While Canada seeks out less inconvenient peacekeeping missions, Afghanistan's Hazaras will forever remember this past weekend with the number 150. Not because of its festive Canadian connection, but rather due to this past Saturday's massacre that took place at Mirza Olang in Afghanistan's Sare-e-Pul province.
This horrendous tragedy, the most recent of its kind perpetrated against the Hazaras, has claimed the lives of over 50 civilians, leaving many more severely wounded. Early reports confirmed that 150 families, mostly women and children, had been abducted and many of the victims decapitated.
The Hazaras, mainly Shia Muslims, have repeatedly been targeted for their ethnicity and faith throughout Afghanistan's history. A number of Shia mosques in Afghanistan have been attacked and its worshipers killed during prayer times.
Only days ago, worshipers at the city of Herat's Jawadya mosque were brutally attacked. That incident wounded 63 people and left over 29 people dead. Among them was the father of young Fatemeh Qaderyan. The 14-year-old, who won the world's affection when her all-girl team competed at the U.S. robotics championship, was also injured as a result of that attack.
In a televised press conference, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah commented that the tragic incident of Mirza Olang was preventable due to advance intelligence reports. This shocking revelation paired with a June 2017 letter that the commander of Kabul's garrison sent to peaceful protesters, warning them of retaliatory terror attacks if they protested, raises serious questions about the regimes involvement and its relationship with the so-called terrorists.
The current persecution of the Hazaras, which falls nothing short of the very definition of a systematic genocide, has flourished and seen new depths under the current regime of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
His critics have consistently accused him of skillfully alienating all other ethnic leaders and blocking their grasp from any meaningful power. Many argue that these actions constitute in effect a complete "pashtunization" of the government and a return to the tyrannical rule of Abdul Rahman Khan. In the late 1900s, the ruthless dictator Abdul Rahman Khan ordered the killing of all Shias in central Afghanistan, leaving tens of thousands of Hazaras dead, according to anthropologist Thomas Barfield.
Forcefully displaced from their ancestral fertile lands by Abdul Rahman Khan and confined to central Afghanistan's uncultivable lands, the defenseless Hazaras and their meager harvest are attacked every summer by armed nomad bandits, something that both the previous and present Kabul regimes have willfully refused to acknowledge or remedy.
In fact, in February 2013, a group of activists and poets had written a letter to then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, asking him to take necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of the Hazaras:
"Even in their homeland, Afghanistan, Hazaras are not safe. Every year, they are attacked by Afghan nomads who are backed by the Taliban and the Afghan government. Hazarajat roads are blocked by the Taliban gunmen. Hazara cars are halted and passengers are killed."
A year ago, on Aug. 13, 2017, Afghan-Canadians gathered before Parliament Hill to protest the continued persecution of the Hazaras and the Canadian government's continued financial support to the current corrupt Kabul regime at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.
At that gathering, a formal request was handed over to Member of Parliament Chandra Arya, who received the document on behalf of the Liberal government. One of the key points of the document was as follows:
"That the Canadian government through an international coalition or body should launch a formal independent investigation in the systematic genocide of the Hazara people of Afghanistan."
Yet, of the entire Canadian government apparatus, only Senator Mobina Jaffer responded to these cries for help. On Nov. 28, 2016, in a moving speech in the Red Chamber, Senator Jaffer called upon her colleagues and Canadians to stand up for the human rights of the Hazaras.
A year later, the fighting has only intensified, with dozens of incidents recorded every day. In the first half of the year, 1,662 civilians were killed and 3,581 injured, according to UN figures. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it clear that "there are absolutely no plans to send any troops back to Afghanistan."
In the hopes of building a shining portfolio of successes for its 2020 UN Security Council bid, Canada has decided to select manageable peacekeeping missions rather than hear the cries of the Hazaras. Canadians ought to ask themselves what 158 brave Canadians fought and died for, if not for the human rights of defenseless civilians and ending the genocide of the Hazaras.
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