Afghanistan: thousands protest Hazara beheadings

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Kabul on Nov. 11 with coffins carrying the bodies of seven ethnic Hazara, demanding justice after their beheadings. Afghan security forces fired warning shots into the air as the protest funeral approached the presidential palace, injuring seven. Today they kill us, tomorrow they kill you," protesters chanted. Others carried banners bearing photos of the victims and shouted "Death to the Taliban!" Some also shouted "Death to Ashraf Ghani!" and "Death to Abdullah Abdullah!"—Afghanistan's president and chief executive, respectively. The seven Hazara civilians—including two women and a nine-year-old girl—had been abducted by presumed Taliban militants a month ago in Ghazni province. The decapitated bodies were found in neighboring Zabul province. (See map.) 

Zabul has been the scene of fighting between Taliban and ISIS factions in recent days, and it is unclear which group was responsible for the killings. Provinicial leaders have blamed ISIS. 

Many women participated in the march—some breaking with tradition to help carry the coffins. It was the biggest march in Kabul since the mob killing in March of a young woman, Farkhunda, who was falsely accused of burning the Koran. The crowd was ethnically mixed—Hazaras as well as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Pashtuns. Protesters called for Ghani's resignation, accusing him of abandoning large sections of the country to the militants. "For too long, we have been buried in silence," said Mohamad Ishaq Mowahidi, one of the protest organizers. "The logical way is for us to submit the coffins as a gift to the government." (Revolution News, BBC News, NYT)