The Afghan State and the Hazara Genocide

56 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2023

See all articles by Mehdi J. Hakimi

Mehdi J. Hakimi

Harvard University - Harvard Law School; Stanford Law School

Date Written: July 20, 2023


Hazaras in Afghanistan have been increasingly killed during premeditated attacks on hospitals, schools, places of worship, public transportation, work sites, weddings, sports clubs, markets, cultural events, social gatherings, and properties in the past few years alone. The recent wave of terror targeting this community, however, is not a new phenomenon. Rather, the assaults on Hazaras have deep historical antecedents, dating back to the late nineteenth century when Afghan ruler Amir Abdur Rahman Khan carried out a campaign of mass violence against this ethnic group, resulting in massacres, enslavement, and forced displacement of approximately sixty percent of Hazaras. Understanding the current plight of Hazaras thus necessitates investigating the enduring state-sanctioned persecution of this community.

This Article contributes to the literature by undertaking the first examination of the historical mass atrocities against Hazaras in light of international criminal law. In particular, the analysis provides a reasonable basis to believe that the Afghan state’s operations and policies against this group during the 1890’s constituted genocide, as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Bona fide endeavors to curb the longstanding culture of impunity and cycles of bloodshed in Afghanistan require reckoning with the darkest episodes of Afghan history, whose shadow continues to loom large over the present. It is long past time to officially recognize the Hazara genocide.

Keywords: International Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law, Genocide Convention, Rome Statute, International Criminal Court, ICC, International Court of Justice, ICJ, Hazara, Afghanistan, Genocide

Suggested Citation

Hakimi, Mehdi J., The Afghan State and the Hazara Genocide (July 20, 2023). Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol. 37 (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN:

Mehdi J. Hakimi (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Law School

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