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Persecution and Genocide of Hazaras of Afghanistan


By Regina M. Paulose and Timothy Franklin

The Hazaras are an ethnic group from Afghanistan known to reside mainly in Hazarajat (also referred to as Hazaristan), in the central highlands of Afghanistan. The Hazaras are a predominantly Shi’a Muslim group. Since the late 19th century, the Hazara people have been victims of unspeakable acts of violence and mass killings committed at the hands of different leaders who have come to power in Afghanistan.

This policy paper provides a brief overview of some key events that have contributed to the deteriorating human rights conditions of the Hazara people, which the authors suggest are tantamount to genocide. The authors seek to inform the American Bar Association (ABA) and the international community of the importance of

a) recognizing the Hazara genocide by the U.S. State Department and the international community;

b) encouraging the ABA to work closely with lawyers in Afghanistan, especially Hazara lawyers, to document and investigate crimes perpetrated against the Hazara community;

c) calling upon the international community to stop and punish international crimes consistent with international treaties through avenues such as the International Criminal Court or Universal Jurisdiction; and d) calling upon the ABA to develop further policy regarding mass atrocity prevention.

               Context and Background to International Crimes Perpetrated Against the Hazara


Genocide prevention scholars focus on indicators to determine whether a genocide is being perpetrated against a specific group of people. The most commonly used indicators, known as “warning stages” or “warning signs” was developed by Dr. Gregory Stanton. Dr. Stanton posits ten stages that are not linear but predictable in a genocide.1 

The authors submit that before the accession of Afghanistan to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in February 2003,2 all ten stages have been continuously present. The following events––the massacres under Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afshar Massacre, and the Mazir-i-Sharif massacre––are examples of the failure of the international community to respond quickly enough to stop the genocide that is now in progress.

The views expressed herein represent the opinions of the authors. They have not been reviewed or approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the position of the Association or any of its entities.

Hazara Genocide Paulose & Franklin
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