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Genocide Emergency: Afghanistan

[Photo Credit: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images]

In 2001, the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan dislodged the Taliban from power and after elections, installed a civilian government. In the two decades since, Taliban militants have waged a violent insurgency against the Afghan government. Taliban attacks have resulted in more than 100,000 civilian casualties since 2010. Afghan government and NATO attacks have also killed many civilians. In 2018, Taliban terrorist attacks intensified, resulting in a record number of civilians killed. The Taliban’s genocidal massacres include widespread and systematic violence against women, Afghan government police, and ethnic and religious minorities, including Hazaras and Sikhs.

In February 2020, the U.S. and the Taliban signed a preliminary peace agreement. Meanwhile, the Taliban escalated its intentional targeting of civilians. In the first six-months of 2020, the Taliban killed more than 1,200 civilians.

The Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) is also undermining any realistic prospects for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Like the Taliban, IS-K has committed widespread atrocities against civilians, minorities, and Afghan police. In March 2020 Islamic State militants attacked a Sikh temple in Kabul, killing at least 25. IS-K was responsible for the heinous attack that killed 24 mothers, newborns, and nurses at a Kabul maternity ward. ISIS-affiliated terrorists regularly execute attacks aimed at sabotaging the Afghan peace process, including a recent attack on a prison, which killed 29 people during a three-day Eid ceasefire.

Across Afghanistan, targeted killings continue unabated. If the Taliban should regain control of the country, or if IS-K is able to gain further influence, the result will be the continued extermination of ethnic and religious minorities, degradation of women’s fundamental human rights, systematic targeting of civilians and other war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Due to the specific attacks on ethnic and religious minorities, Genocide Watch considers the current situation in Afghanistan to be at Stage 9: Extermination.

To prevent further genocidal bloodshed in Afghanistan, Genocide Watch recommends:

  • The Taliban and Afghan government should follow through on the stipulations in their February 2020 agreement, most importantly through engaging in a national dialogue aimed at forming a government of national unity.

  • The Afghan government should avoid employing counterinsurgency measures that kill civilians, as these attacks increase popular support for the Taliban.

  • Taliban and Afghan government forces should work together to prevent further IS-K attacks, which undermine peace negotiations.

  • The Afghan government and international donors should increase funding to civil society organizations that work to protect the rights of Afghan women and minorities.

  • The U.S. and its NATO allies should not abandon the Afghan government, and should support Afghan efforts to prevent a violent takeover of the country by the Taliban.

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