New York, NY, November 29, 2021… Members of ADL’s (the Anti-Defamation League’s) Task Force on Middle East Minorities issued a letter today calling on United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to broaden the criteria for Priority-2 refugee admissions status to include Afghan nationals from ethnic and religious minority groups that have a well-founded fear of persecution under Taliban rule.
Vulnerable ethnic and religious groups are now in much greater peril since the Afghan government was violently overthrown by the Taliban, which had already been designated by the State Department as an Entity of Particular Concern for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. Shiite Hazaras, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, Uyghurs, and Hindus are among those groups that are particularly at risk of persecution in Afghanistan under a Taliban government.
In their letter, members of ADL’s Task Force wrote that “It is unreasonable, impractical, and, in fact, unsafe to ask each member of such minority groups to individually prove their personal reasons for seeking asylum when it is manifestly clear that mere membership in their religious or ethnic group is an obvious basis for a well-founded fear of systematic and life-threatening persecution in their home country.”
Co-Chair of ADL’s Task Force and Steering Committee Member for the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief Farahnaz Ispahani said, “As every day brings news of attacks, often fatal, on communities of faith, we urge you to make the asylum process swift and safe and the transition for Afghan members of under-threat communities of faith an urgent issue.”
ADL’s Task Force on Middle East Minorities Member and Executive Director of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees Shadi Martini added: “I am a Syrian who faced hurdles settling in the U.S. and have painfully watched other Syrians in their endless wait, so desperate for resettlement in the U.S. I view the immediate assistance of Afghan minorities with not just empathy but with a strong sense of urgency, knowing that their fear of the future can all too quickly turn to personal tragedy. Our duty is to help the Afghan minorities now, without further deliberation or any more red tape. Lives hang in the balance, as they do on a daily basis in Syria.”
The letter also encourages the U.S. to set up necessary processing centers for applications of this sort in neighboring countries, so those individuals who are relatively fortunate enough to reach those sites are then able to directly apply.