• publish: 29 September 2021
  • time: 2:52 pm
  • category: Excerpted
  • No: 18911

Why are Hazaras being evicted from their homes in Afghanistan’s Daikundi?

At least 1,200 residents of a Hazara-dominated community were ordered by Taliban fighters to leave their homes in Daikundi province, declaring the land as “disputed”.

Taliban fighters in pickup trucks descended on several villages of Afghanistan’s Daikundi province last week and ordered people to empty their houses immediately, saying they were living there illegally.

Haji Muhammad, 42, quickly packed a few of his belongings and rushed his family of 10 to leave. 

In about less than 24 hours, Muhammad and his family made it to Kabul. They now live in a tent instead of a house he built himself. He also left behind his farms, where he grew wheat and almonds.

“I built that house myself on that piece of land I owned. I had my own farm where I grew wheat and almonds. I had to leave all of that behind to live in a tent and starve to death,” he told TRT World. 

Last week, at least 1,200 residents of a Hazara-dominated farming community were ordered by Taliban fighters to leave their homes in Daikundi province, southwest of Kabul, declaring the land as “disputed” after strongmen with links to the Taliban claimed ownership of at least 15 villages in Gizab and Tagabdar district. 

This was followed by a judgement in a Taliban district court which gave residents 10 days to evacuate their homes, according to local elders of the community.

Rights activists say the eviction took place despite the fact that residents had valid legal papers to proving ownership of the lands.

“Those residents had provided valid papers from King Zahir Shah’s era proving their ownership of the lands. All those documents were declared invalid,” Saleem Javed, a human rights activist, told TRT World. 

“In the first phase, about 400 families were forced to leave their homes in Kindir village in Gizab district as a test case, followed by other villages, once they noticed that their actions didn’t cause an outrage at international level.”

This comes days after the Taliban’s new defence minister issued a rebuke over misconduct by some commanders and fighters, saying abuses would not be tolerated.

Residents who were asked to leave by the Taliban told TRT World they lived in those areas for decades and owned the land, but “some Pashtun tribesmen, with the support of Taliban fighters claimed ownership of the Hazara property.”

Residents took refuge in the neighbouring villages and the city of Nili, in Daikundi province. Some have reached Kabul.

“We are living in a tent now with barely any food to eat and winter is coming upon us,” Shah Ali, a resident of Tagabdar district, told TRT World from Nili. 

The Hazara people are an ethnic group, predominantly Shia, who are native to the mountainous region of Hazarajat in central Afghanistan. 

They have a long history of persecution and discrimination in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As evictions were taking place, Mohammad Mohaqeq, a Hazara political leader exiled since the Taliban takeover last month, said in a statement on Facebook that the evictions were taking place by the order of Taliban governor Aminullah Zubair. 

He also shared a letter signed by Zubair that said “the land belonged to an elder named Haji Zaher and that those who disputed the claim can refer to the court after he has left the land.”

“This means that Taliban courts issue verdicts first and then it proceeds with the investigation process,” Mohaqeq said. 

The claim was denied by the Taliban, according to local Afghan media, and called the claims of eviction “propaganda”.

Saleem Javed, the human rights activist, warned that the forced displacement could be a continuation of a Taliban policy of ethnic cleansing.

During the Taliban’s takeover of the country in the late 1990s, Hazaras were subjected to discrimination, attacks and mass atrocities.

“We already feared that with the return of Taliban, the life of Hazaras won’t be easy. Nobody believed in the words of assurances uttered by Taliban spokesmen that they won’t harm anyone. They have already proven by their actions that Hazaras continue to be subjected to persecution, systematic discriminations and marginalization,” he said. 

Early this month, thousands of Afghans protested against the Taliban in the Kandahar province after residents were asked to vacate a residential army colony.

About 3,000 families were asked to leave the colony, which is predominantly occupied by families of retired army generals and members of the Afghan security forces.

“If the international community does not pressure Taliban to stop it now, they will consider their silence as an approval and will subjugate Hazara community to further and harsher forms of persecution.”

Back in Kabul, Haji Muhammad struggles to make ends meet and wishes to return back home soon. 

“Our situation is very bad right now, we left everything behind. It is hard to find work here, how will I feed my family?” he said.

“I had a big farm and my own home that I lived in for years, I have lost hope of that back now.”

Source: TRT World

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