HRW: Afghanistan Hazara community at risk due to inadequate protections by authorities

Inadequate protections by the de-facto Taliban authorities in Afghanistan continue to leave the Shia-Hazara community at risk and contribute to their plight, according a report released Friday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The report highlighted that endless conflict in the country continues to affect the lives of many marginalized communities in the country, particularly Hazaras and emphasized that the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has notoriety for persistent attacks targeting Shia Hazara mosques, schools and neighborhoods.

The report further referenced the widespread nature of attacks during 2024, which have targeted Hazaras, including a bus attack on January 6th, a bus exposition on April 20th an a shooting at a Hazara mosque on April 29th, which in total killed 11 Hazara dead and countless injured. This adds to the thousands killed or injured since the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, following the collapse of the Afghan government and subsequent withdrawal of UK and US allied forces. The Taliban’s return to power had led to widespread impunity for breaches of international humanitarian law and war crimes targeting women, girls and Hazaras.

JURIST News spoke to Fereshta Abbasi, Human Rights Watch’s Afghanistan Researcher and author of the report, who told said that impunity for breaches of international law has resulted in a lack of protective measures for vulnerable populations, as well as the lack of help for survivors. Abbasi told us:

The systematic targeting of Hazaras by the ISKP in Afghanistan constitutes a grave violation of international human rights law. These heinous acts demand urgent and decisive actions by the international community to uphold justice and protect vulnerable communities.

Recently, the US Department of State released its 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and in its Afghanistan report said, “ISIS-K also disproportionately targeted Hazara community members who were predominantly followers of the Shia branch of Islam,” with Hazara’s bearing “the brunt of systemic discrimination by the Taliban.” Organizations like Genocide Watch have described targeted attacks on Hazaras as an ongoing genocide and called to hold Taliban accountable.