Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers circulate ‘kill list’ targeting LGBTQ people
A Taliban fighter blocks a road in Kabul, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. The aid group Rainbow Railroad says Afghanistan's religious rulers are now circulating a 'kill list' targeting LGBTQ people. | Ahmad Halabisaz / AP

The religious fundamentalists of the Taliban who now rule Afghanistan have established a “kill list” targeting the LGBTQ community in Afghanistan, Canadian NGO Rainbow Railroad said Monday, and is ramping up persecution.

“This is a really scary time to be in Afghanistan,” spokesman Kimahli Powell said. “We now know for sure the Taliban has a ‘kill list’ circulating, identifying LBTQI+ persons.”

He said the Islamist group, which regained power in August following the end of the two-decade-long U.S. occupation, had gained the information by paying close attention to the names of people that human rights groups were helping to evacuate.

“After the fall of Kabul, there was a lot of information-sharing,” he said, explaining that those left behind were vulnerable as their identities had been exposed. Personal information has been leaked to the Taliban, while others have been victims of entrapment.

“[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,” Powell said.

The Taliban’s current policy on homosexuality remains unstated, although reports suggest that the group will implement a strict interpretation of sharia law that could mean the death penalty for those who fall foul of it.

Rainbow Railroad, established in 2006, has helped over 1,600 at-risk LGBTQ people flee violence and persecution. The organization gained worldwide attention in 2017 when it facilitated the escape of over 100 people from the anti-gay purge in Chechnya. Currently, it is consumed with pleas for help from Afghanistan.

“I can guarantee you already right now, that the number of requests we will receive this year will spike,” Powell said. He noted that Rainbow Railroad has already received 700 requests from the country and identified at least 200 more people “in need of immediate evacuation.”

This story features content from Morning Star and other sources.