Persecution never ends. It doesn’t matter if you live in America or Antarctica, across the globe, you’ll find folks oppressing, ostracizing even obliterating other people. The Hazara ethnic group of Afghanistan has been persecuted for centuries but, this week, the decapitated bodies of four Hazara men, two women and one 9-year-old girl were found near Zabul, sparking protests across the country.
As the Washington Post reported today, Hazara leaders believe that these horrific murders were carried out by militants linked to ISIL. Nonetheless, seven Hazara people, including the little girl, Shukira, are dead, just because of who they are.
On Wednesday, demonstrators raided the Afghan presidential palace and demanded the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani. In a televised address filled with bold cliches, Ghani assured that the beheaders will be “brought to justice” and that “revenge” will be served. He even speculated that enemies of Afghanistan committed these crimes to start an ethnic war between Hazaras and regular ol’ Afghanis.
The thing is, ethnic war wouldn’t be an issue if Afghanis had just left the Hazara people alone ages ago. Hazaras have been living in Afghanistan for more than 2,000 years, according to a brief history. Those living in Afghanistan are believed to be descendants of Turkish and Mongol invaders.
Brutality against the Hazaras began in the late 1800s, when the Muslim king Abdul Rehman Khan began to push his way onto their land. Many Hazaras were killed or sold as slaves. With his reign of terror, King Khan set an example for future Afghan leaders that is was okay to keep hurting Hazaras. Things got so bad that in 1933 a Hazara teenager assassinated the king of Afghanistan just to get some payback.
Sociologists theorize that the Hazaras have been so badly abused because they practice Islam’s minority denomination of Shia. Sunni believers dislike those faithful to Shia because, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad all the way back in 632 AD, they began to disagree on who should lead the Muslim community. Such disagreement, however, has led to seemingly endless killing and strife.
On Thursday, Shukira and the other victims were transported back to their native Ghazni province for burial. Candlelight vigils were held on Tuesday and protesters continue to hold up pictures of Shukira, putting a real face to this horrible act.
The Hazaras can’t understand why they must face such atrocities. And they don’t know when (or if) their persecution will end. One man told a Washington Post reporter, “We don’t know what our sin is. From one side, they are targeting us. And from the other side, the government is not helping us.”