Afghanistan: Religious minorities “at extreme risk of being targeted with deadly violence”

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The following quote may be attributed to Giorgio Mazzoli, Legal Officer, United Nations for ADF International in Geneva regarding the situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan. He made an oral statement at the 31st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the serious human rights concerns and situation in Afghanistan on 24 August 2021.:

“ADF International is deeply concerned about the fast-deteriorating security and human rights situation in Afghanistan. The harrowing prospects for freedom, democracy and the rule of law, compounded by a deepening humanitarian crisis, are forcing thousands of Afghan men, women and children into displacement within the country, and compelling many more to seek escape from persecution and oppression.

The unfolding situation on the ground requires an immediate, robust and coordinated response from the international community, whereby respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is considered as an absolute prerequisite for a credible peace and reconciliation process.

ADF International wishes to draw the Council’s attention to the dire plight of religious minority communities in Afghanistan, who had already been living in a hostile legal and social environment for decades and are now at extreme risk of being targeted with deadly violence. Among them are an estimated ten thousand Christians, many of whom “guilty” of converting from Islam – a crime punishable by death under Sharia law. As disturbing accounts of killings, harassment and intimidation against them are rapidly emerging, we urge States and the international community to give utmost attention to these persecuted minorities and guarantee the conditions for their prompt and safe exit from the country, irrespective of whether they have valid travel documents.

On a similar note, while we applaud efforts to evacuate and resettle vulnerable persons and urge all parties to secure their safe passage out of the country, we join the call on governments to temporarily halt deportations to Afghanistan and reconsider the applications of rejected Afghan asylum seekers fearing persecution because of their faith or beliefs.”