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Hazers

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    Posted: 31-Jul-2005 at 13:30
Originally posted by Feramez

Can anyone give me some online sources or your personal knowledge about the Hazer people of Afganistan and Iran?  All I know about them is that they are about 80% Mongol and 20% Turk, they came into Afganistan during Cengiz Hans time and are the second largest ethnic group of Afganistan.  I can't find any good sources online about them but I am very interested in them.  Thanks.

There has been no proper census completed in Afghanistan to say how many Hazaras there are.  But they are probably ranked 3rd.  First being Pashtuns, second Parsiwans/Tajiks, with Hazaras third, followed by Uzbeks/Turcomans.  Hazaras speak a different dialect of Farsi that is called Hazaragi, although there are many who speak Dari and Pashto. 

Hazaras Troubled Past

They showed nominal allegiance to Afghan Kings and were known as bandits and robbers.  During the Anglo-Afghan Wars, many Hazaras sided with the British and after the British defeat, Abdur Rahman Khan, the emir of Afghanistan punished the Hazaras, evicting them off their lands and giving them to Pashtun nomads.  Thousands of Hazaras moved to Quetta, which was then occupied by the British where ironically they have made alliances with Shia Pashtuns today and live together in peace in what is today Pakistan.

Pakistani Hazaras

Their province in Afghanistan is known as "Hazarajat" and at the time was one of the least undeveloped regions of Afghanistan.  To this day, Hazarajat is still among the poorest provinces in Afghanistan.  Those Hazaras who sided with the Afghans against the British lived in Ghazni province and are known as the "Jaghuri" and are a respected and rich class in Afghan society.

Picture of Bamyan, Hazarajat:

During the reign of his sons Emir Amanullah and Habibollah, the Kings sent a royal decree of apology to the Hazara.  After the chaos of Bache Saqao (Son of the Water Carrier) who was a Kohistani Tajik, Nadir Khan took power and his forces were not kind to any kind of opposition towards his monarchy.  An Hazara student known as Abdul Khaliq shot and killed Nadir Khan, after which, Nadir Khan's son, Zahir Shah had him killed.

Under King Zahir Shah and Daud Khan, and the later Communist Governments, the capital Kabul saw a giant influx of Hazara into the city and surrounding provinces.  They lived in western Kabul, and huge populations moved to Mazar e Sharif & Balkh.  They worked as manual laborers, cooks, servants, etc. 

Soviet Invasion and Civil War

During the Soviet Invasion, the Hazaras, many able Hazaras left the country for the West and Iran.  Like other ethnic groups in Afghanistan, the Hazaras  raised arms against the Russians.  They were lead by Ustad Mazari and financed by Iran who favored them and their Shiite mazhab.  When the Soviets withdrew, their militia group known as "Hezbe Wahdat" destroyed looted and plunderd Kabul city along with Uzbeks, even looting the National Museum.  They also murdered many Pashtuns and Tajiks for what they saw as reprisal against bad treatment by them, at times even nailing their heads to posts to warn others.   

 Hezbe Wahdat Soldier in Kabul

In retaliation, Ahmad Shah Massouds forces when they retook Kabul, attacked the Hazara populations and mass murders took place.  In Kabul, Hazaras in Bamyan were known as "Cannibals" and "Moosh Khor" (Rat eaters)  and many derrogatory terms were created to describe them and their province. 

Hazaras and the Taliban

When the Taliban (mostly ethnic Pashtuns) took Kabul and had their sites on taking the whole country, they invited Ustad Mazari for talks, but in reality they were preparing to assasinate him.  His helicopter was shot down by a Taliban RPG and the Hazaras raised up in anger.  They were unable to dislodge the Taliban and Bamyan was taken by the Talibs. 

Soon after the Taliban had their sites on Mazar e Sharif, with the Uzbek General Dostum and his ally Abdul Maliq in disagreement, Dostum made an alliance with the Taliban and allowed them to enter the city in peace.  The Taliban took the city with ease, after which Dostum and Maliq switched sides again and closed the doors to the city, forced the Taliban to surrender their arms, and subsequently slaughtered over 2,000 Taliban soldiers in cold blood.  

Human rights groups claim many Taliban were buried alive and/or had their hands tied with barbed wire and thrown down wells, after which a bulldozer would cover the evidence.  The city was littered with their half buried bodies.  The Uzbek warlord Dostum, knowing his ally Maliq has made a mistake killing the Taliban soldiers, called the Taliban using a Sattelite phone giving his apologies and said he would offer to send the dead bodies back to the Taliban for proper Muslim burial.  He even said he would send his own investigation as to whom was responsible, although everybody knew that the Hazaras played a big role in it. 

Taliban Vengeance

The Taliban obviously did not take up Dostum on his offer and instead vowed to retake the city and have their vengeance.   The Following summer, the Taliban made huge advances and were just kilometers away from taking the city.  The Hazaras knowing that the Taliban would likely get support from the Pashtuns of Balkh, went on a murdering, looting and killing spree of Pashtun villages prior to the Taliban takeover.

When the Taliban retook the city, Pashtun villagers and the Taliban swarmed the city and singled out every Hazara out of Mazar and had them systematically slaughtered.  Many Uzbeks were also killed after being mistakened for Hazaras.   According to some reports upwards of 3,000-5000 Hazaras were killed.   During the mayhem,  Taliban broke into the Iranian embassy and executed 9 Iranian diplomats who they labeled as Spies which almost ignited a war with Iran.  The Taliban eventually handed over a few Taliban who were responsible and said they had no part in it.

After the takeover of Mazar and Bamyan, the Hazaras fought back in small pockets but were relatively not that effective.  The Taliban had an agenda to completely eradicate or minimalize the Hazaras and many human rights atrocities were committed in Yakaolang and other restive towns. 

 

At the same time, the Hazaras had fueds with Shiite Tajiks and some Tajik groups would encite Taliban attacks against the Hazaras in the Central provinces.  The Taliban now completley taking over Bamyan forced Hazaras in helping to destroy the ancient Kushan era Buddha statues.

Hazaras after the Taliban

Despite mass oppression of the Hazaras, the Hazaras population has increased by over 200%.  After 9/11 and the Taliban removal, the Hazaras have retaken their province and the government is trying to revitalize tourism and rehabilitation of the province.  Many Hazaras after being left homeless by the Taliban, still live in old Buddhist caves in Bamian are being offered government subsidized housing.   

Recently, an Hazara was elected vice president by Hamid Karzai, Ustad Khalili, a desciple of Mazari.  Karzais government also paved way for the first female governor of any Afghan province in Hazarajat, and she also is an Hazara.

Some pictures of Hazaras:

 

The perceptive man is he who knows about himself, for in self-knowledge and insight lays knowledge of the holiest.
~ Khushal Khan Khattak
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