UN chief warned against efforts to recognise the Taliban government

An open letter to the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, signed by a collective of activists, writers, intellectuals, academics, and human rights defenders from Afghanistan in the diaspora has expressed “deep concern” about any UN-led initiative which could result in the recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate government of Afghanistan.

The signatories include Shahrzad Akbar, the former head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, Nahid Fareed, former member of Afghanistan Parliament and Dr. Elham Gharji, an academic.

The letter says:

“The Taliban’s behavior and policies, while worrying, are not surprising to the citizens of Afghanistan. Those of us who lived through their brutal rule during the late 1990s and suffered from their acts of terrorism throughout the last two decades have come to understand that the Taliban are unlikely to alter their policies or ideology for political expediency. They are an ideological regime and are likely to remain so regardless of any additional unnecessary concessions that future talks may entail.

“Amidst the ongoing struggle of our fellow compatriots in Afghanistan and the diaspora to resist and oppose the oppressive Taliban regime and establish a government that reflects their aspirations, we urge the UN and other international mediators to acknowledge and honor the will of the people of Afghanistan.”

The signatories call on the UN and its member states to “withhold” the upcoming meeting in Doha to discuss recognition of the Taliban, “Offer a public explanation about the controversial remarks of the Under-Secretary- General, Ms. Amina Mohammad, which have disrespected the sacrifices of the people of Afghanistan, especially its women, who are at the forefront of resisting a totalitarian regime.”

Shahrzad Akbar told KabulNow that:
“There is growing frustration & even disillusionment in Afghanistan’s human rights community both inside & outside the country with the UN’s lack of leadership and concrete action on human rights. Recently, we have been receiving mixed public messaging from top UN officials on Afghanistan adding to the frustration and mistrust. It is time for the UN to listen to the community & illustrate in action its commitment to human rights.”

Tabish Forugh, a democracy activist and a signatory of the letter said:
“I believe that engaging with the Taliban without the involvement of the people of Afghanistan is very dangerous for the UN and its pursuit of global peace and security. The Taliban has a long history of human rights abuses, and legitimizing such a repressive regime would set a dangerous precedent.”

Amina Mohammed’s remarks during a speech on 17 April, in which she said that the upcoming Doha meeting could be the “baby steps” towards recognising the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan drew widespread condemnations.

The US State Department said on Tuesday that the Taliban’s human rights abuses were a “key block” to the group’s recognition.