April 19, 2024

Photo: Farzia, Afghani Woman, 28, who lost her husband in Baghlan one week ago to fighting by Taliban sites with her children, Subhan, 5, and Ismael, 2, in a tent at a makeshift IDP camp on August, 12, 2021 in Kabul, Afghani. Source: www.rescue.org/country/afghanistan

Photo: Farzia, Afghani Woman, 28, who lost her husband in Baghlan one week ago to fighting by Taliban sites with her children, Subhan, 5, and Ismael, 2, in a tent at a makeshift IDP camp on August, 12, 2021 in Kabul, Afghani. Source: www.rescue.org/country/afghanistan

 

By Mariah Abdel-Aziz

EUNACR’s Human Rights Weekly

Rini Elizabeth Babu

 

At the Centre stage:

Plagued by decades of violent conflict, Afghanistan has created one of the largest refugee populations in the world. The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the U.S. was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war. The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. and its allies melted away.

 

Photo: Thousands of Afghans rushed into Kabul’s main airport on Monday, some so desperate to escape the Taliban that they held onto a military jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths. Source: https://www.deccanherald.com/international/afghanistan-crisis-e-emergency-x-misc-visa-to-fast-track-entry-to-india-1020571.html

 

Decoding in details:

Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents entered Kabul on Sunday 15, August 2021 after virtually surrounding the city from all sides. Word of their arrival spread like wildfire, and the city panicked. There were traffic snarls everywhere, and people rushed home to stock up on essentials, withdrawing money from banks. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country in the afternoon, as most western nations evacuated their embassies, or relocated them closer to the airport.

 

 

The impact of increasing levels of violence between Taliban and government forces in recent days is forcing thousands to uproot and flee to safety. An estimated 390,000 people have been displaced since the start of the year, according to the United Nations, but actual numbers could be far higher.

Escalating fighting has also made it more difficult and dangerous for aid organizations to assist families most in need. As Tracey Van Heerden, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s acting country director in Afghanistan said,

“We are bracing ourselves for a major humanitarian crisis. Terrified families have been fleeing into Kabul in the past days. Camps are overcrowded and children are sleeping out in the open. Families are fighting over food. We fear this situation is being replicated across the country at an unprecedented pace” (Norwegian Refugee Council, 2021).

 

 

Human Right’s delegates position towards the human right’s situation in Afghanistan:

Swift action must change the current catastrophic trajectory of violence and humanitarian suffering in Afghanistan, briefers warned the Security Council, as delegates called for an immediate halt to the recent Taliban offensive that has led to record numbers of civilian casualties and targeted killings.

With Afghanistan at a dangerous turning point, a united Security Council must seize the current opportunity to quickly reinvigorate peace talks and prevent the crisis from spilling across national borders, said Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“Ahead lies either a genuine peace negotiation or a tragically intertwined set of crises,” she said:  “an increasingly brutal conflict combined with an acute humanitarian situation and multiplying human rights abuses” (United Nations, 2021)

She urged the Council to issue an unambiguous statement that attacks against cities must stop now. Members engaging in talks with the Taliban Political Commission should insist on a general ceasefire and resumption of negotiations while reiterating that the international community will not recognize a Government imposed by force.

These next weeks could be decisive, she said, pressing the Council to set aside differences and send a strong signal that the fighting must stop and parties must negotiate.  Otherwise, she warned, there may be nothing left to win.

Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said the ongoing storm of atrocities is costing lives and spreading terror, pushing the possibility of peace further away.

Gains made are under attack and rapidly shrinking, she said, adding that the rights of women and girls, including access to education, markets and basic health services, are diminishing. Access to information and the freedom of expression is equally concerning, as independent media in the provinces is shut down, she said.

 

As one of the stories, Khurram, a 22-year-old former youth representative to the United Nations, is just months away from graduating from Kabul University. Nevertheless, she and her fellow female students now face an uncertain future.

The world and Afghan leaders failed the younger generation of Afghanistan in the cruellest way imaginable,” she said.It is a nightmare for educated women who envisioned a brighter future for themselves and generations to come”, she added.

In the weeks leading up to their return to power, the Taliban’s leadership have strived to portray a softer image than when they last ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. However, women struggle to take comfort from such assurances.

‘History repeats itself’

 

Photo: Afghan women must cover up under fundamental sharia law. Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/01/afghanistan-peace-deal-taliban-must-guarantee-rights-women-column/4892586002/

 

Under the hardline version of sharia law that the Taliban imposed the last time they controlled the capital, women and girls were mostly denied education or employment.

Full-face coverings became mandatory in public and they could not leave home without a male companion. Public floggings and executions, including stoning for adultery, were carried out in city squares and stadiums. The Taliban’s ouster did not spell the end of abuses. Women often remained marginalised, especially in rural areas.

 

 

As local resources reported to BBC TV that the Taliban removed art and citizenship classes from the curriculum, replacing them with Islamic subjects, but otherwise follow the national syllabus.

So do the Taliban send their own daughters to school? “My daughter’s very young, but when she grows up, I will send her to school and the madrassa, as long as it’s implementing the hijab and Sharia,” says Salahuddin.

The government pays the salaries of staff, but the Taliban are in charge. It is a hybrid system in place across the country.

 

Standpoint:

What we are witnessing in Afghanistan is a tragedy that should have been foreseen and averted. It will only be compounded further without swift and decisive action from the international community. Thousands of Afghans at serious risk of Taliban reprisals – from academics and journalists to civil society activists and women human rights defenders – are in danger of being abandoned to a deeply uncertain future.

Foreign governments must take every necessary measure to ensure the safe passage out of Afghanistan for all those at risk of being targeted by the Taliban. This includes expediting visas, delivering support for evacuations from Kabul airport, providing relocation and resettlement, and suspending all deportations and forced returns.

As Amnesty urged UN Security Council must also adopt an emergency resolution calling on the Taliban – who now effectively control the country – to respect international human rights law, protect civilians, and end reprisal attacks, as negotiations on transitional arrangements continue.

Akbar noting that she is briefing the Council for the third time since June 2019 said the situation in Afghanistan today could not be more urgent. “Millions of Afghans are living in terror to see what comes next.” The Commission is verifying the details of horrific war crimes daily, including extrajudicial and targeted killing of civilians working for the Government, she added.

 

References:

Kermani, S & Zubaide, M, (April 15, 2021): “Afghanistan: ‘We have won the war, America has lost’, say Taliban”. BBC News. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56747158

United Nations, (August 6, 2021): “As Taliban Offensive Escalates, Afghanistan at Dangerous Turning Point, Special Representative Warns Security Council amid Calls for Ceasefire, Aid Access” Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14596.doc.htm

Norwegian Refugee Council, (August 13, 2021): “Escalating conflict is increasing suffering and humanitarian needs for millions of Afghans across the country” Retrieved from: https://www.nrc.no/news/2021/august/afghanistan-on-the-brink-of-major-humanitarian-crisis/

Amnesty, (August 16, 2021): “Afghanistan: International community must act decisively to avert further tragedy”. Amnesty. organization. Retrieved from: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/08/afghanistan-international-community-must-act-decisively-to-avert-further-tragedy/

France24, (August 18, 2021): “Afghan women’s rights in firing line as Taliban return to power”. Retrieved from: https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210816-afghan-women-s-rights-in-firing-line-as-taliban-return-to-power