Statement on the 2- Year Anniversary of the Fall of Kabul
Today, we mark the 2-year anniversary of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. This significant event continues to remind us of the challenges and complexities of global security and stability. As we reflect on this day, it is essential to acknowledge the immense sacrifice made by the Afghan people, particularly those who risked their lives in the pursuit of a better future for their country.
The Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 had devastating consequences for its the Afghan people. The progress made in women's rights, education, health, and overall development was jeopardised, and many Afghans faced uncertainties and unimaginable hardships. Diplomatic ties were abandoned leaving the Afghan people in limbo, under the brutal regime of The Taliban, who continue to seek legitimacy as the de-facto leadership of Afghanistan. The international community looked on with concern and sorrow as Afghanistan experienced a significant setback on its journey towards becoming a peaceful and prosperous nation, whilst turning their backs on 20 years of western led intervention to stabilise a country ravaged by terrorist ideology, and Islamist extremism.
The Taliban takeover has seen total abandonment of law and order, increased attacks on the Hazara community.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hazara it is my job to raise the plight of the Hazara and advocate for a safe, inclusive Afghanistan free from identity based persecution for this incredible group.
The Hazara community, an ethnic group in Afghanistan, has historically faced discrimination and persecution due to their ethnic and religious background. As predominantly Shia Muslims in a country where the majority follow Sunni Islam, their differences have made them targets of violence and hatred.
In recent years, the situation has worsened. Following the fall of Afghanistan, extremist groups such as the Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS) have increased their targeted attacks against the Hazara community. These attacks, often carried out through suicide bombings, shootings, and kidnappings, deliberately aim to instill fear and undermine the Hazara community's sense of security and belonging.
Tragically, innocent Hazara civilians have been targeted in places where they should feel safe—mosques, educational institutions, and public gatherings. One devastating incident that remains etched in our memories occurred in 2018 when a suicide bombing at an educational centre in Kabul claimed the lives of over 40 people, mostly students. These attacks not only take lives but also shatter the hopes and dreams of an entire community.
The Afghan government faced criticism for its inability to provide adequate protection to the Hazara community and bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice, attacks we have seen on the rise with the Taliban takeover in August 2021. It is imperative that the government continue to take decisive action and own dialogue to ensure the safety and security of all its citizens, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.
Furthermore, international human rights organisations and the United Nations have raised their voices in condemnation of these attacks. They have called for measures to protect the Hazara community and hold the perpetrators accountable for their heinous crimes. The international community must continue to exert pressure on all parties involved to prioritise the protection and well-being of the Hazara community.
We must stand together in solidarity with the Hazara community and demand an end to these senseless acts of violence. We cannot allow innocent lives to be lost due to prejudice and hatred. It is our shared responsibility to advocate for peace, justice, and equality for all.
The United Nation Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan, Richard Bennett raised deep concern about the continued threats and attacks, both physical and verbal, against the Hazaras and religious minorities. In his September 2022 report, he stated that the these attacks, frequently claimed by ISIL-K, and “the historical persecution of Hazaras and other minorities noted above [in his report], appear to be systematic in nature and reflect elements of an organisational policy, thus bearing hallmarks of international crimes, including crimes against humanity.”
On 30th September 2022, an attack against Kaaj education centre in west of Kabul (inhabited mainly by Hazaras) killed 56 and injured over 90, mainly Hazara girls. This is just one example of many attacks Hazaras have faced in Afghanistan. Many experts believe the systematic persecution of Hazara amounts to crimes of genocide.
However, amidst the darkness, there have been glimmers of hope. The resilience and determination of the Afghan people have not wavered. Their unwavering spirit inspires us to renew our commitment to supporting them in their efforts to rebuild their lives and their nation. It is imperative that we work hand-in-hand with Afghan civil society, humanitarian organisations, and regional partners to provide essential assistance to those affected by conflict and to ensure humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.
While the challenges are immense, we must remain united in our pursuit of lasting peace and stability for Afghanistan. It is crucial for the international community to engage in meaningful dialogue, utilising diplomatic channels to support an inclusive and representative government that can address the legitimate needs and aspirations of all Afghans. This commitment should include advocating for the protection of human rights and the empowerment of marginalised communities, particularly women and girls, who must be included in all decision-making processes.
Let us not forget the sacrifices made by our brave military personnel and international partners who dedicated their efforts to assist Afghanistan. We owe them our gratitude and must ensure their contributions were not in vain. A stable Afghanistan is in the interest of global security, and we must remain steadfast in our support to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for extremism and terrorism, which would pose a threat to all nations.
Commenting on the two-year anniversary, Lord Alton of Liverpool, vice-chair of the APPG on Hazara said:
"It has been two years since the fall of Kabul - ushering in a cruel new reality that has been forcibly imposed on all the people of Afghanistan. As the situation receives less and less attention, horrific atrocities flourish in the shadows - including the atrocities perpetrated against the Hazara. " Last year, the Hazara Inquiry, which I chaired, published a damning report about the serious risk of genocide. "Unfortunately, the red-light warnings have not been acted upon and so the suffering of the community continues, and the perpetrators mistakenly believes they can carry out their abominations with impunity. "The Taliban often say of the democratic world – ‘you have the clocks, and we have the time’. We have to prove them wrong and demonstrate with persistence and resolve that, however long it takes, those responsible for reprehensible crimes will one day be held to account. We owe it to those who have borne inordinate suffering - especially the Hazara and Afghanistan's women."
On this day, let us remember the fallen, stand in solidarity with the Afghan people, and recommit ourselves to working towards a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. We must harness the lessons learned from the past and strive to build a future where the rights and dignity of all Afghan citizens are upheld, and where Afghanistan becomes a symbol of hope, resilience, and progress, a safer Afghanistan free from religious persecution, liberalism, and unity. Where all people, regardless of faith or identity can live together as one. Whilst the Taliban are in power, we will continue to see an eradication of rights for women and girls, and the Hazara community.