Should I continue? Okay.
The Hazara people have suffered more than a century of constant persecution because of their religious beliefs, their ethnicity and their physical and facial characteristics.
At the end of the 19th century, thousands, if not millions, of Hazara were massacred, forcibly uprooted and sold into slavery by the Emir of Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman Khan.
Through royal decrees, he openly labelled Hazaras as “heretic foreigners”. This paved the way for persecution that continues to this day.
In 1998, the Taliban issued a similar decree continuing that campaign by killing thousands of Hazaras in the cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Bamiyan alone.
In post-9/11 Afghanistan, Hazaras continue to be the subject of daily attacks, be it within the sanctuary of religious places, in gymnasiums, in the streets or on public buses. Attacks such as the May 2020 assault on the Médecins sans frontières maternity ward in Kabul's Dasht-e-Barchi, where infants still in incubators were targeted, or the May 2021 attack on the Sayed Al-Shuhada, all-girls school where as many as 94 young girls died, have proven that Hazaras are a target regardless of age or gender.
To put it simply, the life of a Hazara in Afghanistan is that of a death row inmate living on borrowed time, awaiting an impending execution.
For years around the globe and indeed across this nation, coast to coast to coast, Hazaras have cried for help. We humbly request to this committee, and through it, the Canadian Parliament, to, first, formally recognize the 1891-93 ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Hazara as a genocide; second, designate September 25 as a Hazara genocide memorial day; and, third, support Bill C-287 to ensure that all development assistance sent from Canada to Afghanistan is contributing to the peace and security of the region for all peoples.
At this point, Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the committee once more for giving me the opportunity to testify before you today.
My thanks also go to the three highly distinguished individuals representing our association. We have with us Dr. Melissa Kerr Chiovenda, assistant professor of anthropology, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Dr. William Maley, emeritus professor of diplomacy at the Australian National University.
We also have Dr. Niamatullah Ibrahimi, lecturer in international relations at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.