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What peace means for Afghanistan's Hazara people

21 29 0

On September 2, the Taliban kidnapped Abdul Samad Amiri, the acting provincial director of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in the western Ghor province, and shot and killed him two days later. His brutal killing was strongly condemned both in Afghanistan and across the world, with Amnesty International explicitly declaring it a war crime.

For the civil society and human rights communities that have burgeoned in Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taliban regime, particularly for the Hazara ethnic group to which Amiri belonged, however, this murder was much more than a war crime.

The untimely loss of a young human rights defender at the hands of the Taliban made the members of Afghanistan's persecuted community question yet again the possibility of a future in which they feel safe, secure and empowered in their own country.

The Hazara people are a Persian-speaking, predominantly Shia ethnic group who are mainly native to the mountainous region of Hazarajat in central Afghanistan. They have a long history of persecution because of their religion and ethnicity, going all the way back to the 1890s.

They have not only faced violence at the hands of the Taliban and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), but also decades of institutional hostility and discrimination from Afghanistan's dominant ethnic groups. Until the 1970s, for example, Afghan law barred the Hazaras from holding office, enrolling in university, or holding any position of national authority. Discriminatory laws were also in place under the Taliban rule in the following decades.

Under former Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration, however, the Hazaras got a chance to reclaim their place in Afghanistan's public and political life. They also made some gains under the Ashraf Ghani-led government, but are unhappy with their limited representation in power and some national policies that limit their social and political empowerment.

But ever since the start of the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the Hazaras' worries about their future in Afghanistan have deepened. The decision of the United States to hold peace talks directly with the Taliban, a group particularly hostile towards the Hazaras, only exacerbated these concerns.

The peace talks between the Taliban and the US collapsed last week with US President Donald Trump declaring the negotiations "dead". However, the Hazaras are still on edge, as they are aware that in the current........

© Al Jazeera