Taliban Execute, ‘Disappear’ Former Afghan Forces: Human Rights Watch

Since taking power in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters have killed or disappeared former members of Afghan police, army and intelligence directorate, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch.

Despite a general amnesty, more than 100 members of the former security services have been killed or disappeared in four provinces between August 15 and October 31 this year, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Tuesday.

The report is based on 67 interviews, including 40 face-to-face interviews in Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz, and Kandahar provinces. The rights group’s investigation also shows that since taking power in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters hunted down family members of former security forces.

The brother of a former member of the security forces told Human Rights Watch that the Taliban searched his house and arrested his older brother. Furthermore, two days later, they released his older brother and arrested his younger brother, whose fate is still unknown.

Human Rights Watch documented the arrest and enforced disappearance of 47 former members of the security services, including Afghan Police, Army, and members of the National Directorate of Security, from 15 August to 31 October. The report focuses on Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces. There are more such cases in Afghanistan’s Khost, Paktia, Paktika, and other cities, according to Human Rights Watch. Earlier, there have been reports from Ghor province that local Taliban fighters had arrested and then killed former members of security forces. However, the Taliban’s Commission for reforming the military ranks has stated that no member of the Taliban has the right to inspect or harass anyone arbitrarily.

Human Rights Watch says that the executions and the enforced disappearance of former security forces took place despite a general amnesty. Taliban leaders have assured former military and civilian officials that they would hold their fighters accountable for violating the amnesty decree, but that this has happened nonetheless.

The rights group’s findings show that in the weeks leading up to the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, retaliatory killings had been increased. This included targeting government officials in major cities and along highways. According to the report, this was evident in July, when the Taliban intensified their operations around Kandahar and executed surrendered and captured members of the security forces. Similar patterns have emerged in other provinces since August 15.

The report also reveals that the Taliban had pursued new goals in detaining and identifying members of the former security services through intelligence gatherings and access to the former government’s records. Baz Mohammad, a resident of Paktika province, was a member of the National Directorate of Security when he was raided by Taliban forces on September 30 and arrested. Later, his relatives only found his body. According to Human Rights Watch, the killing took place about 45 days after the Taliban took control of the country, indicating that senior Taliban officials ordered or at least knew about the executions. The executions have sparked fears among former government officials and those who believe the Taliban are ending armed violence.

Human Rights Watch also reported that the Taliban leadership had instructed members of the former Afghan security forces who had surrendered to obtain a warrant. However, in addition to being required to surrender weapons, those who have obtained a warrant are also being monitored, the report said. in the meantime, the Taliban apply these measurements to detain, execute or make people disappear, handing over their bodies to the relatives.

However, many interviewees have expressed concern that if they seek protection from the Taliban, they may first be identified and face violent retaliation. The Taliban also searched for and arrested those who failed to register, according to the report.

As they took control of Kabul on August 15, the Taliban announced a general amnesty, saying that security forces, civilian officials, and all those who had worked in the previous government would be included in the amnesty program. Since then, numerous reports of house-to-house searches and mysterious killings of members of former security agencies have been published in the media. The Taliban-led government has not yet responded to the recent Human Rights Watch report.

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