After more than two decades of U.S occupation in Afghanistan, there is little to show for after the Taliban took over the Afghan government, not even two weeks after troops began to be pulled from the country. In situations like this, it’s important to have all the information possible. So I created a bit of a breakdown as to what has been happening in Afghanistan and most importantly, the events of the past few weeks and what they mean for the future of the Afghan people. If you are looking for ways to get involved and help, check out the last section of this article, and always research for yourself as well!
The last Taliban rule in Afghanistan went on from 1996 to 2001, where they invoked many of their views about women and girls going to school and working and their control of public activities. Under Taliban rule, they imposed strict rules and regulations stemming from their authoritarian control.
In February, the U.S government and the Taliban in Afghanistan both signed a peace agreement, which allowed the release of up to 5000 Taliban fighters. While the Afghan government tried to refuse the release of 400 of those members, the U.S pushed and all 5000 members were eventually released (plus a few more than agreed upon), as were the 1000 Afghan security members that the Taliban had possession of.
The U.S Pulls Troops
On August 15th, it was announced that by August 31st, all U.S troops would be pulled out from the operations in Afghanistan, leaving the country in a vulnerable state. Since then, it has been reported that the Taliban has created a list of individuals whom they believe have worked with Afghan and U.S forces to keep them out of the government and without power. Amnesty International has confirmed that the Taliban is also after several independent media workers. Since taking over, they have cut cellphone services in some areas of the country to prevent any photos from being posted and keep Afghans in the dark.
So far, the Taliban has urged Afghan citizens not to flee the country, as many are doing now from the airport in Kabul. They have promised that they wish to be an “inclusive government”, but people are very skeptical, and their actions so far have shown they will not be following through with their word.
What is even more concerning is the way that U.S and European forces have all agreed to “do nothing” until after August 31st, leaving the state of Afghanistan in shambles and leaving the Afghan people in the hands of the Taliban. The U.S backed President has also fled the country and reportedly with cars full of cash. The fear in Afghanistan is growing quickly as U.S soldiers leave the country and Afghan people desperately try to make their way onto any flight.
Human Rights Violations
According to Amnesty International, the Taliban alone was responsible for almost 50% of all civilian casualties just between January 1st and September 31st. These alarming numbers are only expected to grow with them in power. Amnesty International also reported that the peace agreement between Afghanistan and the U.S made no mention of human rights or of women at all. While the Taliban is in rule, there is no question that women will be targeted, and that human rights will be of no priority to the authoritarian regime. Women in the country have been hiding out in their homes, not going to work, and keeping their daughters’ home from school.
As well, women have held a very small role in government operations in Afghanistan, even during the past 20 years. The blatant sexism, discrimination, and harassment they faced as women in provincial and local governments and being denied pay, shows that even with U.S forces in the country, women are still seriously affected by gender discrimination.
While the Taliban is in rule, there is no question that the rights of people will not be respected, considering the number of killings already done by the group thus far. People’s freedom of expression and speech are jeopardized as no one can speak out against the Taliban freely in Afghanistan, and some of the most vulnerable people in the country now are journalists and even UN members who have worked against the Taliban for years.
How you can help?
It seems almost impossible to help in a situation where the most powerful forces in the world are leaving such a country in the shape that it is in, but there is always something we can do. If you have the funds to donate, the UN Human Rights Committee and the International Committee of the Red Cross are accepting donations to help with the current food shortages and to offer medical help. An Afghan start-up called Ehtesab is also helping to provide civilians in the country with live updates online.
Sharing information is also crucial at this time. Below is a Wikipedia page created to show the new requirements for immigrants in Canada and the U.S. If you can share this, please do so!
A few resources to support women in Afghanistan are important; women for Afghan Women are currently accepting donations to support women in the country.
While we might be in all kinds of different places around the world, we can come together and help the Afghan people during this time. Reach out to your local politicians and let them know how important this issue is to you. TIME has included a few petitions if you are from either the U.S, U.K or Australia to lobby the government.
Once again, keep up to date on the news in Afghanistan, and do what you can to help the humanitarian crisis happening.