Crime & Justice

Taliban has ‘done little’ to protect Afghan religious minorities, says HRW

Kabul, Sep 6 (EFE).- The Taliban government has “done little to protect” Shia Hazaras and other religious minorities in Afghanistan from a spate of attacks by Islamic State militants, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

An HRW statement noted that the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for 13 and has been linked to three attacks against Hazaras, killing and wounding at least 700 since the Taliban took in August 2021.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the April 19 suicide bombing at a school in a predominantly Hazara and Shia neighborhood that killed and injured 20 students, teachers, and staff.

The group also claimed responsibility for the April 21 suicide bombing at a Shia mosque in Mazar-e Sharif, which killed 31 people and wounded 87 others.

On April 27, unidentified men killed five Hazara men on their way to a coal mine in Samangan province.

The next day, a bomb explosion killed nine people and wounded 13 others in a minibus carrying Hazara passengers in Mazar-e Sharif.

“The Taliban authorities have done little to protect these communities from suicide bombings and other unlawful attacks or to provide necessary medical care and other assistance to victims and their families,” the rights group said.

The statement noted that the Taliban’s growing crackdown on the media means additional attacks were likely to have gone unreported.

“The Taliban have an obligation to protect at-risk communities and assist the victims of attacks and their families,” said HRW researcher Fereshta Abbasi.

The Hazaras are a predominantly Shia Muslim ethnic group that have faced alleged discrimination and abuse by successive Afghan governments for over a century.

With the Taliban back in power, the Hazara have been increasingly concerned for their safety and whether the new authorities will protect them.

Human Rights Watch remotely interviewed 21 survivors of attacks, and family members of victims, in Kabul and Mazar provinces between April and July, using secure communications.

“The Taliban never liked Hazaras,” a community member in Bamyan province told HRW. “Last time they were in power, they killed many of us.”

Taliban Interior Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khosty had previously assured security for religious minorities.

However, the statement said, the Taliban did not appear to have provided security in Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, and Kunduz provinces, where attacks have killed hundreds of people since January 2022.

“Our children need to go to school, our women need to visit hospitals, we want to go to mosques. For all these we need to feel safe. Stop killing us everywhere,” a Hazara resident in Kabul told HRW. EFE


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