Posted: 18 February 2013
The Pakistan authorities must do more to protect the persecuted Shi’a Hazara minority community, Amnesty International said following a devastating attack in Quetta that killed scores.
On Saturday at least 84 people, mostly Shi’a Hazaras, were killed when a bomb exploded in a vegetable market in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.
Responsibility for the bombing was claimed by the anti-Shi’a armed group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). LeJ also claimed responsibility for a series of bombings targeting Hazaras in Quetta on 10 January, which claimed more than 90 lives.
Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director, said:
“These attacks demonstrate Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s utter disregard for human rights and basic principles of humanity.
“Also shocking is the continued failure of the authorities to bring to justice any of those responsible for committing these killings, or inciting others to carry them out.
“The failure to bring these perpetrators to justice sends the signal that they can continue to commit these outrageous abuses with impunity.
“The last two months have been the worst on record for Quetta’s beleaguered Hazara community. In fact, the attacks in January and February constitute some of the worst killings in Pakistan’s recent history.
“The Pakistani authorities must be held accountable for their failure to protect Quetta’s Hazara community and the population at large.”
Amnesty has documented 91 separate attacks on Shi’as across Pakistan since January 2012, resulting in around 500 fatalities. Hazaras are disproportionately represented in these chilling statistics – at least half of the fatalities come from the Hazara community, one of the smallest in Pakistan.
The authorities have a poor record for prosecuting people who incite attacks on people on the basis of their religious beliefs, including prominent leaders of groups like LeJ.