Untangling the Afghan Conflict:
a series of conferences to listen close



Within the scope of informing and discussing one of the most pressing situations in society right now, HOM organised a set of three Instagram lives in September, under the title “Untangling the Afghan Conflict”.


Sharif Haidari and Rafiq Arif, Bruno Neto and Binazir Hosseini were the speakers and guests who assertively and engagingly explored different perspectives and themes of a conflict that has been dragging on since 1970 when the monarchy was abolished.


On the first one, entitled “Hazaras and the Taliban: Ethnic and religious hierarchies of power”, Sharif brings the perspective of a Hazara in Afghanistan. Sharif Haidari, 25, born in Jaghori, Ghazni, has lived in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece and Rafiq Arif, a student of international relations, were the protagonists of the conference.


One of the main factors in Hazaras continued persecution is their Shia religious faith, their distinctive ethnic origins, as well as their separate economic and political roots. They were once the major ethnic community before the mass massacre by the Afghan (Pashtun) Amir in 1893. Due to the historic regimes of Taliban and Pashtuns’, there has been a big impact on Hazaras’ security, religious faith and instability of ethnic practices. Now that Taliban has taken Afghanistan back, Hazaras are particularly vulnerable and in danger that History might repeat itself and that lots of Hazaras might get massacred again.


“I feel much tensed about the situation in Afghanistan on Hazaras who are not given the major attention on what is going to come in their future. Future is not predictable but History is proof, when the Taliban announced that killing Shia Hazara was the key to Paradise and killed thousands of Hazaras. (…) I personally have doubts that the Taliban are not taught what Islam really is. I have learnt from my ancestors who were taught by Islam that “killing a human is killing humanity””, says Sharif.


On the second one, “Peace and conflict resolution”, Bruno Neto, Head of Base of a humanitarian organization that witnessed the take over of the Taliban, gives us a more political contextualization, such as the US role in Afghanistan and in arming the Taliban and the political interests of Russia and China in the conflicts.


Bruno also says something interesting, that the Taliban of today are not as radical as they used to be with foreigners, for example, who instead of being killed immediately, are now treated as visitors if they are not in the country with bad intentions. Overall, for Bruno, “It is a game we are all assisting and we are powerless”.


Last, but equally important, “What it means to be a woman in today’s Afghanistan”, was a conference in collaboration with Oporto’s Feminist League and with Binazir Hosseini, a 17-year-old Afghan. She left Afghanistan when she was 4 years old and has passed through Iran. Currently she is living in Greece with her family.


She tells us how there is no freedom for women in Afghanistan, how restrictions are imposed on them, such as being forbidden to study, work, and do sports, or only being able to go out on the streets accompanied by a man. “We demand free, dignified and safe lives for all women and girls living in Afghanistan”, says the Oporto’s Feminist League. “Benni” leaves us one last appeal: “don’t forget us Afghan women”, adding that we can help giving them a voice.


After three very enlightening, dynamic, and emotional conferences, we were all a little closer to the reality of a country where there is no respect for human rights. Our goal was to go deeper into the subject and bring it closer to the community, educating and leaving the message that it is possible to help.