An Afghan Christian warns that the faithful in Afghanistan will never be forgiven by the Taliban, which is why their lives are in danger.
Afghanistan quickly fell into Taliban rule after the U.S. withdrew its forces in August 2021. The hasty evacuation meant that some allies remain left behind in the country that is now being run by a militant group, causing those who worked with the U.S. and Christians to fear for their lives.
"Christians are actually displaced. Many are displaced. I know people who were living in the South, and now they are living in the North," a Christian Afghan named Obed told Voice of the Martyrs Canada.
According to Mission Network News, Afghanistan fell further more into poverty under the Taliban's rule. Up to 30% of the population or about 23 million people require assistance as humanitarian organizations fear that the crisis would kill more people than the 20-year war did.
But despite the hardships, Obed said that Afghan Christians remain hopeful. He said, "They say, Pray for us. These things are normal for Christians. We are facing persecution, but it's okay. Jesus is with us."
"If it's God's will, that we leave Afghanistan, he will prepare a way for us otherwise, we are here," Obed added.
The Taliban are now using the distraction of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to quietly tighten its grip on Afghanistan, Foreign Policy reported this week. According to the report, there has been "growing reports of detentions, rapes, and summary executions of minorities, rights advocates, women, and people associated with the old government or the new resistance."
In the weeks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Taliban established bans on many parts of normal life, including media, entertainment, traditional holidays, and more. Journalists are being detained and beaten as hundreds of media companies have shut down. According to a high-ranking Afghan security source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, China is helping the Taliban build a TV station.
But Afghans and Christians are not the only targets of the Taliban. The militant group has captured Andrew North of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and businessman Peter Juvenal. A source close to the Taliban leaders said that two Americans and eight British nationals are currently being held by the militant group. This includes Juvenal and 59 year old Mark Frerichs, an American engineer and Navy veteran who was detained in January 2020. North was released days after his detention in February.
This week, the Taliban further cemented their commitment to their traditional ways by barring young female children from going to school and getting an education. The sudden decision drew ire from the international community after the Taliban promised to be more progressive in allowing females to study and work.
According to Al Jazeera, the international community continues to refuse to recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan. The United Nations Security Council has also adopted a new resolution that establishes a new one-year mandate for the UN political mission in Afghanistan, arguing that it was "crucial" to peace and in "[responding] to the immediate humanitarian and economic crisis."