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Human Rights Watch: Taliban carried out arrests, executions

Robert Besser
03 Dec 2021, 21:48 GMT+10

LONDON, England: The Taliban has executed dozens of members of the former government's security forces after the surrender of Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch said, as reported by CNN.

Refuting claims the Taliban made to the international community about leading a more inclusive government, new research by Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleges the government executed dozens of members of the Afghan security forces after they surrendered in late summer.

The HRW report detailed "the summary execution or enforced disappearance" of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, based on 67 interviews with witnesses, relatives and friends of victims, as well as Taliban fighters.

While the report focuses on Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces, HRW said, "The cases reflect a broader pattern of abuses reported in Khost, Paktiya, Paktika, and other provinces."

However, a Taliban deputy spokesman rejected the HRW report, saying that the Taliban established a general amnesty on their first day of power in Afghanistan. "Based on that, all military and non-military personnel of the former government were forgiven and told they could live normally in Afghanistan, that no one could harm them," Bilal Karimi told CNN.

According to research by HRW, Taliban forces have killed or jailed more than 100 former security forces, along with their family members, during the three months since their takeover of the capital Kabul on August 15.

A man from Kandahar described to HRW what happened when the Taliban knocked on his door searching for his brother, who worked for the security offices.

"There was a knock on the door. The [Taliban] asked: 'Is [your brother] home?' I said no. 'Do not be scared, tell him, we want to talk to him.' I said no, he is not home. A couple of days later, they took my brother from the street. We looked everywhere. We went to the Taliban, who denied involvement. Two days later we found his body," the man told CNN.

One Taliban fighter described a former prison official who was allegedly executed after being called back to work in August.

"The commanders called him back to the job after a few days. They said, 'Your job is here, you know this job.' The prison has three gates. ['Muhammad'] crossed the first gate. He was shot dead between the second and the third gate."

"In the weeks before the Taliban overran Kabul, revenge killings, including the targeting of government officials, were already on the increase in major cities and along key highways," HRW reported.

HRW said the Taliban collected information as part of a so-called "amnesty program" that would guarantee the safety of surrendering security forces, but was used "to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find."

HRW said that while Taliban officials have repeatedly denied their forces have carried out killings and disappearances, "Increasing evidence suggests that summary executions and disappearances, among other abuses, are being carried out by senior Taliban leadership at the district or provincial level."

Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and subsequent Taliban takeover, there has been concern that long-persecuted ethnic and religious minorities, such as the minority Shia Hazara ethnic group, would be targeted, as they were under the previous Taliban rule.

Concerns are also growing that Afghanistan will become increasingly isolated from the world, and continue to strip away the rights of women, religious minorities, LGBTQ people and former officials.

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