About 1500 people attended a rally on October 8 to protest the latest Taliban attack on Hazara school students attending a practice university entrance exam at the Kaaj Education Centre in the Dasht-e-Barchi district of West Kabul on September 30.
Displayed on the stage were the portraits of those killed — a confronting reminder of the senseless loss of life.
Fifty-four Hazara students were killed and, in the days since, another 10 died from their injuries. Scores more were severely injured. All were young women and all were from the Hazara community.
“The innocent lives of these young school children were snatched, their future robbed,” Somaya Mirzaie told the protest. “Innocent lives lost at a place that is meant to develop and help build the skills of our future generations.”
In the days following the bombing, young women and girls have taken to the streets, Mirzaie said, only to be beaten back by the Taliban.
“As a religious and ethnic minority, the Hazaras of Afghanistan have been the target of discrimination, ethnic cleansing, land confiscation, slavery and persecution since 1891.
“During the past 5 years, thousands of our voiceless Hazaras have been killed, beheaded, bombed and taken hostage … simply as a result of their faith and ethnicity.”
The Taliban takeover poses a renewed threat to the Hazara community. Mirzaie pointed to the horrifying reports of torture and execution in what can only be described as a campaign of genocide.
Mirzaie called on the federal Labor government to speak out about the escalation of violence and protect the Hazaras in accordance with its international obligations.
“The dire situation of our fellow Hazaras in Afghanistan will increase further if the crimes committed against them continue to be met by inaction and silence,” she said.
A nationwide resolution, presented to Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John, demanded the government:
• formally recognise and condemn the dramatic escalation of violence against the Hazara people;
• convene an emergency roundtable with the Hazara community to hear their concerns about family members and relatives in Afghanistan;
• commit to an additional emergency intake of 20,000 people from Afghanistan focusing on at-risk groups such as the Hazara; and
• grant permanent protection to Hazara refugees currently on temporary protection visas.