Taliban drive Uzbeks and Turkmen from their lands
Over 1,000 people deported to Djausdjan province. The move favours their Pashtun supporters in northern Afghanistan. Tribal council convened to resolve the case. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan ask the Taliban government to address the ethnic issue.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - In recent days the Taliban have allegedly forcibly deported more than 1,000 people in the northern territories of Afghanistan, as reported by various sources. The Afghan fundamentalist government is said to have decided the operation to free about 20,000 acres of land, on which several ethnic Uzbek and Turkmen communities were settled. The deportees themselves say that Taliban guerrillas of Pashtun ethnicity took them from their homes, driving them to the province of Djausdjan.
For some time now, the Taliban had already begun to use force against hundreds of Shiite Khazari families in five provinces of the country. The intention of the "students of God", who returned to power 20 years after the U.S. invasion, is to redistribute land to their supporters and punish the sectors of the population that supported the previous government, backed by the United States and other Western allies.
A man interviewed by Radio Azattyk, under the fictitious name Abdullah, tells of being deported to Darzab, a remote village in Djausdjan. According to him, the authorities of the province promised to send a delegation to investigate this "illegal occupation" of inhabited territories, but so far no one has been seen.
"We had owned our land for hundreds of years, we shared it among community members, and now it has been taken away from us," Abdullah says. Another witness, Faizullah, confirms that "we could protest, otherwise they would have killed us."
The representative of Pashtun nomads in Djausdjan, Gulam Sarvar Alizaj, says that discussions often arise because of the uncertainty of property rights on lands, which would actually belong to the State, despite the claims of locals. The nomads themselves claim the right to return to the pastures from which they were driven out 20 years ago, and which Uzbeks and Turkmen "have occupied trying to cultivate them, even though they are fruitless lands." Now the decision of the tribal councils, in which five people from each side should participate, is being invoked.
The Taliban government declined to comment on the case, which highlighted how much the internal problems of the new Afghanistan echo the centuries-old ethnic and tribal conflicts of this territory. The vast majority of Taliban leaders are ethnic Pashtuns, and they are now trying to impose themselves on all other groups.
It is not easy to disentangle the internal balance of these struggles, also because no population census has been held for many years; the last attempt in this sense was made in the 1970s, without reliable results. According to the figures of that time, Pashtuns constitute about 40% of the entire Afghan population, followed by Tajiks (less than 30%), Khazars and Uzbeks (about 10%), plus other minorities.
To escape from the occupations of Tsarist and Soviet Russia, in the past various ethnic groups had come to Afghanistan; in the last thirty years the situation has become even more entangled. The leaders of Central Asian countries, such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, are asking the Taliban to create "inclusive" administrative structures to finally deal with these internal problems, without having had any satisfaction so far.