Since the withdrawal of the U.S led forces from Afghanistan was announced in April of this year, the Taliban made rapid gains across Afghanistan. On Sunday, 15th of August 2021, the Taliban fighters entered Kabul, creating chaos and panic, and prompting desperate Afghans to leave.
The Taliban has a long record of deliberately targeting and killing civilians they deem as enemies. Afghans now urgently need evacuation and international protection as many of them can become target of the Taliban fighters due to their past work or status. Civilians who worked to promote democracy, human rights, academics, education, writers, and people working for the Afghan government or foreign countries are feared to be at particular risk.
NATO countries, including the Czech Republic, are now facing the question of how they should help Afghans who worked with coalition forces. Dozens of Afghans, mainly interpreters who helped the Czech Army during its mission, need urgent help and support.
On Wednesday, an online petition called “Zachraňte tlumočníky” (Save the interpreters) was launched, which was signed by public figures, veterans, and NGOs, including the Czech Helsinki Committee (CHC). The petition warns that several Afghans who worked with the Czech Army are already calling for help, fearing retaliation on themselves and their families.
The Czech government has already approved a plan to evacuate Afghan staffers at the Czech Embassy in Kabul. The Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek today during press conference announced that altogether 147 persons were evacuated from Afghanistan and the mission was fulfilled.
CHC welcomes these measures and calls on the government to make sure all interpreters and Afghan collaborators of the Czech Army are evacuated. We also urge the government to ensure there are all the necessary means to support and integrate Afghans into Czech society. Furthermore, the Czech government should immediately suspend all deportations and forced returns to Afghanistan.
More information is available at:
Lucie Rybová, director of the Czech Helsinki Committee