Taliban forces illegally killed 13 Hazara ethnic groups, most of them Afghan soldiers who surrendered to the insurgents, a leading human rights group said on Tuesday.
The killings took place on August 30 in the village of Kahor in Daykundi province in central Afghanistan, according to an Amnesty International investigation. Eleven of the victims were members of the Afghan National Security Forces and two were civilians, including a 17-year-old girl.
The reported killings took place around two weeks after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in a blitz, culminating with their takeover of Kabul. At the time, Taliban leaders sought to reassure Afghans that they had changed from their former domination of the country in the late 1990s.
The world watched whether the Taliban would live up to their initial promises of tolerance and inclusion towards women and ethnic minorities, including the Hazara Shiites. However, the Taliban’s actions so far, such as renewing restrictions on women and appointing an all-male government, have been greeted with dismay by the international community.
The Taliban doubled their hard line on Monday in a third round of Afghan government appointments that included a multitude of men appointed to deputy positions, a spokesperson said. None of the 38 new appointments announced by chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid was female. They were composed of members entirely from the Taliban with little representation of minority groups. Also included are appointments to humanitarian organizations.
These appointments are the latest indication that the Taliban government does not intend to heed the conditions of the international community that formal recognition of their power would depend on their treatment of women and minority groups. Among the new appointments were a political assistant for the prime minister, deputy ministers and the deputy director of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. Most of the posts were made up of commanders and deputies from the military and the defense ministry in the Afghan provinces, including Kabul, Helmand, Herat and Kandahar.
The Hazara ethnic group represents about 9% of the 36 million inhabitants of Afghanistan. Amnesty General Secretary Agnes Callamard said “these cold-blooded executions (of the Hazaras) are further proof that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses they were notorious for during their previous rule over Afghanistan “.
The human rights group said Sadiqullah Abed, the Taliban-appointed police chief for Daykundi, denied any killings took place and only said that a member of the Taliban was injured during of an attack in the province.
The Taliban took control of Daykundi province on August 14, according to the Amnesty report, and around 34 former soldiers sought refuge in Khidir district. The soldiers, who had military equipment and government weapons with them, agreed to surrender to the Taliban.
Mohammad Azim Sedaqat, who led the group’s surrender, arranged to withdraw the weapons in the presence of Taliban operatives. On August 30, around 300 Taliban fighters arrived in a convoy near the village of Dahani Qul, where members of the security forces were staying, some with family members, according to the Amnesty report.
As security forces tried to leave the area with their families, Taliban fighters caught up with them and opened fire on the crowd, killing a 17-year-old girl named Masuma.
A soldier retaliated, killing one Taliban fighter and injuring another. The Taliban continued to fire as families fled, killing two soldiers, according to the report.
After nine security forces surrendered, the Taliban took them to a nearby river basin and killed them, according to the rights group. Amnesty said it verified the photographs and video evidence taken following the killings.
A former member of the provincial parliament, Raihana Azad, called the events “inhuman mass killings” by the new Afghan rulers. Azad said the direct murder on August 30 violated the Taliban’s demands for a blanket amnesty for all former Afghan soldiers and officials.
During their five-year rule in the 1990s, the Taliban were accused of murdering hundreds of Hazaras in Balkh and Bamiyan provinces.
Zaman Sultani, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, said the recent Daykundi massacres are a continuation of a series of unlawful killings by the group. He cited as evidence statements interviewees attributed to a senior Taliban official: “I have killed people over the past 20 years. Killing is easy for me. I can kill again, ”the official reportedly told residents of Daykundi.
Taliban atrocities did not end in Daykundi, as thousands were forced to leave their homes in Gizab and Pato districts on August 14, just a day before former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani escapes from the capital Kabul, leaving the citizens in the hands. unpredictable Taliban. Some 20,000 families from at least 10 villages have been forcibly displaced in the past month and a half.
“If it was only one village, it is possible that it is legal problems, but it does not make sense that there are land conflicts in so many villages”, Azad told Doha-based Al-Jazeera. “Without their homes and land, these people don’t have the financial means to move elsewhere, so they are just left to live in tents in the fields.
Forced displacement also took place in the northern province of Kunduz. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a July report that the Taliban forced at least 400 families to flee their homes.
“Forced displacement of civilians is illegal unless it is required for the safety of affected civilians or absolutely necessary for military reasons. Retaliatory attacks are a form of collective punishment and are also prohibited, ”Patricia Gossman, associate director for Asia at HRW, told Al-Jazeera.
Fears of further escalation in Afghanistan amid reports of human rights abuses keep the international community hesitant to recognize the self-proclaimed Taliban government as legitimate and to start cooperating with it.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that the next G-20 summit must send a clear message to the Afghan Taliban on the conditions for its international recognition.
In an interview with France Inter radio on Tuesday, Macron said these conditions must include equality for women, access to foreign humanitarian operations and non-cooperation with terrorist groups.
“I think that international recognition must come at a price, and the dignity of Afghan women, equality between men and women, must be one of the points on which we insist, and must be a condition for us”, Macron said, according to Reuters.
Referring to the G-20 summit due to take place in Rome later this month, Macron said: “We are going to talk about Afghanistan. We absolutely must, that is, we Europeans, Americans, China, Russia, the great powers of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America all together, we must have a very clear message that we are going to lay down the conditions for the recognition of the Taliban. “
The Taliban seek international support as they grapple with the daunting challenges of an economy on the brink of collapse, drought and a growing threat to the security of the terrorist group Daesh.
Since the group took control of Afghanistan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have suspended their disbursements in Kabul. The United States has frozen billions of dollars in assets held in American accounts by the Afghan central bank. Foreign aid previously accounted for nearly 75% of Afghanistan’s public spending, according to a World Bank report. Without these funds, the Taliban are unable to pay public sector wages, precipitating a spiraling economic crisis.