Relentless Atrocities: The Persecution of Hazaras

84 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2022

See all articles by Mehdi J. Hakimi

Mehdi J. Hakimi

Harvard University - Harvard Law School; Stanford Law School

Date Written: May 27, 2022


As one of the main ethnic groups in Afghanistan, Hazaras are Farsi-speaking and mostly Shi’a Muslims in a predominantly Sunni Muslim country. They are also distinguishable by their Asiatic appearance. Hazaras have suffered considerably under various regimes throughout Afghanistan’s history by enduring, inter alia, recurring massacres, enslavement, and forced displacement. The plight of Hazaras has not improved despite Afghanistan’s accession to the Rome Statute in 2003. Indeed, the assaults on Hazaras have intensified in recent years, targeting virtually every aspect of their lives.

This Article argues that the recent and ongoing attacks against Hazaras constitute a crime against humanity. In particular, I show—element by element—that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the assaults on Hazaras amount to persecution based on ethnic and religious grounds pursuant to Article 7(1)(h) of the Rome Statute. The International Criminal Court (ICC) and the global community must take urgent actions to investigate the relentless atrocities against Hazaras and hold the perpetrators accountable. Failure to do so, as echoed by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, may lead to a full-blown genocide.

The Article proceeds in four Parts. Part I contextualizes the discussion with a brief history of some earlier atrocities perpetrated against Hazaras. Part II examines the recent and ongoing attacks on Hazaras which fall within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Part III analyzes the crime against humanity of persecution under the Rome Statute and the requisite evidentiary standard to launch a formal probe. Part IV applies the relevant legal framework to the situation of Hazaras and shows that the persecution of Hazaras has been and continues to be committed with impunity.

Keywords: International Law, Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law, Rome Statute, International Criminal Court, ICC, Crimes Against Humanity, Persecution, Hazara, Afghanistan, Genocide

Suggested Citation

Hakimi, Mehdi J., Relentless Atrocities: The Persecution of Hazaras (May 27, 2022). Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 44 (2022 Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: or

Mehdi J. Hakimi (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Law School

1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Stanford Law School

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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