Tabasum Revolution

The brutal act of decapitating seven Hazaras by the so-called ISIS combatants in Zabul province ignited massive outrage and a populous protest by the Hazaras within Kabul city that soon turned national and international. Tens of thousands of Hazaras in collaboration with members of other communities took Kabul roads on Wednesday, November 11th to express their hatred of the brutal beheading and widespread insecurity across Afghanistan that latter on became famous as Tabasum (smile) Revolution-making it a historic civil protest in contemporary Afghan society. It was named after the beheaded nine year old girl, Shukria Tabasum.
These seven Hazaras were beheaded on 8th November, days and even months after they were abducted in Zabul’s Khaak-e-Afghan District which borders with Jaghori District in Ghazni. The abduction was the third round of Hazara abduction by these militants. Hazaras’ dominant religious affiliation with Shiteism and reported fighting of certain Hazara Refugees recruited by Iranian government from poor Afghan Immigrants in that country in Syria in support of Bashaar Assad regime are claimed to be the main motivations behind the series of target abduction and beheading. Beheaded bodies were stitched after they were handed over to Zabul inhabitants and were then transported to Ghazni city. A girl aged 9 Shukria Tabasum and a woman-in her sixties, were among those who were tortured and then beheaded in this inhuman act.

Alike atrocities happened occasionally across Afghanistan previously-limited to individual incidents. It was, however, brutality of the act and inclusiveness of women and a minor girl that made it severely barbaric and made the public widely sentimental towards the act. It shouldn’t be ignored though that the atrocity wasn’t the only igniter of the massive protest. Violent attacks of the Taliban, war crimes they perpetuated against Afghans in Kunduz, atrocities of the ISIS in Nangarhar province on one hand and consistent failure of the fractious United National Government led by Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah in maintaining security of the Afghan citizens-even in city centers and the widespread ethnic segregation on the other hand are, no doubt, other main reasons behind the surge of public outrage. Protesters, not only in Kabul but in other cities of Afghanistan, chanted slogans that read “We seek justice”, “Security is our right”, “We are Pashtoon Hazaras”, expressing the motivations behind the protest.

Conspiracies of the Presidential Palace
Numerous accounts by different members of Kabul rally organizers,  exposed presidential palace’s desperate struggle towards preventing the transfer of bodies to Kabul, preventing the march to happen, intruding within the protest organizers to hold control of the rally and stopping it far away from the Presidential Palace. Despite these desperate conspiracies, led among others by Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq-second deputy to Chief Executive of National Unity Government, the relatively long march took place and reached the eastern gate of the Presidential Palace

Another tactic of The Palace to exhaust the protestors was letting loose the exit way for protestors and keeping the entrance closed for the new-comers. It was almost impossible for new comers, to join the few hundreds who had remained around The Palace. In spite of strict blockade of the entrance, many did join the few hundred protestors who had kept their position despite the criminal attack by The Presidential Guards.
Last, but the cleverest conspiracy by The Palace, was marked when the protestors were divided. First, protest organizers were separated from other protesters to negotiate their terms with the president. When they step inside the palace, they were further divided, with separating the family members of victims and locking down other rally organizers almost for 45 minutes. President and the Chief Executive of NUG, then, negotiated the terms with family members of the victims and a few influential tribal members. Process of the negotiation was live-broadcasted and through that demands of the protestors were either rejected or were unwillingly accepted. Active members of protest organizers were let in, after the victim family members were satisfied, and were given the chance to speak behind closed doors and away from media. Protesters’ terms to start quick security clearance operation in Khaak-e-Afghan district, the demand to establish a military headquarter for central region and to promote Jaghuri into a province were all left for further consideration.

Even though the negotiation process within The Palace faced almost a stalemate and the protest ended without tangible achievements in terms of the demands that were incorporated within The Statement, the protest turned national on Thursday and international on Thursday and Friday. Civil society activists, human rights advocates and other Afghan citizens in Badakhshan, Balkh, Ghor, Zabul, Nangarhar, Herat, Bamyan, Daikundi and Ghazni provinces joined the Tabasum Revolution and raised their voices to advocate for justice to #Zabul7 and to respecting the right to security. National Protests were given international support by Afghan citizens in Australia, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, France, Sweden and other countries. Statements supporting the rally were issued by International agencies and many other governments.

Way Forward,
Not much has changed in terms of quality of life of the Afghan households-except that the political atmosphere is relatively free for speech and positive outcome of investment on education both by the households and the government is observable. Todays’ Afghanistan has millions of trained and educated voices that have the potential to hold governments accountable-as they did in the Tabasum Revolution. 
The demonstration once again showed that civil protest-even in a country that is being led more by Drug Mafia, ethnic power brokers and warlords then selected representatives of the people- is an effective tool to pressurize the government. Afghanistan has invested upon this tool and it is an efficient one.
It is also agreed that meeting the objectives of civil order and socio-economic justice through peaceful civil protest is long and relatively exhaustive journey. Protestors are aware of it and are committed to this path-in spite of that. Demonstrators, because of this logic, haven’t been disillusioned and frustrated in spite of the fact that from the terms they had broken with the government, not much were achieved.


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