Updated: Nov 3
On September 30th, 2022, a suicide blast at an education center in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of western Kabul killed 53 and wounded more than 110. Students were taking a practice exam at a private education center when the attack occurred. According to a male student who survived the blast, there were hundreds of students in the classroom, but most of the casualties were among girls, who were seated at the front row. No group has claimed the attack.
Dasht-e-Barchi is a region of western Kabul populated by the Hazara ethnic minority, who are often targeted by the Taliban and the regional affiliate of the ‘Islamic State’. The Hazara are the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and mostly observe Shia Islam, which the ‘Islamic’ State and the Taliban both condemn. The Hazara community have been attacked continually in the past decades and they think framing this atrocity merely as an attack on education is not enough.
Dozens of Hazara women took to the streets of Dasht-e-Barchi after the attack to protest and were fired upon by the Taliban. The public anger spread to Bamyan, Herat, and Balkh provinces and was responded to with disproportionate violence. In Herat, hundreds of women from Herat University were attacked by the Taliban when peacefully protesting for their right to education and safety. Female university students who were leading the protests against the Taliban regime were merely demanding an end to systematic state violence and discrimination against the Hazara people, chanting “Security is our right! Education is our right! Stop genocide!”.
Taliban security forces confront women protesting continued attacks on the Hazara, day after the blast. Photo credits: CBS News
Academic freedom and the right to education has rapidly deteriorated under the Taliban rule, especially for women and girls. As Karen Decker, Charge d'Affaires at the US mission to Afghanistan, stated, “Targeting a room full of students taking exams is shameful; all students should be able to pursue an education in peace and without fear”.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide, stands by the student and scholars of Afghanistan whose academic and personal lives have been incredibly precarious since the Taliban takeover. We at the ESW condemn the infringement of rights to education and freedom of assembly, especially for women, religious and ethnic minorities. ESW calls on the international community to give full attention to the persecution of women and the Hazara community in Afghanistan. We condemn the Taliban’s decision to refuse women and girls above the sixth grade an opportunity to go to school. In order to support Afghan scholars, students, and civilians around the world, we have compiled a list of resources available through the New University in Exile Consortium and the larger academic and activist communities.