide, forced displacement, and discrimination at the hands of the Pashtun Taliban in Hazaristan, their historical homeland.

Historical Context

To fully comprehend the dire situation faced by the Hazara community in Hazaristan today, it is crucial to delve deeper into their historical context. The Hazaras, with their distinct cultural and physical characteristics, have been a distinct ethnic group in so-called Afghanistan for centuries. However, they have often been subjected to persecution and marginalization, and the roots of their suffering can be traced back to the 19th century.
During the late 19th century, the Hazara people experienced a brutal and tragic period in their history. Under the reign of Abdur Rahman Barakzai, a Pashtun ruler who sought to consolidate power, the Hazaras were subjected to a campaign of extreme violence. Estimates suggest that over 63% of the Hazara population fell victim to this ruthless campaign, resulting in mass killings, slavery, forced labor, and dispossession of their lands.

Genocide and Dispossession

Abdur Rahman Barakzai ‘s policies towards the Hazaras were nothing short of genocidal. Entire Hazara communities were targeted, and countless lives were lost. The motivation behind this brutality was twofold: to suppress any resistance to his rule and to change the demographic makeup of the region by reducing the Hazara population.

In addition to the genocidal campaign, Abdur Rahman Barakzai also initiated the confiscation of Hazara lands on a massive scale. Hazara-owned territories were seized and distributed among Pashtun tribes to further weaken Hazara influence and consolidate Pashtun control in these areas.

The ramifications of these historical injustices continue to reverberate in Hazaristan today. The scars left by the mass killings, forced labor, and land seizures are still felt by the Hazara community, who continue to grapple with the consequences of this tragic chapter in their history.

The Legacy of Ethnic Apartheid

The historical context outlined above underscores the enduring nature of the ethnic apartheid faced by the Hazara people in Hazaristan (so-called Afghanistan). The systemic discrimination, violence, and land confiscation they experienced during the late 19th century laid the foundation for their current plight under the Pashtun Taliban. It is a history marred by injustice and brutality, which has perpetuated ethnic divisions and left the Hazara community particularly vulnerable to ongoing atrocities.

The international community’s recognition of this historical context is essential in understanding the urgency of the situation and the need for a robust response to address the systematic crimes being committed against the Hazara people in Hazaristan today. The legacy of past injustices cannot be allowed to determine the future of a people who deserve to live in peace, free from persecution, and with access to their fundamental human rights.

Hazaristan map before the appearance of Afghanistan

Genocide and Systematic Crimes

The genocide and systematic crimes committed against the Hazara people of Hazaristan are deeply disturbing, not only in their brutality but also in their blatant violation of international conventions and norms. The term "genocide" was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944 and was subsequently defined and codified in the 1948 Genocide Convention, which sought to prevent and punish acts of genocide worldwide. Genocide, as defined in the convention, includes acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

In the case of the Hazara community, the actions of the Pashtun Taliban undeniably fall within the parameters of genocide. They have deliberately targeted Hazaras for their ethnicity, religious beliefs, and cultural distinctiveness. Mass killings, abductions, and forced conversions have been used as tools to decimate the Hazara population, with the intent to eliminate or weaken this ethnic group.

Cultural Genocide: The Buddhas of Bamiyan

Beyond physical violence, the Pashtun Taliban’s actions have extended to cultural genocide. A glaring example of this is the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which were UNESCO World Heritage Sites and revered symbols of the rich cultural heritage of Hazaristan. In 2001, the Taliban, acting under their extreme interpretation of Islamic law, systematically dynamited and destroyed these historic statues, reducing them to rubble.

This act of cultural destruction was not merely an attack on statues; it was an assault on the very identity and history of the Hazara people. It erased a tangible link to their cultural and religious heritage and served as a symbol of the Taliban’s relentless campaign to obliterate the Hazara identity from Hazaristan.

The destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan was widely condemned by the international community and was recognized as an affront to cultural heritage preservation. It exemplified the extent to which the Hazara community’s rich cultural legacy was being targeted and erased by the Pashtun Taliban.

The Genocide Convention and International Obligations

The 1948 Genocide Convention, to which so-called Afghanistan is a signatory, clearly states that genocide is a crime under international law, and those responsible for committing or inciting genocide should be held accountable. The international community has a moral and legal obligation to respond to acts of genocide and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

In the case of the Hazara community, it is imperative that the international community invokes the Genocide Convention and takes concrete measures to prevent further acts of genocide and systematic crimes. Sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and international tribunals must be considered to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The genocide and systematic crimes perpetrated against the Hazara community of Hazaristan are an affront to humanity, a violation of international law, and a stain on the conscience of the world. The destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan serves as a stark reminder of the cultural genocide inflicted upon the Hazaras. It is incumbent upon the international community to stand in solidarity with the Hazara people, to invoke the Genocide Convention, and to work tirelessly to put an end to these atrocities. Failure to act now would be a betrayal of the principles of justice, cultural preservation, and human dignity that are fundamental to our shared humanity.

Forced Displacement

The issue of forced displacement is a central component of the ethnic apartheid that the Hazara community in Hazaristan has been enduring at the hands of the Pashtun Taliban. Forced displacement, often accompanied by violence and intimidation, has been systematically used as a tool to uproot Hazara families from their ancestral lands and communities. This cruel practice serves multiple purposes for the Taliban, including changing the demographic makeup of Hazaristan, erasing Hazara influence, and consolidating Pashtun dominance.

1. Intimidation and Violence: The forced displacement of Hazara communities often involves acts of intimidation and violence. Hazara families are subjected to threats, physical harm, and even deadly attacks to compel them to leave their homes. This climate of fear forces Hazara families to abandon their properties and livelihoods, creating a sense of insecurity that lingers long after their displacement.

2. Demographic Shift: The Taliban’s strategy of forced displacement aims to change the demographic composition of Hazaristan by pushing Hazara communities out and settling Pashtuns in their place. This not only diminishes the presence of Hazaras but also ensures that Pashtuns have a dominant presence in areas traditionally inhabited by Hazara populations.

3. Land Confiscation: Forced displacement often goes hand in hand with land confiscation. Hazara-owned lands are seized without compensation and redistributed to Pashtun settlers. This tactic not only displaces Hazara families but also marginalizes them economically, depriving them of their primary source of sustenance and further exacerbating their vulnerability.

4. Humanitarian Crisis: Forced displacement results in a humanitarian crisis for Hazara families who are abruptly uprooted from their homes. They often face dire living conditions, including inadequate shelter, limited access to food and clean water, and inadequate healthcare. This further compounds the suffering of the already marginalized Hazara community.

5. Disruption of Social Fabric: Forced displacement disrupts the social fabric of Hazara communities. Families are torn apart, and communities are fragmented, as individuals and families are forced to flee in search of safety. This loss of social cohesion can have long-lasting psychological and social consequences for the displaced Hazara population.

The international community must acknowledge the gravity of forced displacement and its role in perpetuating the ethnic apartheid against the Hazara community. It is essential to address the root causes of forced displacement, including the systemic discrimination and violence perpetrated by the Pashtun Taliban. Humanitarian organizations and governments must provide support to internally displaced Hazara families, ensuring access to shelter, food, healthcare, and education.
Efforts should also be made to facilitate the safe return of displaced Hazara families to their homes, with guarantees of security and protection. The international community, in collaboration with Hazara communities, must work towards a just and lasting solution that respects the rights and dignity of the Hazara people and upholds the principles of justice and human rights for all.

Land Confiscation

Land confiscation is a critical aspect of the ethnic apartheid faced by the Hazara community in Hazaristan at the hands of the Pashtun Taliban. This policy, which has deep historical roots, has been systematically employed to undermine the Hazara community’s economic and social standing, reinforce Pashtun dominance, and perpetuate their marginalization.

1. Economic Disempowerment: Land confiscation has severe economic consequences for Hazara families. Their livelihoods, often dependent on agriculture and land ownership, are upended when their lands are forcibly seized. This economic disempowerment makes it challenging for Hazaras to support their families, access education, and improve their socioeconomic status.

2. Marginalization: The confiscation of Hazara-owned lands is a deliberate strategy to marginalize the Hazara community further. By redistributing these lands to Pashtun settlers, the Taliban reinforces the dominance of Pashtuns in Hazaristan and disempowers the Hazara population, depriving them of valuable resources and assets.

3. Impacts on Livelihoods: Land confiscation disrupts not only the economic livelihoods of Hazara families but also their traditional way of life. Many Hazara communities have relied on agriculture for generations, and the loss of their lands disrupts these traditional practices and leaves them without a stable source of income.

4. Historical Context: Land confiscation has historical precedents that date back to the late 19th century when the Pashtun ruler Abdur Rahman Barakzai initiated mass land seizures from the Hazara community. This historical injustice, which resulted in the dispossession of Hazara lands, laid the groundwork for contemporary land confiscation by the Taliban.

5. Legal Implications: Land confiscation violates fundamental principles of property rights and is a direct breach of international human rights norms. It contravenes the right to property as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Discrimination and Access to Rights

Discrimination against the Hazara community in Hazaristan is a pervasive and deeply entrenched problem, with far-reaching implications for their access to fundamental human rights. The Pashtun Taliban’s systematic discrimination against Hazaras, often driven by ethnic and religious bias, has resulted in the denial of basic rights and opportunities for this marginalized community.

1. Education: Discrimination against Hazaras in education is a stark reality. Hazara children often face barriers to accessing quality education, including limited school infrastructure, lack of trained teachers, and discrimination from educational authorities. This educational disadvantage perpetuates a cycle of poverty and marginalization.

2. Employment: Hazaras are frequently excluded from employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors. Discrimination in the workplace denies Hazara individuals access to decent employment, wage disparities, and opportunities for career advancement, leaving them economically disadvantaged.

3. Political Representation: Hazaras are often excluded from political representation, both at the national and local levels. The lack of political power leaves them without a voice in decision-making processes that affect their lives and communities.

4. Cultural and Religious Discrimination: Hazaras often experience discrimination based on their distinct cultural and religious identity, as most Hazaras belong to the Shiite Muslim minority in so-called Afghanistan. This religious difference has made them targets of violence and prejudice.

5. Freedom of Movement: Discrimination against Hazaras can manifest in restrictions on their freedom of movement. They may face harassment or denial of travel permits, which limits their ability to seek opportunities and access essential services.

6. Access to Healthcare: Discrimination can also affect access to healthcare. Hazara communities may receive limited healthcare services, resulting in disparities in health outcomes.

7. Land Ownership: Discrimination can also impact land ownership rights, with Hazaras facing obstacles in acquiring or retaining land, further exacerbating their economic vulnerabilities.

International Response and the Way Forward

The international community has a critical role to play in addressing the ethnic apartheid and human rights abuses faced by the Hazara community in Hazaristan (so-called Afghanistan). The situation calls for immediate action, and the recognition of the Hazara genocide is an essential step toward acknowledging the gravity of the crisis and ensuring justice for the victims.

1. Recognition of Hazara Genocide: The international community should formally recognize the Hazara genocide, acknowledging the systematic crimes, including mass killings, forced displacement, discrimination, and land confiscation, perpetrated against the Hazara community by the Pashtun Taliban. Such recognition is not only a moral imperative but also a legal one, as it triggers international obligations to prevent and punish acts of genocide under the Genocide Convention.

2. Sanctions and Diplomatic Pressure: The international community, including the United Nations and individual nations, should consider imposing targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for the Hazara genocide. Diplomatic pressure should be exerted on the Taliban leadership to cease their campaign of violence and discrimination against the Hazara community.

3. Humanitarian Aid and Assistance: Humanitarian organizations should provide critical aid and assistance to internally displaced Hazara families, ensuring access to shelter, food, clean water, healthcare, and education. International donors should allocate resources to support these efforts.

4. International Tribunals: International tribunals or mechanisms should be established to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the Hazara genocide. Accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide is essential to ensure justice for the victims and deter future atrocities.

5. Inclusive Governance: Encourage the governments to adopt a more inclusive and representative system of governance that genuinely includes all ethnic groups, including the Hazara community. Promote inter-ethnic reconciliation, dialogue, and understanding as key components of a peaceful and just society.

6. Promoting Human Rights: International organizations and governments should prioritize the promotion and protection of human rights in Hazaristan and throughout so-called Afghanistan. This includes advocating for the rights of minority communities, pressuring a democratic government to uphold international human rights standards, and providing support for local human rights organizations.

7. Cultural Preservation: Support efforts to preserve and protect Hazara cultural heritage and religious sites. The destruction of cultural artifacts, such as the Buddhas of Bamiyan, should be condemned and efforts should be made to restore and safeguard these invaluable symbols of Hazara identity.

8. Public Awareness: Raise public awareness about the Hazara genocide and the ongoing human rights abuses against the Hazara community. Advocacy campaigns, documentaries, and educational programs can shed light on the issue and garner support for international action.

The way forward requires a concerted and sustained effort from the international community to address the plight of the Hazara community in Hazaristan. Recognition of the Hazara genocide is not only a symbolic gesture but a crucial step toward achieving justice, accountability, and lasting peace in the region. It sends a powerful message that the world stands in solidarity with the Hazara people and is committed to upholding the principles of justice, equality, and human rights for all.


The Pashtun Taliban’s systematic oppression of the Hazara community in Hazaristan represents a dark chapter in so-called Afghanistan’s history. Ethnic apartheid, marked by genocide, forced displacement, land confiscation, discrimination, and denial of fundamental rights, must be addressed urgently. The international community must stand in solidarity with the Hazara people and work towards a more inclusive and just Hazaristan, where all ethnic groups can coexist in harmony and enjoy their fundamental human rights without fear of persecution. Failure to act now would be a betrayal of the principles of justice, equality, and human dignity that are fundamental to humanity.


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