Thursday, May 23, 2013

Who The Hell Are The Hazara?

A lot of ethnic and religious groups have been persecuted in some way over the years. ...well, really, very nearly every group has gotten it at one point or another in one place or another. But some get persecuted more than others. On Tuesday- while I was getting myself back to Wisconsin- Jeffrey Stern of The Atlantic provided a look into life as a member of the Hazara people, whom he pegs as one of the most persecuted groups on Earth.

Following his walkthrough, it's hard to disagree with the assessment. Originally based out of Mongolia, the Hazara, who now modernly consider Afghanistan their homeland (with a sizable community in Quetta, Pakistan), have repeatedly been on the wrong end of the various conflicts of the Middle East over the years, singled out for not looking like everyone else (because they look Mongolian, which isn't part of the Middle East at all), repeatedly chased out of their homes and the countries where they've made camp, scattered to the four winds, and a splinter group has now found itself trapped in Syria, where they're getting shelled by both sides of the ongoing civil war for supposedly supporting the other side. Those attempting to get out of the region entirely are typically aiming for Australia or Europe... but they have to get there first, often in leaky boats. And they have to actually be declared legal, or refugees seeking asylum, which in Australia is far from a certain proposition. About 90% make the trek as illegal immigrants, but given that there's every risk of getting killed waiting to cross legally and that there's little difference in one's safety either way, whether they're legal or not is the least of their concerns. The choice between illegal and alive, and legal and dead, isn't really a choice at all.

If that last part reminds anyone of Ciudad Juarez, even though this is more targeted and more widespread, I wouldn't blame you. Quetta, a border town near Afghanistan, effectively works the same way.

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