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Genocide Emergency: Afghanistan

Opponents of the Taliban offensive prepare for battle at Ghorband district in Parwan province [Omar Sobhani/Reuters]

Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Emergency Alert for Afghanistan. The U.S. has begun its withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan, blindly adhering to the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signed in September 2020. The Taliban have not abided by the agreement except for not targeting U.S. troops. They have actually increased attacks on Afghan civilians.

That agreement and the resulting U.S. and NATO military drawdown have emboldened the Taliban and other Islamist extremists to increase their campaign of terror against Afghan officials, health workers, and girls' schools. Their goal is to create fear in Afghanistan and undermine support for the Afghan government, which is demonstrably unable to guarantee civilian security. It is an age-old tactic to bring surrender. It worked for the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It will also work in Afghanistan.

The official American narrative is that this is a civil war rather than genocide. This view ignores the fact that most genocides occur during civil wars. Civil war and genocide often occur together.

Americans are tired of this twenty-year war, which has cost the lives of 2,400 U.S. military, 2,000 civilian contractors, and at least 47,245 Afghan civilians. The U.S. is cutting and running, as it did in Cambodia. The U.S. and NATO are abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban. The result will be another genocide.

Taliban units are already carrying out genocidal massacres against ethnic and religious minorities. They especially target the Shi'ite Hazaras. They are also committing widespread and systematic crimes against humanity against women, health workers, journalists, and girls' schools. The rival Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) also commits crimes against humanity that target women and minority groups.

On May 8, 2021, explosions outside a school in Kabul killed over 90 children. The majority of the victims were female students belonging to the persecuted Hazara community. Although neither the Taliban nor IS-K took responsibility for the attack, such specific targeting of the Hazara religious minority is a portent of an approaching genocide.

Journalists have also come under increasing attacks. Local Taliban leaders circulate hit lists and threaten reporters and their families. In March 2021, IS-K killed three female journalists. Murders of journalists have forced many reporters to go into hiding or flee the country.

If the Taliban re-establish their Islamist totalitarian state, they will exterminate ethnic and religious minorities, negate women’s fundamental human rights, and target journalists, health workers, and teachers. The Taliban committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide when they ruled Afghanistan in the past, and they will do so again.

Due to relentless Taliban and Islamic State attacks on minorities, Genocide Watch considers the current situation in Afghanistan to be at Stage 9: Extermination. Genocide Watch recommends:

· The U.S. should abrogate the September 2020 peace agreement that did not include the elected Afghan government, and that is routinely broken by the Taliban.

· U.S. and NATO air strikes and contractor support for Afghan troops must continue.

· Afghan forces should avoid counter-insurgency measures that kill civilians.

· U.S. and E.U. aid for health care, women's and education organizations should be increased.

· The U.S. should issue SIV visas to all Afghans who have worked for the U.S. government and its contractors, and to their immediate families, not only to those who helped the U.S. military.

· The US and its allies must continue to provide military, financial, and diplomatic support to the Afghan government to prevent a military takeover by the Taliban.

Genocide Emergency- Afghanistan
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© Genocide Watch, 2021

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