Dear readers, this year, like previous years, the Hazaras of Sydney gathered to commemorate Baba Mazari’s martyrdom (on the 13th of March). I will soon write a report of this event with pictures and post it on this blog. The following is a speech written by me which was presented in this commemoration.
Besmellahe Rahmaane Rahim!
Respected guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you all for your presence in tonight’s event. Tonight we have gathered to commemorate a very unique and special day in our history. We have not gathered here to become sad and take nothing home with us but grief. The aim for this commemoration is far from spreading sadness or becoming sad. Its aim is rather to understand the reasons, the causes and the meaning of what happened in that day. So let’s use this as an opportunity for a wake up call and as a way to raise awareness about a people who belong to a history that experienced the worst atrocities that we can possibly think of.
Each year, throughout the world, the Hazara people come together on this day to remember a person by the name of Abdul Ali Mazari, who rose from this harsh and forgotten history. I believe that it would be impossible to understand or define his personality and vision without having a thorough knowledge about his people’s past. Abdul Ali Mazari rose from a history which is full of devastations, full of mothers crying for their dead and injured children, and those hungry orphans on the streets of Hazaristan.
When he was in Bamiyan, he was the leader of a political party, but after the fall of the communist regime when he moved to Kabul, he became the leader of a people. He became the leader of the Hazaras, that portion of the Afghan society that had been forcefully kept deprived of their basic rights as citizens of Afghanistan. His followers were the remnants of those who were tortured, oppressed and massacred throughout the last three hundred years in Afghanistan. His followers were the people whose 62% of their population was massacred in the 1880’s and 1890’s by Abdur Rahman.
His voice was louder than anyone in saying that ‘being a Hazara is not a crime’, and he fought for his people’s rights. He created an atmosphere where all Hazaras started forming one unity. Those Hazaras of Northern Afghanistan, who had to cover their Hazara identity in order to survive, were given the opportunity to remove the fake identity that centuries of oppression had forced them to use and once again return to their true identity. He was given the title of “Baba”, which means “father” or a “leader”.
Through Baba’s successful leadership and the strong bond that was created between him and his people, he was able to unite all Hazaras regardless of what they believed in. His followers are not just the Shia Hazaras, but there are also Sunni, Ismaili and even Communist Hazaras who proudly call themselves children and followers of Baba Mazari.
Baba Mazari believed that the first step to peace and prosperity is education. He felt the need for education as the key to solve many fundamental problems in Afghanistan. An educated society can come up with positive changes to eliminate their problems. He introduced new ideas to achieve a long lasting peace for Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, due to the allocated time limit, I am not able to talk about the political and social reforms that he introduced. However, to get a rough idea about Baba Mazari’s broad vision and his thoughts it would be helpful to go through the sentences in his speeches which were formed by words such as ‘justice’ ‘equality’, ‘brotherhood’ and ‘peace’.
Baba Mazari dreamed about a government where there is equal power sharing and equal rights among all the ethnic groups that reside in Afghanistan. But quite sadly, he was left alone as there were not many who appreciated what he was after. He constantly criticised and opposed those who encouraged war and those who ignored religious and cultural tolerance and acceptance. He believed that the initial step in achieving a long lasting peace in Afghanistan is for all the ethnicities that form the Afghan society to accept and tolerate each other.
Ladies and gentlemen, fifteen years ago, Baba Mazari became the first leader in Afghanistan to be assassinated by the barbaric regime of the Taliban. It was a great loss that can never be replaced. However, that was just the commencement of the movement and the vision that Baba started. We all know that he could ignore some of the principles that his thoughts and actions were based on in order to convince himself to run and survive. But to him such a life would have been meaningless. He was bound to his principles until his last breath.
Tonight we are commemorating the day when he sacrificed his life by fighting till the last drop of his blood to protect us and to defend our rights. Baba let the unheard cries of the people of Hazarstan reach those who were willing to listen. He felt all the oppressions and hardships that our people had gone through in the past few hundred years.
Baba Mazari has left us a great responsibility, a responsibility that requires hard work, patience and courage to continue his path and to keep his mission alive. As the new generation we will continue to participate and playing our individual roles in taking positive steps towards a bright future while remembering who we are and the history that we belong to.
Years of war and conflicts in our country has scattered us all around the globe. Looking back in the past, despite all these difficulties and obstacles, I can proudly point out the fact that our people have always been productive, creative and respectful members of any society that they have become part of.
There are many of us, who are living outside Afghanistan, and some of us are lucky to be in countries such as Australia, where there is a fair go for everyone and everyone is treated with equality. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the majority of our people are still living in Afghanistan. They are still suffering and they are in need for our support. It is our responsibility to let their voices be heard through us.
Acting according to Baba Mazari’s teachings will allow us to unite our individual efforts and achieve something bigger, something more meaningful and valuable, or in other words, valuing the struggles and the efforts that our ancestors put into creating a better future for us.
Baba Mazari’s name has become a symbol of unity and brotherhood amongst us. When we hear his name, it reminds us of the three hundred years of struggles by our ancestors for a better future for the coming generations. A future where being a Hazara is not seen as a crime, a future where a Hazara person can plan his or her future without fear and without discrimination.
Today, Baba Mazari has become part of who we are, he has become part of our identity. His appearance in our history is certainly a valuable gift for us. He brought us ‘hope’ and the only source that fuels our enthusiasm and our passion to continue his path is for this ‘hope’.
Thank you for your attention.