Amid "escalating violence" in Afghanistan, its human rights community is under "intensifying attacks" from both the authorities and armed groups, according to Amnesty International.
Human rights defenders and activists in Afghanistan have been largely ignored by the Afghan government and the international community as they face "intimidation, harassment, threats, and violence," the London-based human rights watchdog said in a briefing released on August 28.
It said the Western-backed government in Kabul "has repeatedly failed to investigate attacks on human rights activists, sometimes accused them of 'fabricating' their claims, and even told them to take up arms to defend themselves.”
The government has "a duty to respect, protect and support activists, to investigate threats and attacks against them, and to hold suspected perpetrators accountable," said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.
Meanwhile, he said, the international community "must step forward and provide Afghanistan's human rights community with the support they urgently need.”
The international community "has long paid tribute to the bravery of Afghanistan's human rights activists, but they have failed to recognize their achievements and effectively support them at this increasingly difficult time," according to Waraich.
There has been no let-up in violence in the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan, even though U.S. and Taliban negotiators appeared to be closing in on an accord to end the fighting.
More than 3,800 civilians were killed or injured during the first six months of this year alone, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).