The Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad, Kimahli Powell, has revealed that the Taliban has a kill list circulating Afghanistan, naming members of the oppressed LGBTQ+ community.
“This is a really scary time to be in Afghanistan,” he said in a phone interview with France 24, months after the Taliban took power at the end of August this year.
Afghanistan has always been a country where LGBTQ+ people have faced discrimination, even under a Western-backed government during which time non-heterosexual relations were punishable by up to two years in prison.
But now, under a strict interpretation of Sharia law, persecution has fatal consequences.
That’s where Rainbow Railroad comes in. This NGO seeks to provide safety and refuge to at-risk LGBTQ+ people who cannot safely stay in their home country, and from Afghanistan alone, the organisation has already received 700 requests this year.
If you're an #LGBTQI person facing state-sanctioned violence and persecution, contact us at this web link: https://t.co/fGkk2OvVwu
— Rainbow Railroad (@RainbowRailroad) August 19, 2020
“I can guarantee you already right now, that the number of requests we will receive this year will spike,” said Powell.
Since taking power, the Taliban have not formally declared how they intend to deal with LGBTQ+ relations, but Powell tells France 24 that a kill list has been drawn up and is in circulation in the Muslim-majority country.
This list, Powel suggests, may have been formed by identifying the people that foreign rights groups were trying to evacuate in the weeks leading up to the militant group’s takeover.
“After the fall of Kabul, there was a lot of information sharing,” he says, noting that active persecution, entrapment and data leaks may also have contributed to the formation of the kill list.
1/ An update on Rainbow Railroad’s work in Afghanistan:
Earlier today, 29 #LGBTQI+ Afghans arrived in the U.K. as part of a special operation coordinated by the U.K. Gov., @RainbowRailroad and @stonewalluk. This photo shows them embarking from an undisclosed location. pic.twitter.com/Nm6SdA90Yb
— Rainbow Railroad (@RainbowRailroad) October 29, 2021
“[Some] individuals who have reached out to us have told us about how they’ve received a mystery email from someone claiming to be connected with Rainbow Railroad asking for their information and passport. That’s how we know the information has been leaked.”
Founded in 2006, Rainbow Railroad helps under-threat LGBTQ+ individuals all over the world, receiving around 4,000 requests annually, but their services have been primarily required in Afghanistan as a high-risk country for the community.
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