Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, 2021. After a chaotic evacuation of US forces and its allies, the Taliban consolidated its control through draconian administration.
Taliban rule in the 1990s was defined by human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, affecting civil society and women. Though today’s Taliban sounds more conciliatory, the Program on Peacebuilding and Human Rights (PBHR) at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) remains vigilant, monitoring conditions and chronicling abuses.
The Taliban Atrocities Project provides information on abuses against former members of the Afghan Armed Forces and security services. It is also a compilation of information on crimes against Afghan civil society, such as artists, journalists, minorities, and especially women. Sources include primary reference materials collected in English, as well as Pashtun, Dari and Farsi, as well reports and media coverage.
Many Afghans feel abandoned by the US and coalition countries. The Taliban Atrocities Project signals they are not alone; the world remains concerned and bears witness. Information posted on the ISHR web site is available to US and foreign officials, as well as international NGOs and academics.
Journalists appear to have been the first victims of the Taliban's crimes since the evacuation of US and coalition forces. Many Afghans are deleting their social media accounts in an effort to erase their digital footprint. Additionally, the Taliban is going house-to-house searching for members of the former Afghan government. Numerous reports describe the beating of Afghans for wearing western attire, commemorating Afghan Independence Day on August 19, and waving the Afghan national flag.
Abuses are occurring across the country from Herat in the west, to Mazar e-Sharif in the north, to Jalalabd and Kandahar in the south, as well as Kabul. In Bamiyan province, Taliban have targeted Hazara tribesmen, desecrating Shiite religious and cultural symbols. On August 17, an Afghan Twitter account noted: "Many videos circulating on social media show that, contrary to their claims, the Taliban [are] searching houses, arresting people, and are largely involved in extra-judicial investigations, harassment, and assaults."
The Taliban Atrocities Project is not intended to be comprehensive. Launched on September 6, 2021, the documentation project provides a snapshot of abuses during the first weeks of Taliban rule. In some cases, the identities of victims are obscured to protect them from recrimination.
The Project is participatory and relies on partnerships. Research, documentation, and dissemination is ongoing. Please share information with Project Director David L. Phillips (firstname.lastname@example.org) or with Charlie Randall (email@example.com).