September 23rd, 2021
In a strongly worded letter written to the United Nations members of the Afghan diaspora and Afghan scholars have reminded the international community of their obligations to protecting fundamental human rights in Afghanistan.
With the help of witness testimonies and statements the letter asserts that the progress made on afghan women’s rights is now compromised and the Taliban’s state-sanctioned gendered policies violate the universal declaration of human rights.
In addition to women’s rights the letter also highlights the attitude of the Taliban towards ethnic minorities in Afghanistan including alleged acts of genocide against Afghanistan’s minority Hazara Shia community.
The letter asserts that the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and their forced implementation of an extreme interoperations of the Sharia law poses a direct and existential threat to the culture and identity of the Afghan nation.
Despite claims by the Taliban leadership that local and international journalists will have complete freedom of operation signatories of the letter narrate several incidents where reporters have been detained or beaten violently for reporting the situation on the ground.
The letter ends with making the following suggestions for concrete actions to the international community
The U.S. and its allies played an undeniable role in the instability and corruption in Afghanistan that led to the current Taliban takeover. During the first Soviet invasion in 1979, the U.S., through Pakistan, supplied many mujahideen leaders with military and monetary support to fight against the USSR. This unchecked flow of funding and weaponry to mujahideen leaders based out of Pakistan, eventually led to infighting between different factions, and the formation of the Taliban in the 1990s. The role these foreign actors played in sustaining violence in the region is indisputable. It was this spark that eventually resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
Since then, foreign actors have continued to exert their influence, often in ways extremely detrimental to the Afghan people. The United States, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, had ample warning and awareness about the increase in civilian harms and casualties its withdrawal was likely to precipitate. Nonetheless, the U.S. hastily and abruptly withdrew without securing any mechanisms to prevent the further loss of human life.
The UN has received multiple letters and public pleas from Afghan nationals, leaders, and the diaspora community urging international action, including delivery and disbursement of aid. We urge you to take swift action to further prevent the additional loss of civilian life, greater human suffering, displacement, and insatiability in an effective and immediate manner. It is essential that the UN and the international community act quickly given the ongoing and escalating risks to Afghans.
As independent mandate-holders, we call on you to honor and fulfill your obligations outlined by the respective UN Resolutions and pressure the international community to support Afghan civilians and refugees against routinely documented cruelty and Taliban rule.
Based on the foregoing, We, the under-signed, request that you advocate for the implementation of both immediate and short-term measures, make recommendations as a preventative measure, and to reinforce International Law compliance, including but not limited to, the following:
- Denounce the legitimization of the Taliban offensive as a formal government and any government’s decisions to so legitimize it;
- Act to issue an immediate cessation on all uses of drone strikes in the region, including, but not limited to, drone strikes from the U.S.;
- Support Afghan nationals’ right to self-determination and their advocacy for their right to life, dignity, security, and fundamental human rights;
- Evacuations & Resettlement:
- Assist in facilitating the immediate evacuation of the remaining hundreds of American citizens, foreign nationals, as well as SIV, P1, P2, and Humanitarian Parolees stranded in Afghanistan;
- Secure the parameters in and around Kabul Airport and urge neighboring countries who have not already done so to resume commercial flights for evacuation efforts;
- Call on neighboring countries to ensure borders remain open for free passage of Afghan civilians and urge the international community to welcome Afghan refugees without delay by raising their respective refugee caps;
- Demand that the international community expand its definition of humanitarian parole, refugee, asylum, and permanent status for arriving citizens;
- Humanitarian Aid:
- Increase humanitarian aid and assistance at borders, countries hosting Afghan refugees, and third countries providing safe passage to Afghan evacuees;
Immediately continue the dispersal of frozen humanitarian aid and funds to Afghanistan, including but not limited to, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund accounts, in a strategic manner so as to ensure funds reach the most vulnerable;
Press the international community to not leave Afghan civilians’ livelihoods to remain dependent on Taliban leadership and agreement. The international community must work with civilians and NGOs to disburse and distribute aid in Afghanistan;
Establish immediate international monitoring mechanisms of human rights abuses and violations against the people of Afghanistan, especially against ethnic and religious minority communities, women, and members of the LGBTQIA community;
Secure and ensure education, artistic and cultural expression, and the rights of women to self determination; and
Support the position that human rights abuses and violations occurred in Afghanistan and against the Afghan people shall be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a special focus on all actors and foreign governments involved, including reports of Pakistan’s Airforce providing support during the Taliban’s offensive attack on Panjshir, Afghanistan, this month.