In Their Struggle for Freedom and Democracy

Against Imperialist Interference and Oppressive Taliban Rule

(A statement and call for solidarity actions signed by democratic groups across India)

The end of a twenty year old US occupation has brought no relief for the people of Afghanistan. The takeover of the country by the Taliban has created a situation of chaos, crisis, uncertainty, and fear. The last time the Taliban was in power, it had unleashed a reign of terror, arbitrary and brutal diktats and punishments, and complete loss of personal freedom. Desperate to escape such a fate and fearful for their freedom, rights, and lives, thousands of Afghan people are fleeing the country.

Inside Afghanistan, every day brings news of new Taliban atrocities. The Taliban has massacred people of the Hazara minority community, killed the kin of a Deutsche Welle journalist, forced a woman TV anchor to be replaced by a man, is conducting a door-to-door witch-hunt and abduction of dissidents; is violently attacking journalists, killing at least one, and has shot dead protestors in the streets. The Taliban has declared that it is their authorities who will decide how far women can study, what subjects they can study, what jobs they can hold; and what they must wear. Already reports are coming in of Taliban attacks on women. Displaying incredible courage, women are protesting with handmade posters on the streets of Kabul; and Afghan men and women all over the country are protesting the Taliban takeover with Afghan flags in their hands, facing Taliban bullets in the process. It is these fighting democratic people of Afghanistan who need us to extend solidarity and amplify their voice.

Many international actors bear responsibility for Afghanistan’s tragic fate today. The Soviet military intervention in 1979 at the behest of the then Afghan Government, made Afghanistan the scene for Cold War competition between the Soviet Union and the USA. The US pumped money and arms to back the mujahideen forces against the Soviet-backed army. It was in this backdrop that the Taliban could emerge. In 2001, the US and its allies again led a military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, in the name of liberating Afghanistan’s people and especially its women from Taliban rule and destroying the Taliban and other terrorist outfits based in the country.

The latest developments have thoroughly exposed the lies that served as pretexts for the invasion and occupation. Under the US occupation, Afghan people were subject to bombings, drone strikes, and arbitrary raids and killings by the occupying armies and their hired private mercenaries. The US occupation actually enabled the Taliban to consolidate itself. The US, having decided to exit Afghanistan, set up unilateral negotiations with the Taliban, excluding its allies as well as the Afghan Government. This culminated in a US-Taliban pact which made it clear that for all purposes the US was transferring power to the Taliban. With the mask of “war on terror”, “war for democracy” and “war to protect Afghan women” having come off, the occupation stands exposed as a cynical and violent imperialist exercise intended to subjugate Afghanistan and serve US interests.

Today, the liberties and lives of Afghanistan’s feminists, human rights activists, care workers, welfare workers are all in especial danger from the Taliban. Refugees fleeing the Taliban are risking their lives in conditions that display their desperation. Among refugees hanging onto the wings of a place leaving Kabul, two men – a 20-year-old football player and a 25-year-old doctor – fell to their deaths. Refugees face apathy, as well as hostility and violence in countries where they are seeking refuge.

The Government of India is yet to make its stand on the Taliban clear. Meanwhile leaders of the ruling BJP and the Hindu-supremacist RSS have unleashed a hate campaign against India’s Muslims, equating all Muslims and Islam itself with the regressive and oppressive Taliban. The Government has also shamefully referenced the CAA which goes against the Indian constitution’s assurance of equal citizenship to all irrespective of faith or other factors, and announced that it will “prioritise” Hindu and Sikh refugees from Afghanistan.

We in India who resist the BJP-RSS agenda of imposing regressive and oppressive bans on what we can eat, think, write, sing, and speak; and whom we can love, and the violent lynch mobs who enforce these bans, stand with the people of Afghanistan in their struggle to assert their right to live and take decisions freely. We who defend India’s Constitution and flag against the RSS and BJP’s attacks, stand with Afghan people as they defend their country’s Constitution and flag and demand that only a constitutionally elected parliament be allowed to pass or amend laws or national symbols.

We demand that:

  1. Afghans must get the opportunity to elect a new government and the Taliban, which has started rolling back women's existing freedom and rights in Afghanistan, must not be allowed to impose itself as the new regime. An inclusive interim arrangement must be ushered in to hold early elections under UN supervision.

  2. An international tribunal be set up to ensure justice for the war crimes committed by the US and NATO in the course of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

  3. The UN Human Rights Council must initiate a fact-finding mission to identify and bring to justice all perpetrators of atrocities and violence against Afghan civilians – including the occupying armed forces as well as the Taliban and other armed groups. Taliban leaders must also be brought to justice for every atrocity they inflicted on women and minorities in the past.

  4. United Nations Security General, the UN Human Rights Council, international human rights organizations and the international community must act to ensure that Afghan women’s rights groups are the centre of any negotiations and other processes to ensure a just peace and secure the rights of all Afghan people.

  5. The Government of India cease any attempt to distinguish between Afghan refugees on the basis of faith or identity, and instead open the country’s doors to offer safe refuge to any Afghan refugees in need.

  6. The Government of India waste no time in bringing back all Indian citizens from Afghanistan (while the embassy staff have been brought back, hundreds of others still remain stranded without any clear exit plan, support, or guidance). The Government of India must also make every effort to bring Afghan students enrolled in Indian educational institutions to Indian soil.
  7. The Government of India must ensure the safety of all Afghan nationals residing in India

  8. The Election Commission of India must ensure that Afghanistan and the Taliban are not used as pretexts for hate speech during campaigns for state elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab that are due soon.

  9. That UNHCR expedite refugee status registration for Afghan refugees arriving in India, so that they can secure employment or education as needed.

  10. Single Window System for applying for fellowships, scholarships, visa issues and any other issue Afghan students are facing.

  11. We also appeal to the Indian people and people’s movement groups to
  • On 23 August, organise solidarity actions (demonstrations, sit-ins, vigils) in all states with Afghan people’s struggle for freedom, peace, and justice
  • Extend help, cooperation and a warm welcome to Afghan refugees
  • Reject and resist all attempts to stoke Islamophobia in India using the Taliban as a pretext.

Endorsed by:
Aawaaz-E-Niswaan, AIPWA, AISA, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), All India, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Tanzeem e Insaaf, ANHAD, Bebaak Collective, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur), Communalism Combat, Community For Human Development, FAOW, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA), Haryana Gyan Vigyan Samiti, HRF, INSAF, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas Memorial Trust, Khudai Khidmtgar, Muslim Women's Forum, NAPM, NFIW, North East Network, OBR India, PUCL, SabrangIndia, SAHELI, South Asia Solidarity Group, UAH and many others.

Afghan People