Photo: Milad Hamadi for the Tasnim News Agency, Licensed under CC BY 4.0

Amnesty International Exposes Dire Human Rights Situation Under Taliban Rule

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – Amnesty International says that under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, ethnic groups, religious minorities, and members of LGBT community have faced extreme discrimination, growing marginalization, and prejudice.

In its detailed report titled “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” released on Tuesday, April 23, Amnesty International has documented human rights concerns in 155 countries around the world during 2023.

The international rights group noted that in Afghanistan, religious minorities, including Shia, Sikhs, Christians, Ahmadyya, and Ismailis, continue to face discrimination, as the Taliban ensured that formal religious teaching is exclusively based on the Sunni sect of Islam.

“The Taliban excluded Shia jurisprudence from the education system so that religious teaching was exclusively based on the Sunni sect of Islam,” Amnesty International said.  “Restrictions on religious events and celebrations were imposed citing security reasons. These included restrictions on the Ashura commemoration in July, which is mainly observed by Shia Muslims,” it added.

According to the report, under Taliban rule, people from the Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek, and Turkmen ethnic groups face growing marginalization and forced eviction from their homes and lands, while members of the Baluch community are reportedly detained and forcibly disappeared.

The report further highlights the longstanding dispute between local Hazaras and the Taliban-supported Pashtun nomads (Kochis) in central parts of Afghanistan, pointing out that the Taliban settled disputes over lands and livestock in favor of the nomads.

According to the report, the Taliban forced local Hazara communities to pay compensation for cases related to missing livestock dating back decades.

“There were reportedly instances of Kochi communities attacking Hazara residents.”

The Kochis, predominantly Pashtun tribes from the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal belt, claim ownership of vast areas of land across Afghanistan, particularly in the central highlands where Hazara community live. They claim that the lands have been given to them by Afghan monarchs as early as the 19th century.

Every year during spring, armed nomads venture across Afghanistan, equipped with heavier weaponry and backed by political support. In the name of claiming their land, they resort to burning houses, looting property, killing villagers, holding people hostage for ransom, and destroying agricultural crops.

In addition to beating Hazaras and destroying their properties, Amnesty International says that last year, the Taliban-backed Kochis killed dozens of local Hazaras in several provinces of Afghanistan.

“six Hazara men were killed between June and August in Khas Urozgan area, Urozgan province. In October, two Hazaras were reportedly killed at the border between Lal wa Srajangal and Dawlat Yar districts of Ghor province. Several killings of Hazara men, including religious leaders, were reported in Herat province in November and December.”

The US Department of State previously reported a similar situation concerning local Hazaras in Afghanistan. In its annual report on human rights practices in Afghanistan released on April 22, the department indicated that at least 13 Hazara residents in central Uruzgan province had been killed over the past two years as part of a campaign to forcibly displace them from their native lands and homes.

The report from the US Department of State quoted its source, saying that Taliban-backed Pashtun nomads warned Hazara locals in central Afghanistan with the statement, “the history of the Hazara people was over in the country.”

In its report, Amnesty International also highlights the struggles of LGBTI people in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, noting that same-sex relations remain illegal and punishable by death, and the community continues to face a myriad of human rights violations. 

“Many continued to live in hiding, fearing a risk to their lives, while some incidents of forced marriages of LGBTI people were also reported,” Amnesty International said.