I am the gravestone and the photograph
November 21, 2012 6:28 AM   Subscribe

I am Hazara Close to 1,000 Hazaras have been killed in targeted attacks and shootings in [Quetta] the capital of Pakistan’s largest province [Baluchistan]. The indifference towards the atrocities has forced this shrinking community to take escape routes and gamble between life at the promised land and death at the ocean. Dawn, Pakistan's largest English-language daily, puts together an essay accompanied by short videos (subtitled in English).
posted by bardophile (8 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

The Killers Of Quetta
Hazaras make particularly attractive targets. Not only are they Shi’ites, but they are also descendants of émigrés who escaped a previous wave of persecution in Afghanistan in the 19th century. Such “otherness” was not an issue in Pakistan in the past. Now, it is a death mark.
The Quiet Rise Of The Quetta Shura
What the student pointed out was the alarming rise of the Quetta Shura, a council of Taliban leaders who took refuge in Quetta, Pakistan after the Taliban regime was toppled over by the United States in 2001, as a major power broker in the area, and the frustration it is causing among the local Balochis who are suffering at the hands of this new class of militancy.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:00 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

bardophile's blog makes for fine reading. She is an insightful writer, and her blog an interesting window into Pakistani life.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:20 AM on November 21, 2012

hazara.net blames it all on "al-Qaeda related terrorists" trained by Pakistan's Frontier Corps and protected by Pakistan's ISI - which is a familiar theme.
posted by three blind mice at 7:20 AM on November 21, 2012

With the following assumptions: 1) the ISI is quite competent, 2) in general the attackers are associated with known extremist Sunni/Wahabi elements, it follows that the ISI has to know, and if they're letting it go on, they're probably involved. The government has made clear that it doesn't care. It's been difficult to identify attackers, though. And while the Hazara are the primary targets, other people are dying as well, confusing things a little bit more.

In Quetta there are three main ethnicities, Hazaras, Afghans and Baloch. The relationship is complicated but had mostly been reasonable up until the past 5-7 years. Extremists from the Afghans are largely the ones most in touch with Saudi ideologies where the killing of Shias is encouraged, the Baloch are fighting a war to garner more attention from the Punjabi-centric government or secede trying, and the Hazaras are just trying to survive, with all the gains they made as a community by investing in education from the previous generation onward being taken away from them slowly, as less people, many of them teachers, are able to safely venture out into the rest of the city to work. I was just talking to my cousin who is still there, and it made me think of what's going on right now in Gaza, minus the rockets, and when I mentioned that, my cousin laughed. Because there are rockets. It's commonplace. Hazaras live nestled up against the mountain, and there's been many rocket attacks that have hit inside the community.

The Hazara are constantly targeted. My father was shot and killed in a religious procession 25 years ago. There have been intermittent episodes before and after, but it was in the past 5 years or so that things really got started, with an escalation of suicide bombings and target killings. Kidnappings have ramped up as well. My uncle was held for ransom, he was shot in the abdomen as he was closing shop, and other people were hurt in the process. Generally the people kidnapped don't come back alive. He was luckier than most, but the kind of psychological damage it did to our family is immeasurable.

More and more Hazaras are sending their kids, legally to Western countries like Canada, Norway and Denmark, or illegally, to Europe through Iran/Turkey, or on the boats from Indonesia to Australia. Peoplew ill be forced to take loans and sell property to have enough money to send their sons abroad.

There was a recent BBC video where a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan took some gripping video and photos of the journey from Indonesia to Australia by rickety boats:
posted by legospaceman at 8:13 AM on November 21, 2012 [9 favorites]

legospaceman: Thank you for that. It becomes too easy for us to become inured to suffering that we hear about frequently, but only at a distance, and without names and faces, just numbers and place names. These are the kinds of things we should be demonstrating in the streets about. At least some people are writing about it now, domestically. I'd like to see a feature like this from one of the Urdu-language papers, or from one of the Urdu-language TV channels.
posted by bardophile at 10:35 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the Sea There are Crocodiles tells the tale of a Hazara boy making his way to Europe. It's an easy read and a good story.
posted by shoepal at 11:30 AM on November 21, 2012

It is a source of seemingly endless shame to me that my own country insists on locking up the few Hazara refugees that make it to Australia - sometimes for years - because of our embedded racism.

These people have endured so much already, and then our government imprisons them in the middle of nowhere whilst psychosis, depression, and PTSD slowly eat them away. :(
posted by smoke at 1:54 PM on November 21, 2012

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