Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 17th, 2019

‘War Crimes’ Continue

Friday’s attack on Imam Zaman Mosques in Kabul has been labeled as a war crime by Human Rights Watch (HRW). As per the statement by HRW, the attack is called as serious violation of the laws of war, and an apparent war crime. The attack was carried out in Qila-e-Najara neighborhood in Kabul by 4 to 5 attackers who entered the mosque by throwing grenades at the entrance and then started shooting people during Friday prayers, killing more than 40 innocent people, including women and children. Patricia Gossman, Senior researcher at HRW said in a statement, “An attack on a place of worship during prayers is a horrific crime meant to maximize civilian deaths,” said Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch. The statement by HRW also said, “Under the laws of war, deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects such as houses of worship are war crimes. Dressing as civilian police to carry out a military attack is also a war crime. Criminal acts such as murder committed by state security forces or armed groups as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population such as a religious minority are crimes against humanity.”
Attacks on minorities seem to be on rise in Afghanistan. Such attacks are mostly claimed by Daesh, which because of their extremist ideology, considers Hazaras infidel. Friday’s attack is not the first of its kind; recently, there have been many such attacks. During the second week of August, more than 50 people were killed in Mirza Olang village of Sar-e-pul province; the victims were mostly Hazara Shia.
On August 01, more than 20 Hazaras were killed in an attack on mosque in Herat province. As a matter of fact, the list of such attacks seem to be getting lengthier; unfortunately, there is no serious arrangements in place to stop such attacks.  
A couple of months earlier, in June, Al-Zahra Mosque, situation in Dasht-e-Barchi, where mostly Hazaras reside, was targeted by a suicide bomber. The attack resulted in the death of at least 10 people and injury to 15 others.  
In November last year, 27 Hazaras were killed and more than 30 others were wounded through a suicide attack at the Baqir-ul-uloom mosque in District 6 of capital Kabul, where the people were commemorating ‘Arbaeen’. That had in fact followed the tragic attack on the Sakhi Shrine in the capital which was carried out during Ashura procession and had killed 18 people. A similar type of attack was carried out in Balkh province that had also targeted Shia Hazaras who were worshipping during Ashura and had resulted in deaths of 14 innocent people. 
In July last year, three attackers with suicide vests attacked the Hazara protestors who were raising their voice for changing Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP) power project route through Bamyan. Two of the attackers blasted themselves among the protestors while the third one was killed by the security forces. The attack resulted in death of more than 85 people and injury to over 400 others and thus marked one of the most tragic incidents in Afghanistan’s history. The attack was also claimed by Daesh.
Moreover, who can forget the tragic incident when seven innocent civilians belonging to Zabul province were kidnapped on a highway and later killed brutally, which included the 9-year old girl Shukria, whose throat was slashed by the kidnappers.
Just few months earlier to that incident, at least 13 Hazaras were killed by gunmen in Zari district of Balkh province, while they were travelling in a minibus. And in February same year, 31 Hazara passengers were abducted from Zabul province while they were travelling from Herat to Kabul, most of whom were later released.
Most of these incidents have been linked to Daesh, and mostly they have even claimed the responsibility but, unfortunately, there have not been tangible measures to stop the situation. The government authorities have kept on insisting that the threats of Daesh are not serious and Afghan forces have control over them; however, the claims have not proved to be right until now. And if the security arrangements remain as they are, Hazaras will keep on suffering such brutal attacks.
As the government authorities are not able to secure different parts of the country and important highways, the insurgents create their own check-posts, stop the vehicles, search the passengers and even loot them on various occasions. On some occasions, Hazara passengers have been selectively segregated from others and then taken away or later killed.
With such a situation prevailing, it is really tragic to find the government authorities unconcerned. They mostly claim that they make efforts to ensure the security of the civilians without any distinction but different incidents, every now and then, show that they either do not have the capability to do so or they lack the motivation. Their efforts are mostly observed after the incidents take place and the poor civilians are killed.
Thus, the government requires taking practical and tangible measures to control the security situation and ensure the security of everyone without any distinction of ethnicity or race. There are fears that if the security situation remains fragile another civil war may erupt in the country and may once again push Afghanistan towards a quagmire of instability and chaos.