Taliban forces have killed or disappeared more than 100 former security force members by directing them to register to receive papers supposedly ensuring their safety, but in actuality serves as their death warrant, according to a newly released report by Human Rights Watch.
HRW based its report on interviews with Afghans from four provinces across the country. The organization said it interviewed 40 individuals in person and nearly 30 by telephone. The report blamed the Taliban for failing to keep their end of the bargain when they said these individuals would not be harmed.
“The Taliban leadership’s promised amnesty has not stopped local commanders from summarily executing or disappearing former Afghan security force members,” Patricia Gossman, the associate Asia director at HRW said, according to a statement. “The burden is on the Taliban to prevent further killings, hold those responsible to account, and compensate victims’ families.”
The 25-page report paints a grim picture of life under Taliban rule. These former security officials tricked into signing these false protection papers are often detained within days after registering. Their bodies are often collected by either family members or by people in their communities. Those who disappear are often taken during nighttime raids, the report, citing a civil society activist in Helmand, said. Families are not allowed to ask about their locations.
A Taliban spokesman told Fox News that the report is one-sided. He said it is unfair to call the arrest and punishment of perpetrators of “all crimes in the country as a violation of human rights.” Inamullah Samangani, another spokesman, told Axios that the group is “fully committed to the amnesty” and blamed rogue fighters for the killings.
After the chaotic fall of Kabul in August, the Taliban made overtures to the international community that they would take a more pragmatic, moderate approach to governing in hopes that they would not be alienated by the international community.
Taliban fighters stand guard next to a Taliban flag during a gathering where Afghan Hazara elders pledged their support to the country’s new Taliban rulers, in Kabul on November 25, 2021. (Photo by AREF KARIMI/AFP via Getty Images)
Hasan Akhund, the former acting minister of foreign affairs, went so far as to urge Afghans who worked with the U.S. and had fled to return to the country. He assured their safety upon their return.
“The stage of bloodshed, killing and contempt for people in Afghanistan has ended, and we have paid dearly for this,” he said in September. Critics at the time said his comments rang hollow because the Taliban had just named the head of the terror group known as the Haqqani network as their interim interior minister. He kept the post and is seen as one of the group’s most influential leaders.
A vendor sells dates along a road in Kandahar on November 29, 2021. (Photo by JAVED TANVEER/AFP via Getty Images)
Besides the threat from the Taliban, the U.N. has raised the alarm over a hunger crisis in th country, with 22% of the population of 38 million already near famine and another 36% facing acute food insecurity – mainly because people can’t afford food.
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The economy was already in trouble under the previous, U.S.-backed government, which often could not pay its employees. The situation was worsened by the coronavirus pandemic and by a punishing drought that drove up food prices. Already in 2020, nearly half of Afghanistan’s population was living in poverty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report