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Sunday, January 26, 2014

A state of siege


MADEEHA SYED

Updated 2014-01-26 18:07:04

Madeeha Syed speaks to Human Rights Watch's Ali Dayan Hasan about the state and predicament of the Hazara in Quetta

A year after the deadly attacks on the Hazara community, what is the situation now?

While Shias across Pakistan have faced increasingly vicious attacks, a disproportionate number of attacks - the latest being the Jan 21st attack on a pilgrim’s bus in Mastung - have targeted the small Hazara community. Of Shias killed across Pakistan in 2012, around a quarter of the victims were Quetta Hazaras. In 2013, a little under half of those killed were from that community. It is true that major attacks on the scale of January and February 2013 have not taken place since last year. But major attacks are only one aspect of the crisis faced by the community. Survivors and family members of victims describe the effects of a campaign of killings that has targeted all segments of the Hazara community. Hazaras live a ghetto existence, fearful of going about the normal business of life. Hazara religious pilgrims, students, shopkeepers, vegetable sellers, doctors and other professionals have been targeted leading to not just widespread fear but increasingly restricted movement leading to a ghettoisation of community members, increasing economic hardship and curtailed access to education.

How many are opting to flee their homes? And where are they going?

Large numbers are fleeing Pakistan in panic and seeking asylum abroad, even risking their lives in the process. Unable to cope with death stalking them at every turn, many hundreds have fled Quetta for Karachi or other parts of Pakistan. Yet further hundreds have fled Pakistan altogether. Those fleeing usually seek to go to Australia risking a dangerous sea journey that has repeatedly proved fatal. In April 2013, some 60 Hazaras died when their boat sunk in Indonesian waters enroute Australia. These journeys are not only dangerous and expensive, they are often deadly. Almost 1,000 people have died on the crossing from Indonesia to Australia over the last decade — scores of them Hazaras from Pakistan... Continue Reading....

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