Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations Express Serious Concerns for Afghan Civil Society

The undersigned civil society and human rights organizations express deep concern over a wave of kidnappings and murders of Afghan journalists and civil society activists. We call for an immediate end to violence against those working for human and civil rights in Afghanistan.

Afghan civil society is working for peace even under threat and with the smell of blood and gunpowder all around them. In recent months, threats, kidnappings, and assassinations have directly targeted Afghan journalists and civil society activists. In just 3 days, 15 targeted assassinations took place in Kabul, many of which targeted women. Six of whom were women who worked as human rights activists, journalists, and doctors.

What is happening in Afghanistan today echoes the era of chain murders in Iran (1988-1998), that resulted in the killing of 80 people, among them writers, translators, poets, political activists, and others. Their murders changed the course of history in Iran by eliminating the voices and ideas of people who could have impacted Iran’s society and culture. We see something similar in Afghanistan: a loss of unimaginable proportions through the murders and forced disappearances of people who would have had a voice in Afghanistan’s future. Undoubtedly, this will change the trajectory towards peace and democracy in the entire region. Especially now, with international talks determining the future power brokers of Afghanistan.

It is reckless to assume that what is happening in Afghanistan will not affect Iran’s civil society as well. The losses caused by the forced disappearances and assassinations of Afghan civil activists will change the political, social, and cultural relations domestically and with its neighbors.

The people of Afghanistan are squeezed between several violent forces, internally and externally. Hardliners in the Islamic Republic of Iran are complicit in weakening Afghanistan’s civil institutions and putting pressure on Afghan society. Not only that, we see increased pressure on the Afghan community living inside Iran. This is shown by the introduction of the inhumane bill entitled Organizing Illegal Aliens, which would give carte blanche to further repress Afghans living in Iran.

The calls for repression of Afghans inside Iran have grown even louder since Tolonews’s Lotfullah Najafizada interview with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Afghans in Iran have been subject to racist and xenophobic campaigns. Some are calling for “an end to the party” for Afghans living in Iran and demanding harsh prison sentences for any Afghan national without official documents.

The interference from Iran combined with the US talks with the Taliban all ignore the needs and desires of the people of Afghanistan, as well as abandoning journalists, activists, artists, and students to political violence. There is a connection between the targeted killings and harassment and talks with Taliban figures over the future of Afghanistan.

We believe that the Afghan people are the only legitimate decision-makers for the future of their country. They should be free to determine their future both without the interference of other countries, particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran, and without political power given to groups that have terrorized the people of Afghanistan and committed crimes against humanity.

We, the undersigned human rights and civil society organizations, consider the threats and violence against civil society activists in Afghanistan as a threat to the future peace and stability of the entire region. We call on the government of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the United Nations, and other institutions to do their utmost to protect the lives and civic participation of Afghan journalists and civil society activists and to ensure that Afghans inside Iran and Afghanistan can live in peace.

All Human Rights for All in Iran

Arseh Sevom

Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran

Association pour les Droits Humains au Kurdistan d’Iran-Genève (KMMK-G)

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Miaan Group

United for Iran

The Ward & Brown Foundation