The Taliban killed at least 13 members of the Hazara ethnic group, including a 17-year-old girl, in central Daykundi province, shortly after taking power in Afghanistan, according to a new report from Amnesty International.
On August 30, a convoy of 300 Taliban fighters entered Khidr district and killed at least 11 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), nine of whom were taken to a nearby river basin where they were executed. Shortly after surrendering, the human rights group said in its report released on Tuesday.
A teenager, identified as Masuma, was killed in crossfire after the Taliban targeted Afghan forces trying to flee the area. Another civilian, Fayaz, a young married man in his twenties, was also among those killed in the crossfire.
The ANSF members who were killed were between 26 and 46 years old, Amnesty said. All of the victims were Hazara, who were persecuted during the Taliban’s first spell in power between 1996 and 2001.
This is the second murder of Hazaras documented by Amnesty. At least nine Hazara men were killed by Taliban fighters in Ghazni province in July before the group took power, Amnesty reported on August 19.
The Taliban and their rivals, Islamic State Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), an ISIS affiliate, have been accused of targeting the Hazara people, who constitute the majority of the Afghan Shiite population.
On September 1, the Taliban denied the killings. Saidqullah Abed, the Taliban-appointed police chief for Daykundi, only confirmed that one of their fighters was injured in a firefight.
Raihana Azad, a former provincial MP, also verified Amnesty’s report to Al Jazeera, saying the events of August 30 constituted “inhuman massacres” carried out by the Taliban.
She said what happened in Khidr was a direct violation of the Taliban’s demands for a nationwide general amnesty for former members of the security forces and officials.
“These cold-blooded executions are further proof that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses for which they were known under their previous regime in Afghanistan,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
During their five-year rule in the 1990s, the Taliban were accused of slaughtering hundreds of Hazaras in Balkh and Bamiyan provinces.
Zaman Sultani, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, said the Daykundi killings followed a clear Taliban pattern.
He cites as evidence a statement 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.
Azad, the former lawmaker, said the Taliban’s abuses in Daykundi did not end with the killings.
She says that since the Taliban captured the province on August 14, a day before former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, thousands of families have been forced from their homes in the Gizab and Pato districts of La mountainous province.
A list compiled by residents shows that up to 20,000 families have been forcibly displaced to at least 10 different villages in the past month and a half.
Residents of Daykundi speaking to Al Jazeera said that when the Taliban came to their home, fighters claimed families were illegally occupying the land or that a Taliban shura had ruled that the land “belongs to the people.”
No financial means
Azad says the vast expanse of land taken by the Taliban makes their reasoning hard to believe.
“If it was just one village, it may be legal issues, but it doesn’t make sense that there are land disputes in so many villages. “
She said that many families had lived on their land for generations: “They had the deeds in their hands.
Mohammad *, a resident of Gizab neighborhood, is one such person.
The 42-year-old says his wife and children were at home when the Taliban came to their door to demand they leave the property on September 23. Frightened and unsure of what to do, Mohammad’s nine family members left the house where they had lived. for decades.
“I was a child when this house was built. I planted the trees myself outside, ”Mohammad told Al Jazeera in Kabul, where his family now lives.
Before coming to the capital, Mohammad, a former employee of the Ministry of Education, tried to appeal to the Taliban, but he says it was to no avail, although the fighters who came to his house were from same neighborhood as him.
“I tried to explain to the Islamic Emirate, but they just said, ‘It has been decided that your land now belongs to the people.’ “
Even his act was for nothing. He was told that the decision was made in accordance with Islamic law. Like Azad, however, Mohammad struggles to reconcile the Taliban’s rationale, claiming that even in a Sharia court, land disputes can take months, if not years, to resolve.
“These things don’t happen in a matter of weeks,” Mohammad said.
Azad, the former MP, said that as the Afghan winter approaches, these forced evictions would lead to a humanitarian crisis in a mountainous province where it can take up to 14 hours to travel from district to district. capital of Nili.
“Without their homes and land, these people have no financial means to move elsewhere, so they are just left to live in tents in the fields,” Azad said.
Daykundi is considered one of the poorest and least developed provinces in Afghanistan. Most of the men in the province move to other cities or to Iran and Pakistan as a teenager to work as day laborers or in the mines.
These forced displacements appear to be in line with other reports about the Taliban prior to their takeover of Afghanistan. In July, Human Rights Watch released a report from northern Kunduz province alleging that the Taliban forced at least 400 families to flee their homes.
“The 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 Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera.
* Names changed to protect their identity.