Taliban take-over of Afghanistan

August 17th, 2021

To download this statement in PDF format, please click here.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community, deplores the forcible take-over of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

“We join with our friends in the Afghan community in Australia in expressing profound concern about the future safety and welfare of members of their families and friends from whom they are already receiving reports of Taliban atrocities, including executions, mass rapes and forced marriages of young women and girls,” said ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim.

“The return of Afghanistan to the barbarism of Taliban rule which benighted the country in the 1990s is especially ominous for Afghanis who have worked with Australian and other western governments and organisations as translators, security and support staff, NGO workers and journalists. Members of religious minorities are also at grave risk, including the many Shia members of the Hazara community.”

“We urge the Australian government to give priority to the evacuation of all people whose lives are at grave risk, including all of these groups and others who are likely targets of the Taliban.”

Noting that many people are now at risk from hunger and lack of shelter due to their forced displacement, Wertheim said that the ECAJ is also calling for Australian aid to the region to be extended to support programs to assist people who have been displaced across borders and, wherever possible, to support organisations still offering assistance within Afghanistan.

The ECAJ also called for Afghans who are already living in Australia on a temporary basis to be allowed to stay if they wish to do so. “None of them should be forced to return to Afghanistan against their will or face the constant fear of forced return,” Wertheim said.

“The calamity that has befallen the Afghan nation will not be confined to the borders of Afghanistan. Violent Islamist extremists the world over, including those who have now been released from prison in Afghanistan, will exult in the Taliban victory, be fortified in their sense of certainty in the ultimate victory of their evil cause and will find renewed motivation to commit acts of murder and mayhem. A world that is grappling to cope with a pandemic now faces another deadly source of instability.”

Peter Wertheim | Co-CEO
ph: 02 8353 8505 | m: 0408 160 904 | fax 02 9361 588
e: pwertheim@ecaj.org.au