Taliban executed, forcibly disappeared over 100 ex-security personnel: Report
NEW DELHI: The Taliban have summarily executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in just four of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces since taking over the country on August 15, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday. Rezaul H Laskar
The Taliban, through their intelligence operations and access to records left behind by the Ashraf Ghani government, have also identified new targets for arrest and execution despite proclaiming an amnesty, the report said.
The Taliban leadership directed members of surrendering Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) units to register with them to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety. Individuals who registered were screened for ties to military, police, militia and special forces units or to commanders or former provincial authorities. The report said these screenings were used by the Taliban to detain and summarily execute or disappear individuals within days of registration.
The 25-page report, “No forgiveness for people like you – Executions and enforced disappearances in Afghanistan under the Taliban,” provided evidence of the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of ANSF who surrendered or were apprehended by the Taliban between August 15 and October 31.
HRW said it gathered credible information on more than 100 killings from Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar and Kunduz – four of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. The executions have generated fear among former officials and others who believed the Taliban takeover would lead to an end to “revenge attacks”.
“The Taliban leadership’s promised amnesty has not stopped local commanders from summarily executing or disappearing former Afghan security force members,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at HRW. “The burden is on the Taliban to prevent further killings, hold those responsible to account, and compensate the victims’ families.”
In just one example in the southern city of Kandahar in late September, Taliban forces went to the home of Baz Muhammad, who was employed by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the former spy agency, and arrested him. Relatives later found his body.
HRW said the Taliban carried out “abusive search operations, including night raids, to apprehend and, at times, forcibly disappear suspected former officials”.
“Taliban night raids are terrifying,” an unnamed civil society activist from Helmand province told HRW. “They are conducted on the pretext of disarming ex-security forces who have not surrendered weapons. Those that ‘disappear’ are [victims] of night raids...The families can’t even ask where [the person has been taken].”
During such searches, the Taliban threaten and abuse family members to make them reveal whereabouts of those in hiding. Some of those eventually apprehended were executed or taken into custody without acknowledgment that they are being held.
In Nangarhar province, the Taliban targeted people they accuse of supporting the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). As the UN has reported, Taliban operations against ISKP “rely heavily on extra-judicial detentions and killings”. Many of those killed were targeted because of Salafist views or tribal affiliations.
HRW’s findings are largely in line with reports from journalists and former government officials in recent months. Several former officials, both from the security forces and civilian administration, have spoken of Taliban fighters visiting their homes and carrying out searches. In several instances confirmed by people familiar with the matter, the Taliban have threatened or coerced parents and relatives of the former officials to ascertain their whereabouts.
On September 21, the Taliban announced the establishment of a commission to investigate reports of human rights abuses, corruption and other crimes. The commission has not announced any investigation into the reported killings, though it reported action against several Taliban members for stealing and corruption.
In a response to HRW on November 21, the Taliban said it dismissed those responsible for abuses but provided no information to corroborate this claim.