Azaranica is a non-biased news aggregator on Hazaras. The main aim is to promote understanding and respect for cultural identities by highlighting the realities they face on daily basis...Hazaras have been the victim of active persecution and discrimination and one of the reasons among many has been the lack of information, awareness, and disinformation.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BBC World Service: 'Hell on Earth': Inside Quetta's Hazara community

By Mobeen AzharBBC World Service
Ruqsana Bibi at the cemetary in Quetta where her sons are buried

For years Quetta in Pakistan has rarely been visited by foreign media organisations, as it is considered too dangerous. Now a World Service investigation has uncovered the reality of life for the city's persecuted Hazara Shia community in what some describe as "hell on earth".

On 10 January 2013, a suicide bomber walked into a packed snooker hall in Quetta and detonated an explosive device, marking the beginning of what would become the bloodiest day in Pakistan's recent history.

Eight people died in the initial blast and the area soon became flooded with people trying to help. A second bomb planted on an ambulance was then detonated.

The attacks killed more than 120 people, most of them from the Hazara Shia community, in a campaign strategically planned to inflict maximum carnage.

Quetta's Hazara community is on the front line of Pakistan's battle with violent extremism.

Ruqsana Bibi lost three of her four sons on that day. The walls of her modest home are filled with family pictures. She sits on the floor holding three frames. Each contains a picture of one of the children she lost.

"I ran to the mosque barefoot and I saw the bodies of my three sons. I kissed their faces. I carried them to the cemetery myself. The eldest was Khadim Husain. I said to him: 'You must take care of your brothers in the grave.' I don't know what happened to me then. People took me home."

Mrs Bibi says her grandsons, aged nine and five, are afraid that they too will be "martyred" one day.

"They say: 'Who are these people killing us?' Who are these people that are stirring up trouble between Sunnis and Shias? It didn't used to be like this."

Mrs Bibi's family, like almost all of the victims of the Quetta attacks, are Hazara.

Hazaras are ethnically Mongolian, with oriental features and light skin, different from much of Pakistan's population.

The vast majority of Hazaras are Shia Muslim and are therefore declared "heretics" by militant Sunni Islamist groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Quetta is home to more than half a million Hazara Shias, making them an easy target for Sunni extremists who want to punish their "heresy" with violence.

Five weeks after the attack on the snooker hall, another bomb was detonated in a crowded market place in Quetta, killing almost 90 people.

It happened as people, mainly women, were shopping for groceries and schoolchildren were coming out of their classes.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The group released a statement declaring that they planned to turn Quetta into "a graveyard for Shias".

Fighting for survival

The extreme violence in Quetta means many Hazaras feel pessimistic about their future in Pakistan. Nargis Ali, 19, was planning on going to Balochistan University, in Quetta.

But faced with the security risks, her parents have asked her to give up on academia.
A suicide bomber detonated his device in this Quetta snooker hall in January

"I got brilliant results but even the university staff say they cannot guarantee my safety. My parents really wanted me to study but they are just so scared of what will happen," she told the BBC.

"Education is the most important thing to me - but what choice do we have?"

Many young Hazaras have fled Quetta, in the hope of claiming asylum in Australia and Europe. It is estimated that 90% of those fleeing the violence do so illegally..... Continue Reading..

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