THE HAZARA INQUIRY
Inquiry into the situation of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan
ABOUT THE INQUIRY
In January 2022, the House of Lords Select Committee on International Relations and Defence published its report on Afghanistan stating that ‘The Hazaras have a long history of suffering state persecution on both ethnic and sectarian grounds.’ This report follows warnings from Amnesty International, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Genocide Watch noting increasing levels of violence directed towards the Hazara community and highlighting the risk of a possible genocide.
Hazara’s are targeted based on their ethnic and religious identity and have long been targeted by the Taliban and other militant Sunni organisations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The issue of targeted attacks against the Hazara community in Afghanistan requires urgent attention as does the vulnerability of the group in Pakistan as these communities are closely linked.
The aims of the Inquiry will be to:
consider the situation of the Afghan Hazara, in Afghanistan and in Pakistan and map the crimes perpetrated against the group; identify the assistance available to the community and their shortfalls;
engage the UK Government and international actors with recommendations on assistance to the community;
identify justice and accountability avenues for legal recourse and engage with the evidence gathered.
Evidence gathering and timetable
Due to the risk that Hazara’s face in Afghanistan and Pakistan the Inquiry is operating in three stages to ensure recommendations can be implemented as soon as possible. These stages are:
First stage: Production of a mapping report identifying the evidence available to date and previous work done to address the situation. It would also identify the shortfalls which would become the priority for the inquiry.
Second stage: gathering submissions from experts, including survivors, through public hearings and written submissions. During this stage, the Inquiry will produce periodic reports focused on key issues and policy recommendations for the UK Government and international organisations.
Third stage: engagement with the UK Government, parliamentarians, and international organisations, with a final report highlighting all the findings and recommendations made throughout the inquiry.
The Inquiry is bicameral and cross-party. The Inquiry is supported by a secretariat and experts.
LORD ALTON OF LIVERPOOL
Crossbench Peer at the UK House of Lords
BARONESS KENNEDY OF THE SHAWS QC
Labour Peer at the UK House of Lords
PAUL BRISTOW MP
Conservative MP for Peterborough
CHRIS LAW MP
Scottish National Party MP for Dundee West
BRENDAN O'HARA MP
Scottish National Party MP for Argyll and Bute
CALL FOR WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS
PRESS RELEASE - THE HAZARA INQUIRY LAUNCHES ITS REPORT ON AFGHANISTAN
On 3 September 2022, the Hazara Inquiry, a joint effort of cross-party Parliamentarians from both Houses and experts working together to reveal atrocities and promote justice for the Hazara in Afghanistan and Pakistan, published their report on the situation of the Hazara in Afghanistan.
The report, focusing on the situation of the Hazara in Afghanistan since 2021, finds that Hazara in Afghanistan, as a religious and ethnic minority, are at serious risk of genocide at the hands of the Taliban and Islamic State–Khorasan Province (IS-K). This finding engages the responsibility of all states to protect the Hazara and prevent a possible genocide, under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention) and customary international law.
When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021, it significantly affected the situation faced by the Hazara and reversed the 20-year progress made in addressing the marginalisation and discrimination experienced by this minority group. The return to power of the Taliban has included brutal acts of violence against the Hazara throughout Afghanistan and a return of terror.
The first half of 2022 has seen hundreds of members of the Hazara community killed and many more injured as a result of the targeted attacks, including bombings of Hazara schools, places of worship and other centres. As this report was being finalised in August 2022, IS-K claimed responsibility for several attacks that resulted in over 120 fatalities within a few days only. Further attacks are expected because of the inaction and impunity in response to the targeting of the Hazara. This trend is likely to continue. There is a pressing need to provide the community with protection, in line with international obligations under the Genocide Convention.
Commenting upon the report, Lord Alton of Liverpool, a member of the Hazara Inquiry and patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response, commented that ‘Over recent months, we have witnessed a serious and increasing risk of genocide against the Hazara. It is urgent that we act to protect this vulnerable targeted community before it is too late. The dire situation faced by Afghanistan’s Hazaras will deteriorate further if the crimes committed against them are met by inaction and impunity. We have duties under the Genocide Convention and it is about time we acted upon them.’
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, member of the Hazara Inquiry, director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response, added, ‘The escalation of hostilities and attacks against the Hazara in Afghanistan require urgent response. We cannot allow the Taliban and IS-K target the Hazara for annihilation in the country - not if we have any respect to the promises we once made - to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.’
The report was delivered to several government’s officials in the UK, US, Canada, the Netherlands, but also UN and the ICC representatives.
The Hazara Inquiry continues to examine the situation of the Hazara in Pakistan and will be publishing the report over the next months.
The Afghanistan report can be found here.
More about the Hazara Inquiry here: https://www.hazarainquiry.com/
Any questions about the report can be sent to the Inquiry lead: Dr Ewelina Ochab: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HAZARA INQUIRY STATEMENT REGARDING THE TARGETED ATTACKS ON HAZARAS IN AFGHANISTAN
[London, 22 April 2022] On 19 April 2022, two explosions took place in front of the Abdur Rahim Shaheed High School gate in Dasht-e-Barchi, a Hazara neighbourhood in west Kabul. The attack has killed at least 40 and has injured over 60 people. Another hand grenade attack occurred in the Mumtaz Tuition Centre on the same day. On 21 April 2022, another attack targeted one of the largest Hazara/Shia mosques in Mazar-i-Sharif of Balkh province during prayers killing at least 30 and injuring over 80 people. The exact number of casualties in those attacks are yet to be confirmed.
These coordinated attacks mark the continuation of targeting the Hazara Shia community as seen over the years. Schools and mosques are some of the most common places of such targeted attacks. For example, on 8 May 2021, an attack targeting a school in Dasht-e-Barchi, Sayed Ul-Shuhada Girls High School, killed at least 85 Hazara girls and wounded over 240 more. On 8 October 2021, an attack on Sayed Abad Mosque, a Shia Mosque in Kunduz, killed 150 and injured more than 200. This attack followed by another attack a week later targeting a Hazara mosque in Kandahar killing 64 and injuring more than 100.
Such targeted attacks against the Hazara community have increased significantly since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2021. However, the issue does not appear to receive enough attention from the international community. Taliban has a record of human rights violations against the Hazaras during their first regime in the 1990s. It is highly unlikely they would be able to protect the community.
As Lord Alton of Liverpool commented: ‘As the eyes of the world are elsewhere, the Hazara community in Afghanistan is being slaughtered. We knew about this risk last year as the Taliban were taking over. Now the risk is materialising before our eyes. The world must act without any further delay.’
We condemn the targeted attacks against the Hazara education centres and mosque, and call upon governments and international organisations to act to protect this persecuted community:
Governments and international organisations, including the United Nations, must pay attention to the targeted attacks against the Hazaras and work together to ensure the protection of the community;
The International Criminal Court must prioritise investigations into the targeted attacks against the Hazaras in Afghanistan;
Governments, international organisations, and other actors must collect and preserve evidence for the atrocities committed against the Hazara people, and share them with the International Criminal Court.
Note: In April 2022, British Parliamentarians launched a Parliamentary inquiry into the situation of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The aim of the Inquiry is to consider the situation of the Hazaras in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, and map the crimes perpetrated against the group particularly where such crimes constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; identify the assistance (legal, humanitarian, and otherwise) available to the community and its shortfalls; engage the U.K. Government and international actors with recommendations on assistance to the community; and identify justice and accountability avenues for legal recourse and engage them with the evidence gathered.
Over the next months, the Inquiry will hear from survivors, experts, organisations assisting the communities and anyone else with relevant knowledge of the situation of the community. The Inquiry aims to shed light on the situation of the Hazaras and engage the international community to act.
PRESS RELEASE - THE HAZARA INQUIRY LAUNCHES ITS REPORT ON PAKISTAN
On 25 January 2023, the Hazara Inquiry launched its report into the situation of the Hazara in Pakistan.
The report finds that the situation of the Hazara in Pakistan is dire and continues to be exacerbated by the critical situation in Afghanistan. The Hazara in Pakistan are subjected to discrimination, persecution and social exclusion that have a profound effect on the community and its future. Some of the risk factors of atrocity crimes are clearly present, while further evidence is needed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the situation. Despite the limited evidence available, it is clear that the community requires assistance, and assistance that addresses the source of the problems encountered, rather than excludes the community from society even more.
The report can be downloaded from our website. See above.
During the parliamentary session on 25 January 2023, the Hazara Inquiry and the APPG on the Hazara launched their joint recommendations to address the situation of the Hazara in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as below.
Assessing and monitoring the situation of the Hazara
Monitor the situation of the Hazara, collect and preserve the evidence of the atrocities incl. focus specifically on the issue of sexual violence against the Hazara in Afghanistan.
Assess the situation of the Hazara (incl. in line with the UN Framework for Analysis of Atrocity Crimes) and determine the serious risk of genocide and other atrocity crimes.
Recognise the specific targeting of the Hazara in Afghanistan, because of their religious belief and their ethnicity, and their vulnerability as a result (including for the purposes of asylum resettlement to the UK under ACRS).
Responding to the atrocities
Identify a comprehensive response plan, including in accordance with the UK’s duties under the Genocide Convention.
Assess whether and how the Hazara communities have access to humanitarian aid provided by the UK and ensure that this assistance reaches them and engage in a dialogue with Afghan-neighbouring countries to ensure that the Hazara fleeing persecution in Afghanistan are provided with assistance and are not returned to Afghanistan.
Introduce new UK Aid initiatives that will benefit the Hazara community in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, responding to the current gaps in assistance available to the communities.
Justice and Accountability
Call upon the Taliban-run ‘caretaker government’ to ensure that all atrocities against the community are investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Work with international actors, including the International Criminal Court to ensure that they have access to all evidence of the atrocities. against the Hazara collected by the UK.
Impose Magnitsky sanctions against all those responsible for the atrocities against the Hazara and those enabling them.
Bring proceedings against Afghanistan before the International Court of Justice for its breaches of the Genocide Convention.
Commenting on the report, Paul Bristow MP for Peterborough and Chair of the Hazara All Party Parliamentary Group said:
“The findings of The Hazara Inquiry are compelling and call for us to reinforce our responsibility for holding perpetrators of the atrocities seen against the Hazara community to account, and to ensure an open and transparent process to explore and examine these findings and ensure they are implemented in accordance with our duties under the Genocide Convention.”