Last update: April 2022
This profile includes people who belong to the Hazara ethnicity. Mostly, persons of Hazara ethnicity are of Shia religion and the two profiles should be read in conjunction.
The majority of the Hazara population inhabits the Hazarajat. Hazaras are also well represented in most cities, including Kabul.
The Hazara ethnicity can usually be recognised by their physical appearance.
During the Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001, several massacres were perpetrated on the Hazaras. Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the Hazaras had improved their position in society. However, new security threats emerged for the Shia Muslim (Hazara) community from 2016 and onwards as the ISKP was established as a new conflict actor in Afghanistan carrying out attacks targeting, inter alia, Hazaras [COI query on Hazaras, Shias, 1.1, 1.2; Country Focus 2022, 2.4].
Attacks against Hazara individuals by Taliban were reported in 2021. With the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, instances of violence against the Hazara were reported to have increased [Security September 2021, 2.10, 2.1].
After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, there seemed to be no Taliban policies in place against the Hazara minority. Shia Muslims were allowed to perform their religious ceremonies, such as annual celebrations of the Ashura. Furthermore, the Taliban vowed to protect the Hazara community and Taliban fighters reportedly guarded Shia Mosques. Hazaras were appointed to posts in the new Taliban administration at central and provincial level, but it was debated whether these people are regarded as truly representatives of the Hazara minority since they had already been part of the Taliban insurgency. Furthermore, the Taliban were reported to have confirmed that its governance would be based solely on Sunni Hanafi jurisprudence [Country Focus 2022, 2.4].
Forced evictions of Hazaras also reportedly took place. Several of these were reported to have taken place in September 2021 in Daykundi province and in October in Helmand and Balkh provinces. In some cases, these evictions have been ordered by Taliban local leaders while in other cases Hazara residents were reportedly evicted by Kuchi nomads or by ‘the Taliban and associated militias’. On some instances, the Taliban at local level vowed to investigate and/or address the issue. However, on other occasions local Taliban leaders claimed that the evictions took place in accordance with relevant court decisions. Taliban officials in Kabul had also reportedly retracted some eviction orders in Daykundi [Country Focus 2022, 2.4].
There is also prejudice and negative attitude against Hazaras on the part of the Taliban fighters, due the Hazara community’s engagement in the former government and because they were perceived as more supportive of the West than other groups in Afghanistan. There is also the perception within conservative parts of the Afghan society that the Hazara minority has embraced a culture not in line with the Taliban’s definition of Islam. There was an ‘anti-Hazara’ language among the general population even before the takeover [Country Focus 2022, 2.4].
Over recent years attacks by insurgent groups have mainly been attributed to ISKP, who consider Hazara/Shia legitimate targets. These attacks have significantly affected the Hazara population. Attacks by ISKP targeted places where Hazara/Shia gathered, such as religious commemorations, weddings, and sites (e.g. hospitals) in Hazara-dominated neighbourhoods in large cities, including Kabul and Herat. Such attacks could be related to their religion (see the profile 2.11.2 Shia, including Ismaili). Among other reasons, the ISKP also reportedly targets the Hazara due to their perceived closeness and support for Iran and the fight against the Islamic State in Syria [COI query on Hazaras, Shias, 1.3, 1.4; Anti-government elements, 3.3, 3.6.1].
For the first half of 2021, UNAMA reported a resurgence of ‘deliberate sectarian motivated attacks against the Shia Muslim religious minority’, mostly the Hazara ethnic minority. Nearly all 20 incidents during this period were claimed by ISKP and included shootings and non-suicide IED attacks, some involving buses and other vehicles transporting members of the Hazara community, resulting in 500 civilian casualties (143 killed and 357 injured) [Security September 2021, 1.4.2].
After the Taliban take-over in August 2021, the Shia community continued to be targeted by ISKP. Large scale attacks by ISKP took place on Shia (Hazara) mosques in Kunduz and Kandahar in October 2021, in which at least 119 people were killed and 220 wounded. Incidents causing civilian casualties, were also reported in the Dasht-e Barkhi area of western Kabul, dominated by Shia Hazaras, during the fall of 2021 [Country Focus 2022, 2.4].
The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. killing, abduction, sectarian attacks).
The situation of Hazara has to be assessed in light of the recent takeover by the Taliban. The risk of targeting by ISKP should also be assessed in light of the group’s operational capacity. Risk-impacting circumstances could be related to other profiles, such as 2.11.2 Shia, including Ismaili, 2.1 Persons affiliated with the former Afghan government, 2.6 Healthcare professionals and humanitarian workers, including individuals working for national and international NGOs, or 2.9 Individuals perceived to have transgressed moral and/or societal norms.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of (imputed) religion (see profile 2.11.2 Shia, including Ismaili), (imputed) political opinion (e.g. links to the former government, perceived support for Iran), and/or race (ethnicity).
See other topics concerning ethnic and/or religious minorities: