Gravely Concerned About The Situation in Afghanistan With the Capture of State Power by the Taliban : AILAJ

Image Source: Hindustan Times

AILAJ is gravely concerned about the situation in Afghanistan with the capture of state power by the Taliban that has plunged the country into grave uncertainty. In the past week, there have been numerous reports of violent crimes against civilians and journalists, oppression of women and the systematic assault on human rights and civil liberties.  

AILAJ is also particularly concerned about the fate of about 270 women judges in the country who are facing risk. According to the Global Judicial Integrity Network (GJIN), “women judges (in Afghanistan) face an increased danger, not only due to their gender but also to the real risk of retaliation from the persons who they have previously sentenced and who have been released from prison.”International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) has reported that there have been deadly car-bomb attacks targeting Afghans who work in the courts, as well as their families. In January 2021, two female judges from Afghanistan’s Supreme Court were killed. AILAJ urges that women legal professionals including judges and their families who are in grave danger are ensured protection.

The present situation in Afghanistan is a culmination of gross interference into its domestic matters by outside powers, particularly the US, whether in facilitating the rise of the Taliban in the 1980s and 1990s or the post 9/11 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which saw bombings, drone strikes, and humiliation. But every excuse for the imperialist occupation now stands exposed: the US left the country twenty years later after transferring power to the same Taliban. Most know of the many rounds of bipartite negotiations with the Taliban, culminating in the bilateral agreement on February 29, 2020, agreeing to two “interconnected” guarantees: the withdrawal of all U.S. and international forces by May 2021, and unspecified Taliban action to prevent other groups (including Al Qaeda) from using Afghan soil to threaten the United States and its allies. Another important aspect of this agreement was the release of Taliban prisoners as a “confidence building measure”. US allies, and the Afghanistan Government, were excluded from the deal, and the US is effectively choosing to entrust the Taliban with the task of protecting its interests. The pact required the Taliban to commit only to ensure keep forces that “pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies” out of Afghan soil and the Taliban was not required to give any guarantees regarding the safety of Afghanistan’s people, minorities or women. The US must thus be held squarely accountable for the damage inflicted by its occupation as well as for Taliban rule, which is resulting in fear and insecurity for Afghanistan’s people. 

We are also concerned at the blatant efforts by India’s ruling party and allied Hindu-supremacist organisations to use the developments in Afghanistan to foment Islamophobia and communal polarization within India. By deliberately announcing that it will prioritize only Hindu and Sikh refugees from Afghanistan, the Government of India is discriminating against Muslim refugees, in the spirit of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act which excluded Muslim refugees from neighbouring countries from the offer of Indian citizenship. The fact that most of those fleeing Taliban-ruled Afghanistan are Muslim, underlines the absurdity of the CAA, which was premised on the false claim that only non-Muslims would seek refuge in India from Muslim-majority neighbouring countries including Afghanistan. Every day we see disturbing reports of “Taliban” being used as a term of abuse against Muslims. At the same time, one Tripura MLA from the ruling BJP asked his supporters to attack members of the main Opposition party “Taliban style.” While no action is taken against this blatant threat of brutal violence and massacre, 14 men in the state of Assam have been booked under UAPA for “posting pro-Taliban posts on social media”. It is outrageous and also ironic that in the name of opposing the Taliban which dictatorially tells Afghan people what to think, the BJP in India is dictatorially telling Indian social media users what to think and post, and jailing them for their views. The use of UAPA for such messages on social media once again demonstrate its draconian nature. 

AILAJ urges the Union Government to lend all assistance to Afghans who are presently in India. In particular, we urge the Union Government to allow Afghans to reside in India without compelling them to return to Afghanistan. Article 21 undoubtedly encompasses the principle of ‘non-refoulement’ i.e. the principle of international law that prohibits the expulsion of a person from a territory in which he or she seeks refuge or from forcible return to a country or a territory where he or she faces a threat to life or freedom because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion.

We call upon the legal fraternity to raise their voices against any effort to demonize and harass the Muslim community in India under the pretext of Afghanistan developments, and pressurize the Central Government to offer asylum to all persons from Afghanistan, irrespective of religion. Lastly we call on the legal fraternity to offer all aid and assistance, legal and otherwise, to Afghans, particularly students, who are presently in India.

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