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Blood and Smoke

Bamiyan City, Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan

Although most Hazaras live in central Afghanistan, the mountainous and rugged land they refer to as Hazarajat, the Hazaras who have migrated to Kabul looking for work make up a large underclass, take jobs that other groups refuse – as bearers, street sweepers and other common laborers, the jobs that are referred to as “Hazara occupations.”

Kabul

Persecuted for centuries, the Hazaras, Shiite Muslims, and protectors of the Buddhist treasures in Bamiyan, have been persecuted, tortured, and slaughtered, but the ravages during the Taliban rule from 1996 – 2001, was only one chapter in the long, bleak history of discrimination and abuse inflicted on the Hazaras.

Kabul

Most people first heard of the Hazaras when the Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed. Three years later, they read about them in the bestselling, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, which was translated into 42 languages.

West Kabul
Kabul
Bamiyan
Bamiyan

 Some sources claim that Hazaras are the third largest ethnic group in the country with about 20 percent of the total population.

Bamiyan
Bamiyan
Bamiyan

An education official in Bamiyan commented to me that the Hazara’s history has been characterized by “blood and smoke.”

Bamiyan

Hazaras were sold as slaves as late as the 19th century, and
in the early part of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Hazaras were ordered to be killed in their homeland in the highlands of central Afghanistan.

Bamiyan
Bamiyan
Bamiyan
Bamiyan

In May, powerful explosions outside a high school in a Hazara neighborhood in Kabul, killed at least ninety and wounded scores more, many of them teenage girls leaving class, in a horrific attack that reinforced fears about the nation’s future after the U.S. troop withdrawal.

Kabul, Afghanistan

But even as the violence deters some students, many young Hazaras keep returning to classrooms. They have swept aside their fears and dread to pursue dreams of higher education in a country where attending class is an expression of faith amid a
climate of terror.
NYTimes – March 22, 2021

You can take our lives but you cannot take
education away from us.
– Hazara student

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Wabi Sabi: Beauty in Imperfection
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Musée Barbier-Mueller
Genéve, Switzerland
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Graz, Austria
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Trento, Italy
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Ernst Leitz Museum
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By Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

To read more about Steve go to www.stevemccurry.com/bio

10 replies on “Blood and Smoke”

Your work makes real this amazing country, people and the daunting issues they face daily. Thank you.

I first learned about the Hazaras about a month ago while reading a natgeo magazine from 2008 that we had home.It was really sad reading about the hardships they have been through with the Taliban.I hope the situation won’t get worse for them and generally for the Afganis with the current situation…

It’s such dreadful situation and the bombing at girl’s school near Syed Al-Shahda which killed and injured so many girls is just like a fresh unhealed scar although Talibans condemned of any such attack over civilians and denied responsibility. Now Hazaras will be in really pathetic situation without proper armed protection from defense staffs, without protection of fundamental human rights including the rights of women and girls, education and freedom of expression. We understand from seeing so many years of Taliban atrocities that they can never change their extremist ideology and will carry out everything to crush any aspirations of people to prosper. They want people to be ignorant so that no voice can be raised against them. While Hazaras will be especially vulnerable to extremist vengeance of Talibans so many young guys will again take up weapon to protect their families and ultimately this is going to give birth to a very chaotic and nasty civil war. Can’t understand how much more pain and anguish are waiting for Hazaras who are the beautiful soul of such a wonderful country like Afganistan. Praying for the well beings of Hazaras and all Afghan people. We don’t want anymore bloodshed and smoke of ammunition s, this journey is temporary and this life is meant to love all and there’s no place of hatred and atrocities in that 💔💔🙏🏼

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