On August 13, 2021, the Taliban completed their sweep of Afghanistan as they took the capital city of Kabul two weeks before the US and coalition forces are set to officially end their two-decades-long war. Over the past 20 years, the Taliban and other armed groups deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects in violation of international humanitarian law; sites that were attacked included a maternity hospital and educational institutions. There was no accountability for these crimes as impunity persisted. likewise, Afghan university students and scholars face threats to their work and ability to continue their education, careers and lives. The deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is exacerbating preexisting challenges, including poverty, hunger, and escalating violence in the country. In recent weeks, reports of war crimes, including summary executions, public beatings, and flogging of women, sexual violence, and forced marriage, have surfaced in the areas captured by the Taliban.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is gravely concerned about the well-being of students, scholars, and human rights activists. While we call for the Taliban to restrain from violence and repression, we believe that the international community must prioritize helping the people of Afghanistan under the Taliban’s reign. During the regime’s brutal previous rule, schools were closed, girls were forbidden from classrooms and could only leave their homes with a male patron—girls as young as nine were forced into marriages.
Afghan students and scholars, who have already lived their entire lives through conflict and war, have a right to live free from violence, where they can go to school and engage in scholarly work safe from harm.