Afghanistan – Researched and compiled by the Refugee Documentation
Centre of Ireland on 7 December 2010

Treatment of Hazara by government forces, November 2009 – November
2010.

Hazara People/ Photo by Najib Musafer

Hazara People/ Photo by Najib Musafer

A report by the United States Department of State under the heading
Religious Demography states:

Historically members of the same religious groups have concentrated in
certain regions. Sunni Muslim Pashtuns dominate the south and east. The
homeland of the Shi’a Hazaras is in the Hazarajat, the mountainous central
highland provinces around Bamyan province. Northeastern provinces
traditionally have Ismaili populations. Other areas, including Kabul, are more
heterogeneous and include Sunni, Shi’a, Sikh, Hindu, and Baha’i populations.
The northern city of Mazar-e Sharif includes a mix of Sunnis (including ethnic
Pashtuns, Turkmen, Uzbeks, and Tajiks) and Shi’a (Hazaras and Qizilbash),
including Shi’a Ismailis. (United States Department of State (17 November
2010) International Religious Freedom Report 2010 Afghanistan)

In a section titled Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom the same
report continues:

Most Shi’a were members of the Hazara ethnic group, which was traditionally
segregated from the rest of society for a combination of political, ethnic, and
religious factors, some of which resulted in conflicts. The Hazaras accused
the government of providing preferential treatment to Pashtuns and of
ignoring minorities, especially Hazaras. The government made significant
efforts to address historical tensions affecting the Hazara community.
Although there were reported incidents of unofficial discrimination, and
treatment varied by locality, Shi’a generally were free to participate fully in
public life. (ibid)

Another report by the United States Department of State under the heading
Societal Abuses and Discrimination notes:

Social discrimination against Shia Hazaras continued along class, race, and
religious lines. Ethnic Hazaras reported occasionally being asked to pay
additional bribes at border crossings where Pashtuns were allowed to pass
freely. (United States Department of State (11 March 2010) 2009 Human
Rights Report: Afghanistan)

In a section titled National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities this same report adds:
Ethnic minorities continued to face oppression, including economic
oppression. Dasht-i Barchi, one of Kabul’s poorest neighborhoods, was home
to a large Hazara population. Average earnings per day were 13 Afghanis (25
cents) per person, although the minimum wage was 63 Afghanis ($1.25) per

day; average household size was nine to 10 persons. In Dasht-i Barchi, 60
percent of all families rented their homes and were therefore subject to
landlord exploitation; 50 percent of families’ income went to cover rent, and
families moved frequently. (ibid)

A report by the United States Congressional Research Service under the
heading Religious Freedom states:

A positive development is that Afghanistan s Shiite minority, mostly from the
Hazara tribes of central Afghanistan (Bamiyan and Dai Kundi provinces) can
celebrate their holidays openly, a development unknown before the fall of the
Taliban. Some Afghan Shiites follow Iran s clerical leaders politically, but
Afghan Shiites tend to be less religious and more socially open than their coreligionists
in Iran. The Hazaras are also advancing themselves socially and
politically through education in such fields as information technology. The
former Minister of Justice, Sarwar Danesh, is a Hazara Shiite, the first of that
community to hold that post. He studied in Qom, Iran, a center of Shiite
theology. (Danesh was voted down by the parliament for reappointment on
January 2, 2010, and again on June 28 when nominated for Minister of
Higher Education.) (United States Congressional Research Service (13
October 2010) Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
pg 25)

A report by the UNHCR under the heading Minority ethnic groups notes
Social discrimination against the Hazaras continues to be reported, including
being asked to pay bribes at border crossings where Pashtuns were allowed
to pass freely. Despite significant efforts by the Government to address
historical tensions affecting the Hazara community, including preferential
employment, some Hazaras community leaders accused President Karzai of
providing preferential treatment to Pashtuns to the detriment of other
minorities, particularly the Hazaras. Furthermore, the rising power of warlords
is also a concern for the Hazaras as they may pose a direct threat to the
Hazara community given the absence of State presence and rule of law in
many areas Despite constitutional guarantees of equality among all ethnic
groups and tribes and Government s attempts to address the problems faced
by ethnic minorities, discrimination and ethnic clashes, particularly in relation
to land ownership disputes, still occur. Severe discrimination against ethnic
minorities in some areas is also reported, most commonly in the form of
denial of access to education and other services and political representation.
As such, members of ethnic groups may be at risk of persecution on the
ground of their ethnicity/race, in areas where they constitute a minority. In this
respect, the fear of being persecuted need not always extend to the whole
territory of Afghanistan. (UNHCR (July 2009) UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines
for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from
Afghanistan – pg 19)

A report by Freedom House under the heading Political Rights and Civil
Liberties states:

Religious freedom has improved since the fall of the ultraconservative
Taliban government in late 2001, but it is still hampered by violence and
harassment aimed at religious minorities and reformist Muslims. The
constitution establishes Islam as the official religion. Blasphemy and apostasy

by Muslims are considered capital crimes. While faiths other than Islam are
permitted, non-Muslim proselytizing is strongly discouraged. A 2007 court
ruling found the minority Baha i faith to be a form of blasphemy, jeopardizing
the legal status of that community. Hindus, Sikhs, and Shiite Muslims
particularly those from the Hazara ethnic group have also faced official
obstacles and discrimination by the Sunni Muslim majority. Militant groups
have occasionally targeted mosques and clerics as part of the larger civil
conflict. (Freedom House (3 May 2010) Freedom in the World – Afghanistan
(2010)

References:

Freedom House (3 May 2010) Freedom in the World – Afghanistan (2010)
http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2010&country=77
65
(Accessed 6 December 2010)
UNHCR (July 2009) UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the
International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Afghanistan
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/4a6477ef2.pdf
(Accessed 6 December 2010)
United States Congressional Research Service (13 October 2010)
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/4cd94d102.pdf
(Accessed 6 December 2010)
United States Department of State (17 November 2010) International
Religious Freedom Report 2010 Afghanistan
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010/148786.htm
(Accessed 6 December 2010)
United States Department of State (11 March 2010) 2009 Human Rights
Report: Afghanistan
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136084.htm
(Accessed 6 December 2010)
This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information
currently available to the Refugee Documentation Centre within time
constraints. This response is not and does not purport to be conclusive as to
the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please read in
full all documents referred to.
4
Sources Consulted:
Amnesty International
BBC News
Electronic Immigration Network
European Country of Origin Information Network
IRIN News
Freedom House
Human Rights Watch
International Crisis Group
Lexis Nexis
Minorities At Risk Project
Minority Rights Group International
Refugee Documentation Centre Query Database
United Kingdom Home Office
UNHCR Refworld
United States Congressional Research Service
United States Department of State

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