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Pakistani Activist Khudi Ali Killed in Bombings Targeting Hazaras

Categories: Pakistan, Ethnicity & Race, Human Rights

On 10 January, 2013 in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta, 82 people lost their lives [1] in back-to-back bombings that hit an area populated primarily by ethnic Hazara Shia Muslims. [2]

Irfan Khudi Ali, [3] a prominent human rights activist who tirelessly highlighted the persecution of Hazara Shia in Pakistan, passed away in the second attack.

Vigil for @khudiali in Islamabad. Picture by @ali_abbas_zaidi [4]

Vigil for @khudiali in Islamabad. Picture by @ali_abbas_zaidi

On Twitter, Ali reported narrowly escaping the first bombing in Quetta:  [5]

@khudiali : #Quetta, was on the way to home nearly escaped from bomb blast 11 ppl dead.

Maria Memon tweeted: [6]

Ali cldnt survive the 2nd blast tonite.RIP @khudiali [3] RT @khudiali [3] #Quetta [7],was on the way to home nearly escaped 4m bomb blast 11 ppl dead

His killing has sparked a tribute to his struggle and reignited protests on Shia killings in Pakistan. Ali's last tweet [8] was a report from the ground regrading the migration of Hazaras as a result of persecution:

@khudiali #Hazara families of #Machh [9],Khuzdir finally succumbed to the genocidal pressure&moving out. Sad day for diversity in #Balochistan [10].

Irfan Ali during a protest against sectarian violence in Islamabad, September 2012. FRom the Facebook page of Pakistan Youth Alliance. [11]

Irfan Ali during a protest against sectarian violence in Islamabad, September 2012. From the Facebook page of Pakistan Youth Alliance.

Since 2001, Hazara Shia Muslims from Quetta — have routinely been targeted by militant groups [12]. Being a minority within a minority, the killing of Hazara Shias [13] is one of the most underreported cases of violence in Pakistan.

Hazara.net [14] archives statistics of killings of Hazara Shiites in Pakistan, including number of attacks and the number of people killed in the attacks thus far. According to the statistics on the site a total of 1100 Hazara Shiites have been killed in Pakistan since 1999.

Media outlets often face the heat for not acknowledging the nature of the attacks and when they do they are criticized for using the term ‘sectarian’ when a particular sect is being targeted. In an effort to create more noise and build pressure on law enforcement agencies and the government, there's been an active debate on social media regarding the targeted killings of Shiites using the #shiakillings and #shiagenocide on Twitter. Hazara activists have, in the past, used social media to get international media's attention in order to get their stories reported.

Well respected journalist Mohammad Hanif writes: [15]

Blogger Omar Biden wrote a brief yet moving tribute to Irfan Khudi Ali on his blog: [20]

Yesterday was one of many blood-soaked days for Balochistan’s capital, Quetta. Already in the morning the residents of city got to hear a blast pow, where explosives were planted in a Frontier Corp vehicle at Bacha Khan Chowk. The explosion resulted in 12 innocent lives being perished. Indeed, it created helter-skelter between the residents to bury the dead bodies.

Yet the more-then-enough rule doesn’t work in Pakistan, at least not in Quetta. After an interval of only few hours Alamdar Road, a majorly Shia Hazara people territory, witnessed another mass massacre, still the same tactic as in the morning -bomb blast. Nevertheless this time planned “Mardanawar”, boldly, a twin-blast to claim an unforgettable catastrophe (…)

he brutal incidents cost an enormous loss to humanity indeed. It also happened to be the death of an admired friend, a human rights activist –Irfan Ali Khudi.

Allegedly, Irfan Ali Khudi, 33, had come to Quetta so that he could “deliver peace training to young activist”.

Although I intended to write my feelings, yet am leaving this post incomplete…

The blood soaked day in Quetta, as Omar puts it, is not the first of its kind and may not be the last one. The indifference has angered many, especially since the banned militant organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi [21], that claimed responsibility for the attacks are yet to be apprehended.

The families of the victims have refused to bury their dead and have announced  that they will continue a sit-in unless the army takes action against the killing sprees [35]. This image uploaded [36] on Twitter shows thousands of Hazara sitting in the rain with the dead bodies of those massacred in the Quetta bombings.

Ali spoke at Tedx event in Rawalpindi city just a few weeks ago, watch his powerful speech here. [39]

Ali dedicated most of his life to highlighting the plight of Hazara, for those who knew him and even those who did not, he has become a symbol of the struggle for justice for the Hazara Community in Pakistan. As the sit in continues, amid cold and rain, as families refuse to bury their loved ones, will the authorities finally take action to stop the bloodshed? Till then Ali's story needs to be heard.