A Joint Op-Ed By
Mr. David Metcalfe, Ambassador of Canada
Mr. Geoff Tooth, Ambassador of Australia
Canada and Australia join others in the international community in condemning the escalation of violence across Afghanistan.
We deplore the suffering and deaths of innocent civilians.
We condemn the deliberate and callous targeting of advocates for peace, and of the security forces trying to protect the population.
We are deeply concerned that unacceptable levels of Taliban violence against Afghan forces threaten the long-delayed hopes of the Afghan people for peace.
The recent attacks on religious leaders, healthcare workers, human rights advocates and judicial figures are abhorrent. Those who carried out these crimes clearly intended to stop free debate. But the calls by civil society for an end to violence, and a bright and inclusive future for Afghanistan, cannot be silenced. We are confident Afghans will not be deterred from raising their voices to help achieve their common goal of an Afghanistan at peace, and in which the people’s wellbeing and diverse contributions are valued. We urge the full investigation of these crimes so those responsible can be brought to justice.
We continue to support inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led negotiations as the only effective pathway to peace. It is disheartening that the restraint being shown by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces is not mirrored by the Taliban. This is not the behaviour expected of those who claim to represent the very same people who are the victims of their violence.
Together, we call on all parties to the conflict to immediately comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2532. Now is the time for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which will allow the access so greatly needed to vulnerable Afghan communities battling the heavy impact of the COVID-19 crisis. An immediate reduction in violence and humanitarian ceasefire will also build confidence and enable progress to be achieved in the intra-Afghan negotiations.
The Taliban should demonstrate to fellow Afghans and the rest of the world its intent to undertake good faith negotiations for a peaceful future for Afghanistan. We encourage all parties to create the right conditions for the intra-Afghan talks by making clear their commitment to peace.
They must end this senseless violence now.