Kamran Mir Hazar Talk at the Asian Congress of the World Poetry Movement
Dear Fellow Poets in Asia and Across the Globe, Dear Coordinators of the World Poetry Movement, and Directors of International Poetry Festivals
First, I would like to pay my respect to all Hazara victims of ongoing genocide, ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, and discrimination. All members of the Hazara stateless nation are now struggling and trying to #StopHazaraGenocide. On behalf of the World Poetry Movement – Hazaristan, I would like to ask the global poetry community to stand with the Hazara like before by writing poems about the past, present, and future of the Hazara and Hazaristan in their native languages.
I also want to express my solidarity with the neighboring ethnicities and communities, such as the Uzbek, Tajik, Turkmen, Baloch, and Nooristani. We are the victims of the ongoing long-term deadly strategies to be eliminated from our homeland, for instance, forcing the Turkic of South Turkestan to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, Tajiks to Tajikistan, the Hazara of Hazaristan to graveyards, and the rest, to be the servants of the racial hegemony.
Here, I also wish to pay my respect to the victims of the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
We are here to have poetry, not as a vehicle to carry things but as the spiritual ground to migrate from death to life.
Dear Fellow Poets,
It is very challenging to communicate with the world of politicians, a world with many conflicting interests and hypocrisy. I’ve seen many times politicians talking about democracy and human rights but later sitting next to terrorists and dictators, laughing and making decisions about the fate of millions of victims. I’ve seen many times how members of oppressive groups and regimes play on both sides, abusing the rights of others and, at the same time, pretending to be defenders of human rights and democracy that deserve to be Nobel Peace Prize winners.
The war against the native peoples in the Central and South Asia region started at least two centuries ago with the forced displacement of the Hazara. Then in the early and late 19th century, the genocide of over 60% of the Hazara, Hazara slavery, and invading the Hazara land Hazaristan, from the very south to the north. Then they went after other neighboring peoples. Finally, they could occupy Hazaristan, South Turkestan, and the shared cultural-historical Khorasan.
So-called Afghanistan appeared on the maps following the tragedies and systematic crimes against the native peoples. The oppressive regimes, politically, financially, and militarily backed by the British governments, committed all sorts of crimes, from burning people and books written in the language of natives to jailing children, women, and men. Victims suffered all levels of oppression, including ideological institutional, interpersonal, and internal oppression.
As part of the persecution policy, the natives were forced to accept a fake and injected identity called Afghan. They also were forced to be considered minorities based on nothing, no reliable data, but hypocrisy, force, and violence.
Those misleading narratives have become so dominant that even today, international human rights organizations and well-known researchers sometimes cannot distinguish when investigating the roots of such crimes and the current critical human rights situation.
The genocide of the Hazara is not only the physical elimination of the Hazara, those acts mentioned in the second article of the genocide convention but also cultural genocide. The worldwide poets state in their open letter dated the 21st of March 2017 that “destroying Hazara history and promoting an inaccurate, demeaning history of their culture have been further strategies, in addition to violent crimes.” While the Hazara have been facing genocide, the identity of many cultural and literary Hazara figures was stolen and presented as those related to others, not the Hazara. The attackers and invaders banned celebrating the new year, called Nawruz. They destroyed two most famous masterpieces of humanity’s oral and intangible heritage, the female and male buddhas in Bamiyan Hazaristan. In our native Hazara language, we call the female Buddha, Khonok Bot, the cold, and the male Buddha, Sorkh Bot, the hot, both of them representing love, kindness, and loyalty.
In the 21st century, the Hazara native and stateless nation still suffer the same crimes. The only difference is that the criminals of the 19th century reemerged, some as suicide bombers and some while enjoying ethnic privilege as political lobbyists in the international environment.
We tried to reform society and take it from the middle age to a human-centric era by respecting and promoting diversity, and human rights, including women’s rights. We formed social and civil movements, such as the Hazara Enlightenment Movement, offering flowers, poetry, education for all, music, and love. However, the response we received was more marginalization and oppression at all levels, in addition to attacks on our schools, clubs, clinics, and our every sort of gathering. For instance, On the 23rd of July 2016, when the Hazara Enlightenment Movement had a peaceful protest in Kabul, the corrupt Afghani government isolated the rally in one part of the city by security forces and putting containers on the roads. Then some Afghani suicide bombers killed and injured hundreds of the Hazara peaceful protesters. Last year, in September 2022, they attacked a Hazara education center called Kajj Education center and killed dozens of our children, primarily girls. As such, crimes are too many.
So, what was or what is the reaction of the international community, including world political leaders and international organizations? Maybe saying “NOTHING” is not the correct answer when the whole country and most of the military equipment of NATO and the USA left for suicide bombers. Those suicide bombers formed a government based on one ethnicity and one gender, the male. They follow racial hegemony and ban women entirely from social, cultural, economic, and political activities. From the lens of intersectionality, women from native communities are in a weaker position. Those suicide bombers even forbid writing and reading poetry that does not obey their racial hegemony.
And yes, we also see some poor statements from the international community, first, ignoring the identity of victims based on misleading dominant narratives and second, ignoring the international community’s responsibility regarding conventions such as the genocide convention.
Dear Poets in Asia and Dear Poets Across the Globe,
The history of Hazaristan in the past and its contemporary history also have another side. That side is marked by Hazara resistance, uprising, protests, civil movements, cyber activism, and promoting human rights and equality. In the last months since October 2022, after the bloody attack on our schoolgirls, over 30+ million tweets were posted containing the hashtag #StopHazaraGenocide.
We protested in over 120 cities in different countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Germany, England, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, The United States, Canada, and Brazil. Those protests, while raising the flag of Hazaristan, are to raise global awareness toward rewriting history, stopping the Hazara genocide, and reverse engineering oppression.
That side of our history also has poetry and literature, folklore, tales, and the native narratives passed from one generation to another to keep history, culture, and identity alive. As the Japanese poet Ban’ya Natsuishi explains, “The Hazara people of central Asia overlapped various cultures; they enriched our civilization.
We have thousands of folk poems, thousands of proverbs, and hundreds of folktales. Those are besides our classical, solid literature, such as the poems of our great poet Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi Rumi.
Today, our entire community, including poets, writers, journalists, activists, and artists, are forced to be silent. They cannot have gatherings or publish and express themselves freely under the rule of suicide bombers. In the last two-three decades, many of them were jailed, kidnapped, threatened, killed, or injured. Many of them have been forced to leave the country. Some live paperless in Pakistan or Iran, and some as asylum seekers and refugees in other countries.
At this point, organizing many in critical security situations or stressful asylum processes is challenging. We at World Poetry Movement – Hazaristan initiated contacts and had some initial online meetings discussing how to organize and gather our poets who are scattered across the globe.
We also discussed starting Hazaristan Press as a publisher with a mission to make the books of our poets and writers available to readers in different countries and languages and global poetry in our native language.
In recent years, we managed to publish the poetry anthology Poems for the Hazara, which includes the contributions of 125 international poets from 68 countries dedicated to the Hazara. We also released two open letters signed by hundreds of international poets to support the Hazara and one signed by international poets and some PEN clubs to support the Hazara poets, writers, activists, and journalists living in a critical security situation.
We plan to have poetry workshops for those interested in writing professionally and learning about our classical and modern poetry, besides modern and contemporary world poetry.
Those things take time; however, we know we need them, and we know that we are connected to a network of professional poets worldwide via the World Poetry Movement. That is very helpful as our aim at the World Poetry Movement is to migrate from death to life.
Kamran Mir Hazar is a Hazara poet, editor, activist, and information system specialist from Hazaristan.