The Persian-speaking peoples of Afghanistan created a movement for self-determination and the question of declaring an independent state not connected with the Pashtuns was raised.

Author: Fayaz Bahraman Najimi, founder and a member of the leadership of the Movement for the Right to Self-Determination of the East Persians in Afghanistan, member of the Sangar Advisory Council

Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta

In Afghanistan, for more than a century, non-Pashtun ethnic groups have been artificially forced to change their identity in accordance with the “pan-Afghan” ethnic narrative. This was due to the desire of central governments to suppress the prerequisites for the emergence of separatist movements. However, in recent years the situation has changed radically.

After 1937, the then-ruling monarchical regime in Afghanistan formed the doctrine of the “Afghan nation”, the purpose of which was the actual destruction of the linguistic and cultural identity of the Persian-speaking (Tajiks and Hazaras) and Turkic-speaking (Uzbeks and Turkmen) peoples. The domination of the Pashtuns with the support of foreign states forced these ethnicities to submit to the demands of the ruling ethnic group. The doctrine was implemented gradually, and some elements of identity, including the language and traditions of Persian speakers, were retained to some extent, as Pashtun politicians could not use their language as a bridge between other ethnic groups.

Historically, Afghanistan is a "fake country", like many states of the post-colonial era. It was created by the British in 1880, and before that, certain regions, which are now called Pashtun lands, were designated this way. But later, the territory of Afghanistan was forcibly expanded to include autonomous regions in the north, which were mostly Persian-speaking and Turkic-speaking. Under an agreement between Tsarist Russia and British India, this territory was accepted as a buffer zone under the name of Afghanistan. At the same time, most of the people who inhabited these lands spoke the Persian language and were separated from their brothers in the lands of modern Iran and Central Asia.

It was on this territory, where statehood was artificially created by the great European powers, that the idea of building an "Afghan nation" was born. The "Afghan" language was promoted and the status of the Persian language was marginalized. In fact, it was nothing more than a policy of de-identifying non-Pashtun ethnic groups. It took many years for non-Pashtuns to understand their position. They tried to find their place in a new identity that contradicted their common history, culture, and language. Such duality has always been aggravated under the Pashtun rulers of the republic, it was especially noticeable during the reign of Ashraf Ghani. Such rulers constantly tried in various ways to create a split among the Persian-speaking peoples.

But a new generation of Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks have challenged the notorious "Afghan identity" by realizing the importance of their own self-determination. Representatives of these ethnicities transferred the discussion of the problem to social networks. But the fall of the Afghan Republic after the evacuation of the US military contingent not only did not mean the end of the rule of the Pashtuns but, on the contrary, their violent and primitive nature of rule was continued by the Taliban (a terrorist movement banned in the Russian Federation).

The Taliban, as the successors of the Pashtun regimes of the past, also have clear plans against the ethnicities of Afghanistan who speak Persian and Turkic languages. They want to make their power in the country permanent and strong through ethnic cleansing and forced displacement of ethnicities living in the north of the state.

Today, however, a movement for the right to self-determination of the Eastern Persians is being activated in Afghanistan. This movement emerged as a result of all the social, economic, cultural, and ethnic oppression and unjust acts that the Pashtun rulers have done in the last 140 years.

In 2022, Persian-speaking youth - both women and men - for the first time raised the issue of creating an independent state of the Eastern Persians, jointly with their historical allies - the Turkic-speaking peoples of Northern Afghanistan. A manifesto for the movement for the right to self-determination of Persian speakers was written and distributed. This is truly a strategic document. Then work began on the creation of a political organization, which a year later turned into a broad movement.

This movement for self-determination brought under one roof a structure made up of Tajiks, Hazaras, and other Persian-speaking ethnic groups. According to the manifesto, not only do all Tajiks and Hazaras enjoy equal rights and democratic freedoms, but these principles are considered equally valuable to all oppressed ethnic groups. The movement fights for the unity of all Persian speakers up to the creation of an independent state on their historical territory.


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