ICC Calls on the Government of Tajikistan to Open its Borders to Afghan Refugees
10/04/2021 Tajikistan (International Christian Concern) – ICC sources on the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan are attempting to help Afghan refugees escape the Taliban without success. They recently told ICC that a group of between five hundred and a thousand Hazaris fled Kabul during the August 2021 Taliban takeover. According to Minority Rights Group International, the Hazaris were, a few centuries ago, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan at comprised about 67% of the population. It is believed that they now make up around 9%. The Hazaris speak the Farsi dialect of Dari and are majority Shi’a Muslims.
Afghan Christians continue to fear for their lives. Many are in hiding as Taliban members have tried to weed them out by going house to house searching for believers. Many Christian leaders have lost touch with members of their underground congregations and fear they are martyred.
According to the U.S. State Department’s 2020 International Religious Freedom Report, Tajikistan is a secular state. “According to the constitution, everyone has the right individually or jointly with others to profess any religion or no religion and to take part in religious customs and ceremonies,” the State Department report says. Earlier this year, the State Department designated Tajikistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for engaging in violations of religious freedom. The CPC designation is the State Department’s most serious religious freedom designation. However, sources on the ground feel Tajikistan offers hope to those fleeing the Taliban.
The situation in Afghanistan is already dire, as nearly half the country faces starvation, and the Taliban has announced it will return to brutal forms of punishment and execution. While neighboring countries continue to be hesitant to receive Afghan refugees, reports of beatings, rapes, kidnapping, and persecution persist.
As the U.S. continues granting Priority 2 status to contractors and Afghan nationals that assisted in U.S. efforts over the last two decades, religious minorities are left to flee the border illegally. As an immediate action, ICC calls on the government of Tajikistan to accept Afghan refugees according to its constitutional mandate of religious freedom.
For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].