Related post: Baba Abdul Ali Mazari – A Shia Hazara but a Global Father
Last week, the Afghan nation in general, and the Shia Hazara community in Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular, commemorated the 15th anniversary of martyrdom of Abdul Ali Mazari, the former head of Afghanistan’s Hezbe Wahdat (Unity Party).
Fifteen years ago, on 13 March 1995, Baba Mazari, along with nine of his associates was martyred by Taliban terrorists who hated him because of his religious (Shia Muslim), ethnic (Hazara) and linguistic (Farsi) identity.
Under Hujjatul Islam Abdul Ali Mazari’s leaership, Hizb-e Wahdat took the form of a political Islamist party. In a way the formation of the party was the culmination of political power and unity of the Hazara anti-Soviet resistance groups in Afghanistan. The process was accompanied by the gradual rise to dominance of the clergy in the political leadership of the region. By unifying under the new name they further consolidated their political dominance. The Wahdat manifesto emphasized the continuation and intensification of efforts for the creation of an Islamic welfare government based on equality and justice. It called for further efforts to incorporate all other genuine Shia groups into the party and to act in solidarity with Sunnis and other religious and ethnic groups of Afghanistan. The language of the manifesto clearly indicates that Wahdat was pro-unity organization, comprising several references to solidarity and cooperation with the Sunni organizations. It demanded an equal status for Shiite jurisprudence alongside the Hanafi school, dominant among Sunnis in the country. As a religious political party, Hizb-e Wahdat can be credited with an openness and inclusiveness exceptional in a conservative society like Afghanistan. In an exceptional move among the Afghan mujahedin, the party included ten women members in its central council and had devoted an entire committee for women’s affairs that was headed by a university-educated Hazara woman.
Kabul: A large number of Afghans gathered in west Kabul on 12 March 2010 to commemorate Abdul Ali Mazari’s fifteenth anniversary.
On Friday, 12 March 2010, tens of thousands of people gathered in west of Kabul to commemorate his fifteenth anniversary, which was participated by vice-presidents, Qasim Fahim and Mohammad Karim Khalili, the leader of People’s Unity Party of Afghanistan, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, former presidential candidate, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, cabinet members and members of two houses of national assembly.
Quetta: 15th Martyrdom Anniversary of Baba Mazari was commemorated with reverence under the joint auspices of Tanzeem Nasl e Nau Hazara Mughul and Mazari Foundation in Quetta, Pakistan. The Anniversary was attended by the representative of the Consul General of Afghanistan in Quetta, Murtaza Khurami, representative of Afghan communities, Pushtoons and Tajiks in Quetta and many intellectuals and professionals
Remembering Baba Mazari’s political ideology
The speakers and participants recommitted themselves to Shaheed Mazari’s inspirational and noble ideals of “social justice”, “national unity”, “non-discrimination” and “equality and brotherhood among Afghan people”.
Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, the leader of People’s Unity Party of Afghanistan, said that Shaheed Mazari introduced “new concepts” in Afghanistan’s political literature.
Baba Mazari is remembered as the “martyr of national unity” or “harbinger and architect of social justice” as, when Afghanistan was going through internal conflicts, which stemmed from monopolization of power and political rights by some Jihadi groups, he vigorously voiced that social justice, fair participation of all ethnics of Afghanistan in political process and national unity are the solution to the problem facing the country.
With regards to national unity, Shaheed Mazari forcefully said, “we hold national unity in Afghanistan as a principle.” Shaheed Mazari posited citizen rights in the country, advancing the idea that all people of Afghanistan should equally enjoy their citizen rights.
In 1990s, Shaheed Mazari was one of great architects and advocates of democratic system in Afghanistan. In this respect, Mazari clearly said:
“we see elections the only solution to the problem of Afghanistan… we believe that elections should be completely free so that all Afghan people could participate in it. We reject exclusiveness in its all forms and fashions, and are in favor of participation of all Afghans, including woman, man, old and young…to determine their political destiny. It is not fair that men be entitled to participate in elections and women be deprived of their suffrage or their rights to vote in elections.”
Shaheed Mazari initiated a new discourse in political arena of Afghanistan to change the long-standing power relations in Afghanistan between Shias and Sunnis and Hazaras and other groups that had been based on exclusiveness, monopoly and despotism.
He denounced the atrocities and injustices done on disadvantaged ethnics throughout the history of Afghanistan and believed that there should not be sense of superiority or inferiority any longer. He believed that in order to establish permanent peace, it is important to denounce the past injustices and ensure fair participation of all Afghan people, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, religion and language.
Biography of Abdul Ali Mazari
Abdul Ali Mazari (1946 – 13 March 1995) was the head and co-founder of the Hezbe Wahdat (Unity Party) during and following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Mazari was a leading Shiite scholar and an ethnic Hazara. He believed the solution to the divisiveness in Afghanistan was in federalism, where every ethnic and religious group would have specific constitutional rights.
Mazari’s philosophy is still relevant as he believed that the only solution to Afghanistan’s conflicts, issues and civil war is a central government that recognizes and accepts every ethnic group’s civil and political rights, (the rights to life, protection against violence, to education, to economic opportunities available to others, to have representation in government and to be treated equally before law without any discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, political belief, religion and language).
Mazari was a strong voice in Afghanistan against those who excluded Hazaras because of their ethnicity, race, language or religion.
He insisted that Afghanistan should have a government that allowed everyone to participate in its affairs regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, religion and language.
He was the first Afghan political leader who fought for minorities rights and a federal democratic government. He also, argued that Afghanistan is a nation of diverse ethnicity, so it was imperative for all ethnic groups to live peacefully with each other by removing the racial, religious and cultural discrimination against the Hazaras and other minorities and women.
He reminded Hazara people of the injustice done to them in the last 100 years by the dominant ethnic group that created disharmony amongst Hazaras. Mazari was determined not to allow a repeat of the history of Afghanistan when Abdur Rahman Khan (the former Afghan king who was Pashtun) killed 66% of Hazara population during his ruling period from 1840s-1891.
Mazari, also stood against the Al-Qaeda and the terrorist sub-sections of Taliban, who tried to repeat what Abdur Rahman had done to massacre Hazaras.
Mazari was affectionately named by the Hazaras as “Baba Mazari” (father Mazari).
After the takeover of Kabul by Taliban (backed by Pakistan’s ISI), Mazari was invited by the Taliban regime in 1995 for political talks. However, instead of talks, Taliban deceitfully captured their guest and killed him ruthlessly along with his aides.
Ustad Abdul Ali Mazari was born in the village of Charkent, south of the northern city of Mazari Sharif. Hence, his surname is “Mazari”. He began his primary schooling in theology at the local school in his village, then went to Mazari Sharif, then Qom in Iran, and then to Najaf in Iraq. He was known not only as a great Shia scholars by Hazars and non-Hazaras alike. His personality was much beyond petty ethnic politics. As a political leader and Shia Muslim scholar, his message was that of Shia-Sunni unity, paeace and Islamic progressive ideals.
Resistance against Soviet rule in Afghanistan
With the occupation of Afghanistan by the Red Army, Abdul Ali Mazari returned to his birthplace and gained a prominent place in the anti-Soviet resistance movement. During the first years of the resistance, he lost his young brother, Mohammed Sultan, during a battle against the Soviet-backed forces. He soon lost his sister and other members of his family in the resistance. His uncle, Mohammad Ja’afar, and his son, Mohammad Afzal, were imprisoned and killed by the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan. He also lost his father, Haji Khudadad, and his brother, Haji Mohammad Nabi, in the rebellion and resistance movement.
Abdul Ali Mazari was one of the founding members and the first leader of the Shia Muslims’ Hezbe Wahdat (Unity Party). In the first Congress of the party, he was elected leader of the Central Committee. During the second Congress, he was elected Secretary General of the Wahdat Party. Mazari’s initiative led to the creation of the Jonbesh-e Shamal (Northern Movement), in which the country’s most significant military forces joined ranks with the rebels, leading to a coup d’état and the eventual downfall of the regime in Kabul.
The fall of Kabul to the Mujahideen marked the start of the Afghan Civil War between various factions, parties and ethnic groups. During this period, Mazari led the forces of Hezbe Wahdat who were based in West Kabul. More than twenty-six fierce battles were fought against Hezbe Wahdat by the forces of Shora-e-Nezar, Abdur Rasool Sayyaf and Taliban. Sometimes the relation of Mazari with the general Abdul Rashid Dostum was quite neutral, sometimes he was an ally, depending on the situation. The result was total destruction of Kabul city and the death of more than 50,000 civilians.
More than 900 civilians were massacred in the Hazara-dominated district of Afshar in Kabul and many more in Karte Seh by the invading forces of Ahmad Shah Masoud, and Abdur Rasool Sayyaf.
Taliban betrayal and Mazari’s murder
Mullah Burjan, the Taliban leader, requested a personal meeting with Mazari. On 12 March 1995, Mazari set off towards Chahar Asiyab in the company of a group of the Central Committee members in a convoy of two cars, whereupon they were betrayed, disarmed and arrested. A Western journalist photographed Mazari with tied hands and feet. On March 13 1995, Mazari along with nine of his followers were murdered by the Taliban. They threw him out of a helicopter midair in Ghazni province, but later they claimed that Mazari and his companions tried to escape while being transferred in helicopters to Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold. His body was found in Ghazni. Soon after his death, his forces were disarmed, and the whole of West Kabul came under Taliban rule.
The violent death of Mazari stunned his followers and allies. His followers carried his body from Ghazni to Bamiyan on foot; from there it was flown to Mazar-i-Shariff on a helicopter for burial. Dostum, representatives of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Mujahdidi attended the funeral services of Mazari. A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of Iran called Mazari, a martyr. Foreign Minister Ali Akber Velayati condemned the killing of Mazari and blamed the Taliban for the continuation of bloodshed in Afghanistan.
Demographic composition of Afghanistan
Source: CIA Factbook
Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%
Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism
1. “Afghanistan rocked by northern bombing”. Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
2. Mazari, Abdul Ali (1995 (1374 AH)) Iḥyā-yi huvyyat: majmū‘ah-’i sukhanrānīha-yi shahīd-i mazlūm … Ustād ‘Abd ‘Ali Mazāri (rah) (Resurrecting Identity: The collected speeches of Abdul Ali Mazari) Cultural Centre of Writers of Afghanistan, Sirāj, Qum, Iran, OCLC 37243327
3. Abdul Ali Mazari Biography, Basir Ahmad Dowlatabadi, Qum, Iran
4. From Mazar to Mazari , Hablolah Magazine, 1996
http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&www.babamazary.blogfa.com – Tabaro-Baghe-Gole-Sorkh – Poetry about Abdul Ali Mazari
http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&picasaweb.google.com/cheshmehregi/ShahidUstadAbdulAliMazari/ – Picture gallery