Pakistan’s Hazara population, a predominantly Shiite Muslim ethnic minority, has long been subjected to persecution, and in recent months, increasing violence. Yet in a disturbing new trend, members of the Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has claimed responsibility for several attacks targeting the country’s Hazara, have begun filming deadly assaults on the community and posting the videos online.
Filmed just outside of Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s western Balochistan province and home to a large Hazara community, the video below contains graphic images. A number of Hazara fruit and vegetable sellers were en route to Quetta from a suburb dubbed “Hazara Town” on October 4, when the bus they were travelling on was forced to stop by a group of armed men. Aiming their weapons into the vehicle, the assailants killed 13 of the passengers in cold blood.
The incident was reported by local media, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has ties to both al Qaeda and the Taliban, came forward to claim responsibility for the massacre. Footage of the attack later surfaced on the Internet.
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES
Though the video is several months old, it is representative of the kind of deadly violence that has become increasingly commonplace in the region. The last known attack happened on June 28, when a car bomb struck a bus carrying a group of Hazara on a road near Quetta. Thirteen people were killed and 25 others injured. The next day, members of the city’s Hazara community staged a demonstration to protest against the bloodshed.
According to Abdul Qayuum Changezi, head of the organisation Hazara Jarga, approximately 60 Hazaras have been killed since January alone, while more than 600 have been killed since 2000.
In addition to the threat of deadly violence, Pakistan’s Hazara population are also faced with persecution, and are regularly targeted by Sunni extremists who settled in Balochistan, which lies near the border with Afghanistan, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
“We’re an easily recognisable target for terrorists, because we look like Mongolians”
Hamza Qasimi, a Hazara, lives in Quetta.
In the video, the terrorists are speaking in Baravi, a local Balochistan dialect. They are shouting ‘Kafir, Kafir!’ which means ‘non-Muslim’. To them, we are infidels. It’s not the first time that the Taliban have filmed themselves executing members of my community. Other videos are circulating on the Internet, often set to Taliban chants. To them, killing Hazaras is a demonstration of power, and a source of pride.Video of an attack targeting Hazaras in September, 2011. In it, Taliban chants can be heard.We’re an easily recognisable target for terrorists because we look like Mongolians. Sometimes, they hunt us down in our stores in Quetta. My father had a shop near the central marketplace but he decided to leave town, it had become too dangerous to live here.
This article was written with FRANCE 24 journalist Peggy Bruguière.