20 years after the defeat of the Taliban regime at the hands of the US following 9/11, the people of Afghanistan were caught between the Middle East policies of the USA, NATO and the EU and the oppressive policies of the corrupt government supported by the USA. Today they are facing new and severe dangers.
The Doha Agreement signed between the Taliban forces and the USA in February 2020 gave rise to today’s crisis. With the withdrawal of foreign military forces stationed in Afghanistan, Taliban forces have taken over almost all of the country, including Kabul. The USA has suffered its most crushing defeat since Vietnam.
Despite the peace talks, the armed conflict continued to claim civilian victims, and the number of internally displaced persons increased. Violence across Afghanistan continued in 2020 and 2021 as the USA and the coalition increased air strikes and raids targeting the Taliban, proving air cover for government forces, and frequently killing civilians. The Taliban and others, despite their lack of air power, continued to attack government and coalition forces, also killing civilians. All these killings amounted to war crimes.
With the fall of Kabul, the images and news reflected in the press and social media are only the visible side of the tragedy that the Afghan peoples are facing. The people who fell and died by hanging on the wings of airplanes at the airport in order to escape from the Taliban regime are the most concise expression of their fears of the reality of the Taliban. There are women who are reported to have committed suicide to escape the threat of rape and forced marriage if the Taliban conduct themselves as they did 20 years ago. The risk faced by surviving women is well known. Mass executions, civilian deaths, and other war crimes by the Taliban have been the subject of dozens of reports over the past years. There have also been many reports of war crimes, use of drones for assassination, and massacres of civilians by bombing, perpetrated by the USA and its allies. It may be simply naive to hope that the Taliban will respect fundamental rights and freedoms, which they did not in their previous rule.
It is unacceptable for the powers that contributed to the human tragedy in Afghanistan today to see the problem as a wave of migration and refugees that could hit Europe. Austria and Greece announced that they would not accept Afghan refugees immediately after the fall of Kabul. France even refrains from taking steps to secure the right to life of Afghans it employed. The UK, the main ally of the USA, which attempted to colonise Afghanistan in 1841, has a terrible record with regard to refugees and migrants. The USA, on the other hand, makes calls for an inclusive government as if it is not one of the main architects of this whole process, and as always, does not take any responsibility for what happened.
As European Lawyers, we want it to be known that we are in solidarity with the Afghan people first of all. We do not accept that the Afghan people are forced to choose between imperialist occupation and Taliban oppression.
It is our call to all our members, the international legal community and democratic institutions:
- Today, we have to defend the right of asylum of refugees from Afghanistan, whose fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to life, are at risk.
- We have to make the voices of Afghan women and girls heard and to give them our full solidarity in the face of the imminent danger they face.
- We have to denounce the racism of European governments, which is escalated with the “fear of immigration” developed by the states in the countries we live in.
- Just as before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan cannot be considered a safe country of origin.
We also call out to all states and international institutions that play a role in Afghanistan’s present situation:
- Accept your responsibility for the threatening situation in which democratic forces and women in particular find themselves in Afghanistan.
- Open humanitarian corridors and evacuations to European and other countries for anyone in a vulnerable condition, guaranteeing their safety and security
- Do not omit any possible assistance so that Afghans can apply for asylum and be granted asylum, not only for former employees of the military forces and the embassies
- Immediate halt to deportations to Afghanistan.