Washington, United States: Two top human rights organizations called Friday for President Joe Biden to extend the August 31 deadline for US troops to leave Kabul in order to help evacuate Afghans fearing Taliban reprisals.
Sarah Holewinski, head of the Washington bureau at Human Rights Watch, told a news conference the most at-risk Afghans would not be able to get out before the deadline unless flights out of Kabul are ramped up.
“We hope President Biden will announce a delayed departure for US forces so that more at-risk Afghans (can) be evacuated,” Holewinski said.
Speaking from an undisclosed location, Shaharzad Akbar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said Afghans feared being abandoned by Washington.
“The fear is that as soon as the foreign, the Western citizens are evacuated… the airport airfield will be left to the Taliban and people will be left at the mercy of the Taliban,” Akbar said. “And there will be a massacre.”
Akbar added that of the 30 members of her organization who are trying to get out of Kabul and who possess all the necessary documents, so far none has been able to enter the airport.
In an interview with ABC News broadcast Wednesday, Biden did not rule out keeping US troops in Kabul beyond August 31 if there were still Americans on the ground.
Thousands of Afghans have flocked to Kabul airport since the capital was overrun by the Taliban on Sunday.
They are fearful of a return of the militant group’s brutal rule of the 1990s.
The last time they were in power, the Taliban imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law, preventing women from working and handing out extreme punishments such as chopping off the hands of suspected thieves.