Editors Note: A conference was held on 10th September 2013 in the British parliament (House of Commons) by Hazara All Party Parliamentary Group. The parliamentary group is composed of 20 British MPs from each ruling and opposition parties (both House of Commons & House of Lords) aimed at ‘raising awareness about human rights situations of Hazaras in Afghanistan & Pakistan’ as per its official Facebook Page.
The event was chaired by MP John Denham. Other speakers included Iain Stewart MP, lexandra Buskie of UNA-UK’s Responsibility to Protect Programme Officer, Dr.Timor Sharan and Dr.Saleem Javed (spoke via video-link).
Ladies and gentelmen, good afternoon!
Let me express my cordial gratitude to Hazara All Party Parliamentry Group & Friends of Hazaras for organising such a vital conference at such a historic place.
I am sure the distinguished speakers have already shed enough light on the persecution of Hazaras in Pakistan & Afghanistan. So I do not feel it necessary to go to its background.
I would like to begin my speech with a an extract from the UN General Assembly’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Article 1 of the convention clearly confirms that ‘genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.’
Article 2 of the convention defines genocide ‘as any of the acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, by:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.’
Ladies and gentelmen, lets now examine if the case of Hazara killings qualify to be termed a genocide.
As most of you know that Hazara population in Balochistan is only about 500,000. Majority of them live in Balochistan’s capital city, Quetta.
1,300 have been systematically killed over last one decade in different ways. Some were shot in the head on broad day light in the busiest parts of the city….Some were taken off a public bus and massacred mercileslly…..And some were blown up by IEDs. It includes professionals, students, laborers, women anc even children.
Credible figure revealed by rights organisations shows that 1 out of every 500 Hazaras has been killed in last ten years. 3 out of every 500 have received serious injuries. 5 percent of the entire community, which is ofcourse the most dynamic, educated, and fruitful part of the community, have left the country permanantly by endangering their lives through pecific ocean or crossing Turkish border for Europe.
And 0.6 percent of them have last their lives only in the pecific ocean. 1300 deaths might not be a big number to attract world attention but this is absolutely a huge number in terms of propotionality.
If a community is warned through through threat letters to leave the country within a year or face the consequences…….If more than 130 attacks are launched against a single ethno-sectarian minority in a very small city, and the culprits call the local media to claim responsibility for every single attack and vow to continue attacks untill, in their terms, ‘get the land cleansed of unclean people’,…..means nothing but genocide.
If a chief minister offers nothing but a trcukload of tissue papers to the bereaved families,…..if a home minister says he has clues about the target killers but he is helpless,……. if the country’s former Deputy Speaker confirms that “Hazaras and their friends from other sects were being chased, followed and killed everywhere in the province”, if a senator reports to the Upper House that SMS circulates in Quetta about sharing information in case any Hazara was spotted,….. all prove nothing but genocide.
If a community’s students, who happen to be the most educated community in Pakistan, are bombed on their way to University, causing more than 95% decline in their enrollment at universities,…. if the community’s businessmen shut their businesses,….. its talented & patriotic officers leave their jobs and day laborers restrict themselves to their own enclaves, all in fear of getting target-killed, such a situation means nothing but genocide.
When a minority community, with an outstanding history of services & sacrifices for the country, refuses to bury the dead bodies of their loved ones and instead place them on a road as a protest and due to lack of enough space in the graveyard, one has to accept that it is nothing but genocide.
When a mother allows his highly educated son, whose ancestors used to rise to some of the highest state positions, to depart for Australia on a broken boat because she thinks there is 80% survival chance compared to 20% survival chance in Quetta, this indicates nothing but genocide.
There are people who calls it sectarian clash or at least part of a larger sectarian conflict in the region or perhaps as a collateral damage of a secret game; or whatever the reason; the fact is still the same: A plain, unilateral and silent genocide of a minority group is going on with minimal efforts to prevent it.
One would wonder, ladies and gentelmen, as to why such a human catestrophy is not making headlines? Why is the international media silent? Why are not human rights organisations lobbying to stop it? Is it because Hazara community is an absolute ethno-sectarian minority whose survival matters not? Is it because they are not stretagically important? Or maybe because nobody knows about it? Whatever the answer, our silence is absolutely criminal.
Thanks to British Hazaras, by the way, for rightly taking up the issue with their respective representatives. The British Hazaras, I am sure, like other Hazara diaspora directly or indirectly suffer from the ongoing genocide of their community members back at home. Many of them have lost their relatives and friends which definately inflicts mental harms, if not physical. And thus it becomes the responsibilty of the United Kingdom, and of course its historic responsibility as well, to take up the issue with the Government of Pakistan.
The British Government has a friendly relation with Pakistan and supports it in various projects including improvements of minority rights or human rights in general.
So, I am confidant, that you can convince your government to specifically address the genocide of Hazaras and, if needed, provide technical support to the Government of Pakistan, particularly in counter-terrorism efforts, and specifically to the provincial government which is now led by a well-reputed Chief Minister, in order to protect the commmunity.
At the same time, many minor emergency measures can be of great help. For example, you can persuade your government to announce special scholarship packages for the talented students who have dropped out of college or university in fear of getting killed.
Moreover, You can effectively lobby to spread awareness and mobilize the international community to take concrete measuers in order to put an end to the genocide of Hazara minority.
Where there is a will, there is a way. As you all believe!
Thank you so much!