The Hazaras, a Shiite minority in Afghanistan, fear for their future under Taliban rule. The mass killings of Hazara civilians occurred under the former Taliban regime in the 1990s. Also in 2001, in Bamiyan, the predominantly Hazara province that is their cultural capital, two world-famous Buddha statues were destroyed.
A video clip circulated on social media in November showing Taliban fighters using the Buddha statue area, a rocky hill lined with ancient caves with murals, as a shooting range. A picture that not only hurts the Hazara, but also terrifies.
“In 2001 we heard the Taliban say that Buddhas are against Islam,” archaeologist Morteza Ahmadi told photographer Amir Jan, who photographed in Bamiyan on behalf of the NOS at the end of November. And this video shows that the Taliban are still hostile to the images.”
Attack on cultural diversity
According to Ahmadi, there are many legends about the statues. Locally it is believed to represent two lovers, Shamama and Salsal. “Anyone who has seen the faces of these Buddhas knows that they have the characteristics of the indigenous people of this region, and therefore are part of the history and identity of the Bamiyan people.”
The destruction of the images was seen as an attack on the Hazara minority and cultural diversity in Afghanistan. Around the same time, human rights groups say large-scale killings of civilians took place in a remote part of the province.
Pictures of the Buddha statues being blown up have spread around the world:
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