Intl community must unite to urge Taliban to respect human rights

A government that does not fulfill its responsibility to protect human rights and deter terrorism will find it difficult to obtain recognition of the legitimacy of its rule and economic assistance from the international community.

What is required is actual action, not mere words.

Turmoil has been deepening in Afghanistan, where the Islamist Taliban have seized power.

A spate of incidents occurred in which Taliban fighters fired at protesters, and in which they have searched for and detained people who were related to the collapsed government led by ousted President Ashraf Ghani, as well as those who cooperated with foreign governments in roles such as interpreters. The number of women on the streets has decreased significantly, and female state TV news anchors have been replaced by men.

Senior Taliban members have been stressing their stance for national reconciliation at press conferences and on other occasions. Under the current circumstances, however, it is inevitable for people to think that the repression seen when the Taliban were in power until 2001 will come again.

The airport in the capital, Kabul, has been inundated with frightened people trying to escape, adding to the confusion. Due to interference by the Taliban, many people are reportedly unable to reach the airport.

Basic freedom and equal rights for men and women are universal values stipulated in the U.N. Charter. However, the Taliban now state that they will guarantee the human rights of the people within the scope of Islamic law.

Considering the past history of the Taliban banning women from education and employment and imposing brutal punishments based on their own extreme interpretation of Islamic law, it is unlikely that the Taliban will protect human rights at a level that meets international standards.

The Taliban themselves face problems of ambiguity in their chain of command and a shortage of personnel with administrative capabilities. Unless the Taliban fundamentally change their governing method and cooperate with various ethnic groups and political forces in the country, they will face deadlocks sooner or later.

The Group of Seven industrialized countries held an online summit meeting and confirmed a policy of prioritizing the evacuation of their citizens and Afghans who have cooperated with them. Japan has also dispatched Self-Defense Forces aircraft to Afghanistan.

The United States, which manages the Kabul airport, should consider extending the deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops if the evacuations are not completed by the end of this month.

In their statement, the G7 leaders expressed their position that the Taliban must act in accordance with international law on human rights and other issues before they approve the legitimacy of a future government.

Foreign aid accounts for most of Afghanistan’s national budget. Stopping criminal activities such as drug trafficking and severing ties with terrorist organizations should be a precondition for foreign assistance to continue under the Taliban.

China and Russia need to cooperate with the G7 efforts to push for changes in the Taliban. They must be aware that allowing the Taliban to take a hard-line stance would destabilize the region and also harm the interests of those two nations.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Aug. 26, 2021.