Showing posts with label Bamiyan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bamiyan. Show all posts

Mar 7, 2021

20th anniversary of the destruction of Buddha statues of Bamiyan

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the destruction of the two monumental Buddha statues of Bamiyan which were built in the 6th century AD. Twenty years ago, on March 02, 2001, the Taliban on the orders of their leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, began destroying the statues. The destruction process took several weeks. They first began with heavy artilleries but soon realized they couldn't destroyed. So, they forced the local men to descend the cliff and drill holes into the statues. Then they placed dynamites and blew them up. This was a tragic event but it is not the whole story.

When the Taliban took control of the city of Bamiyan, they first massacred the Hazaras who were residents of the city. The victims were mostly old men and women and children, too weak to fight, and too old to run. They were left behind and everyone else who could run, fled to the mountains and hid in the caves.

The people later died of starvation. A few months after the fall of the Taliban, the locals started searching for their loved ones in the mountains. They found their remains in the caves, torn by predators, and some that were leftovers of vultures still showed undigested grass in their stomachs. Trapped in the mountains, they consumed grass to survive but eventually succumbed to death.

When we talk about destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, it is important to first foreground the human cost of this tragedy. We need to highlight the Taliban's crime and atrocities against the Hazaras, the local population in the city of Bamiyan. For centuries, these people were neighbors with Buddha statues. We should ask ourselves, what it meant for these people to have lived there? What price did they pay because of being Hazaras and Shias? And what was their relationship with the statues of Buddhas historically and culturally?

The Western perspective and their understanding of the destruction of the statues are aesthetic, meaning they look at Buddhas and their demolition as objects that belonged to history but disregard the subjects of history. This is a colonial perspective, an epistemic violence that is integral to their practice of domination and subjugation. They have rendered this horrific human tragedy as a singular and abstract event.

This is cruel and violent because such narrative removes the Buddhas from its context, and that context is the Hazara people whose culture and history are intertwined with the statues.  I am not saying that we should not highlight the importance of historical tragedy of the destruction of Buddhas, my point here is that the objectification of the Buddhas solely as a tragic event not only trivializes and downplays the human costs but also leads to omission. 

We need to change the narrative in order to avoid any violence against the Hazara people. Every year, in this time, we should all come together and commemorate the death of people of Bamiyan alongside the destruction of their Buddhas. Finally, we need to talk and pay attention to the Taliban's atrocities that happened on a large scale and simultaneously think it as a warning sign as their return is looming.

Mar 11, 2014

Bamiyan Buddha Statues Were Destroyed By Taliban Not Al Qaeda

An uninformed individual might be better respected, and revered than an ill-informed individual who tries to knowingly spread incorrect information based on speculation. An uninformed individual cannot test the plausibility of an assumption, or, claim that is being made in a topic. Moreover, this uninformed individual cannot be blamed for being ill-informed; rather, the source of the misinformation should be blamed.

To be precise, recently, an article was published on The Wall Street Journal which was titled: Afghan Hazaras Emerge as Power Brokers in President Elections. It is well-written, and it is worth reading, but not everything has said is necessarily true. Halfway down the article, you will find this line: “The destruction by al Qaeda of Bamiyan's historic Buddha statues in 2001.”

When I read this, I thought this must be an unintentional mistake. I tweeted the article, a few minutes later, my tweet was retweeted by Nathan Hodge, one of the writers of the piece. Then I tweeted him:
Al Qaeda had no role at the destruction of the of Bamiyan's historic Buddha statues which happened on March 11, 2001. The Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban regime, inspired by their sheer tribal barbaric mindset who not only rejoiced in the destruction of the most ancient historical monuments, but they also glorified themselves by slaughtering thousands of innocents of Shiite Hazaras in Bamiyan, and other cities. Though Al Qaeda were as extreme as the Taliban in their religious belief system, they did not involve themselves in local matters, their main focus of interest was in the United States, and in other western countries. Of course, the Taliban regime did not fail to pay heed to the Al Qaeda advices in some areas, but particularly, not in the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues.

In fact, today is the 13 years anniversary of the destruction of Buddha statues by the Taliban regime, and I posted a photo alongside a short post on my photoblog. One should bother reading a little bit before putting his, or, her pen to paper because we are all responsible toward what we write about people and for people.

Though such mistakes in western media is abundantly describable, I do not see myself in a position to judge, and notice others' mistakes, in this case, count it on my brusqueness, and I appeal for your pardon.