The Taliban Deny Atrocities Against The Hazara

In September 2022, the Hazara Inquiry, a joint effort of cross-party Parliamentarians from both Houses and experts, published their report on the situation of the Hazara in Afghanistan since 2021, finding that Hazara in Afghanistan, as a religious and ethnic minority, are at serious risk of genocide at the hands of the Islamic State–Khorasan Province (IS-K) and the Taliban. This finding engages the responsibility of all states to protect the Hazara and prevent a possible genocide, under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention) and customary international law.

In an interview with BBC Persia, a Taliban spokesperson denied that the Hazara are targeted and claimed that all minorities are protected in Afghanistan. Our co-founder, Dr Ewelina Ochab, commented on these claims and presented the findings of the Hazara Inquiry.

Watch the full BBC Persia coverage of the topic below.

The Hazara at Risk of Genocide in Afghanistan

In September 2022, the Hazara Inquiry, a joint effort of cross-party Parliamentarians from both Houses and experts, published their report on the situation of the Hazara in Afghanistan since 2021.

​The report finds that Hazara in Afghanistan, as a religious and ethnic minority, are at serious risk of genocide at the hands of the Islamic State–Khorasan Province (IS-K) and the Taliban. This finding engages the responsibility of all states to protect the Hazara and prevent a possible genocide, under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention) and customary international law.

When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021, it significantly affected the situation faced by the Hazara and reversed the 20-year progress made in addressing the marginalisation and discrimination experienced by this minority group. The return to power of the Taliban has included brutal acts of violence against the Hazara throughout Afghanistan and a return of terror.

The first half of 2022 has seen hundreds of members of the Hazara community killed and many more injured as a result of the targeted attacks, including bombings of Hazara schools, places of worship and other centres. As this report was being finalised in August 2022, IS-K claimed responsibility for several attacks that resulted in over 120 fatalities within a few days only. Further attacks are expected because of the inaction and impunity in response to the targeting of the Hazara. This trend is likely to continue. There is a pressing need to provide the community with protection, in line with international obligations under the Genocide Convention.

Commenting upon the report, Lord Alton of Liverpool, a member of the Hazara Inquiry and patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response, commented that ‘Over recent months, we have witnessed a serious and increasing risk of genocide against the Hazara. It is urgent that we act to protect this vulnerable targeted community before it is too late. The dire situation faced by Afghanistan’s Hazaras will deteriorate further if the crimes committed against them are met by inaction and impunity. We have duties under the Genocide Convention and it is about time we acted upon them.’

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, member of the Hazara Inquiry, director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response, added, ‘The escalation of hostilities and attacks against the Hazara in Afghanistan require urgent response. We cannot allow the Taliban and IS-K target the Hazara for annihilation in the country – not if we have any respect to the promises we once made – to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.’

Dr Homira May Rezai commented, ‘Hazaras experienced genocidal campaigns in 1890s when almost two third of their population were annihilated as well as in 1990s under the Taliban regime when thousands were targeted and killed. Hazaras who were among the driving force leading the democratisation movement in Afghanistan are once again at risk of genocide. Urgent response is required by the international community and they must act on their duty to prevent genocide in Afghanistan.’

The report was delivered to several government’s officials in the UK, US, Canada, the Netherlands, but also UN and the ICC representatives.

The Hazara Inquiry continues to examine the situation of the Hazara in Pakistan and will be publishing the report over the next months.

The Afghanistan report can be found here.

Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

Her Majesty was loved and admired by the people in the United Kingdom and beyond.

She has been the strength that the people of the UK (and the world) needed, especially through the difficult times in recent years. She was loved and admired by the people in the United Kingdom and beyond. Her life of service will be an inspiration for many generations to come. Her dedication will continue to move nations to do good for generations to come.

Her Majesty will be dearly missed but Her legacy will live on.

Our thoughts go out to the Royal Family at this difficult time. 

ICC To Investigate The Taliban and IS-K

The Coalition for Genocide Response welcomes the decision of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to proceed with an investigation into alleged crimes, under the jurisdiction of the Court, in relation to the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, having been authorised by the ICC Appeals Chamber in March 2020. 

As announced by the Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan QC, the investigation will focus on the actions of the Taliban and Islamic State of Khoroson (ISIS-K) in Afghanistan.

The Coalition for Genocide Response welcomes the investigations into the crimes, especially as recent months have seen evidence and serious risk of atrocity crimes, including of genocide against the Hazara community. 

Considering the recent developments in Afghanistan, and the Taliban and ISIS-K’s legacy of atrocity crimes that have flourished in impunity for years, this focus is justified. This prioritisation is further affirmed by the limited resources of the ICC.

The ICC’s mandate to prosecute high-level perpetrators where States remain unable or unwilling is one that should be applied consistently and without fear or favour: as such it must not neglect the crimes of other alleged perpetrators in the region including nationals of non-States Parties in Afghanistan at the relevant time. The ICC ought to consider atrocities allegedly perpetrated by other actors when the situation allows.

Join the Initiative to #BringBackTheYazidis

Join the new initiative to #BringBackTheYazidis.

Contact us if you wish to sign the below statement.

We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, write respectfully to urge you to take decisive steps to locate the 2,763 Yazidi women and children who have been victims of forced or involuntary disappearances and missing for seven years. There are decisive steps that the international community could, and must, take to aid the discovery and safe return of these persons. We have a moral imperative to offer whatever leadership and support we can to end this horrific situation. 

As many governments and international institutions recognised, Daesh’s murderous actions against the Yazidis constituted genocide and crimes against humanity. Their 2014 attacks on Sinjar and the Ninevah Plains forced thousands of people to flee. Thousands more were abducted: boys forced to become child soldiers, and women and children sold into sex slavery. The number of those killed by Daesh is still not known. Mass graves continue to be discovered.  

Seven years after the genocide, it is a travesty that the Yazidi women and children remain missing and their fate unknown. If they are alive, they continue to be enslaved and subjected to daily abuse. Despite findings of genocide and repeated pronouncements expressing concern for Yazidis, the international community has failed to organise any effort to locate these kidnapped individuals.

We respectfully ask that you, individually and together, take the initiative to organise a search for the missing Yazidi women and children.  We understand many of the missing may have perished, but we have a moral responsibility to find the living and provide closure to the families of those murdered.  Therefore, we call upon you to work together with allies to ensure that the missing Yazidi women and children are accounted for, partnering with like minded governments, the United Nations, the Yazidi community as well as NGOs and experts. 

While the situation is complex, there are concrete actions that would aid the search and make a substantial difference for those who are still trapped, and their families. Therefore, we call upon you to: 

  • Work with partners to conduct an official search to identify the whereabouts of the missing women and children, including in the Al-Hol camp in Syria where many are believed to be held;
  • Work with local partners to free all Yazidi women and children who are alive and ensure that the remains of those killed are returned to their families and given a dignified and honourable burial. 

Now is the time to put action to words. While Yazidis face many challenges, organising a search for kidnapped women and children is tangible, workable, achievable, and long overdue. We call upon you to demonstrate the moral leadership and courage necessary to push global action in the face of genocide.

Should you have any questions, please contact Dr Ewelina U Ochab (Ewelina.ochab@gmail.com), Knox Thames (knoxthames@outlook.com), Pari Ibrahim (pari.ibrahim@freeyezidi.org), Abid Shamdeen (abid@nadiasinitiative.org).

Yours sincerely,

….

The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief (webinar)

In May 2019, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution establishing The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief to be marked annually on 22 August. The establishment of such a day, however, is not an end goal in itself. This day is intended to provide a springboard towards action that addresses the growing issue of violence based on religion or belief. In recent years, violence based on religion or belief is an ever-growing problem which must be addressed with a number of different and wide-ranging responses.

On 23 August, the Coalition for Genocide Response hosted a webinar marking the day. The webinar was co-chaired by Fiona Bruce MP, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Dr Ewelina U. Ochab, Co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, author of the initiative to establish the UN day. While marking the UN day, the speakers discussed required responses to acts of violence based on religion or belief, focusing on how to help individuals and communities after such violence occurs and how to prevent such acts in the future.

Speakers included:

Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, Founder and Director of Refcemi

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Peer at the UK House of Lords and Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

Jos Douma, Special Envoy for Religion and Belief, Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance

Nadine Maenza, Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Adam Phillips, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (FBNP), and of the Local, Faith and Transformative (LFT) Partnerships Hub within the Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation (DDI)

Helen Berhane, Eritrean former prisoner of conscience, advocate.

Watch the webinar here:

Will The Biden Administration Recognize The Atrocities Against The Rohingyas For What They Are?

On 10 August 2021, the Coalition for Genocide Response joined over 90 international organisations in an open letter to the Biden Administration calling for the formal recognition of the atrocities against the Rohingyas as genocide and crimes against humanity.

As the letter states:

‘A Rohingya genocide determination would … demonstrate a commitment to evidence-based accountability as the struggle for a truly inclusive and representative democratic Myanmar continues.

A determination would also help to ensure continued international attention on the plight of the Rohingya, while enabling the United States to mobilise additional diplomatic and economic pressure on Myanmar to shift its behaviour. This attention could offer a measure of protection for the Rohingya and others in Myanmar. It would also represent an expression of solidarity with the governments of Bangladesh and other refugee hosting countries, signalling the United States is committed both to accountability and supporting conditions for safe and voluntary return when conditions so permit.’

Read the full letter here

Commenting upon the joint initiative, Dr Ewelina Ochab, the co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, said: ‘We must remember that this genocide is not over and the Rohingyas in Myanmar continue to be at risk. Leadership is urgently needed. Global action is urgently needed. We shall not wait until this genocide materializes in whole. We must name it for what it is and act.’

Read the full article here

Seven Years Ago, They Came To Destroy: The Daesh Genocide

Seven years ago, on 3 August 2014, members of the terror organisation Daesh (commonly referred to as Islamic State or ISIL) launched a violent attack against Yazidis in Sinjar, Iraq. Daesh fighters killed hundreds, if not thousands of men. As part of the same campaign, Daesh fighters abducted boys to turn them into child soldiers and women and girls for sex slavery. Thousands of women and girls are still missing and their fate is unknown.

A few days after the attack on Sinjar, Daesh also attacked the Ninevah Plains and forced over 120,000 people to flee for their lives in the middle of the night. Daesh committed murder, enslavement, deportation and forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, torture, abduction of women and children, exploitation, abuse, rape, sexual violence and forced marriage. The atrocities have been recognised, at an international level, as crimes against humanity, war crimes and even genocide, the crime of crimes. The number of those killed by Daesh is still not known. Mass graves continue to be discovered. 

Marking the anniversary, our co-founder, Dr Ewelina Ochab, will be speaking at an event organised by Free Yezidi Foundation.

Register for the event here.