Human Rights First Calls For Full Evacuation of All Afghan Allies, Green Card Holders, & Americans Before the US Ends Mission
The President’s arbitrary timetable harms allies, veterans, and human rights
WASHINGTON -- In response to President Biden’s announcement today that the United States will withdraw from Afghanistan by its August 31 deadline, ceasing the evacuation of our allies and other at-risk Afghans, Human Rights First calls on the administration to commit to continuing the effort until all Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S., Afghan allies of the U.S., and at-risk members of civil society are evacuated to safety.
“With tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan waiting to get on planes, this is no time for arbitrary deadlines,” said Michael Breen, CEO and President of Human Rights First and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. “The U.S. military has long committed to leaving no one behind. Now is the time to put that commitment to the test and bring to safety those who aided in the war effort, worked to build a civil society, and defended human rights in Afghanistan. We cannot abandon our Afghan allies. For many of them, it will be a death sentence.”
Human Rights First calls on the administration to ignore its self-imposed deadline and refuse to allow the terms of U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to be dictated by the Taliban. It must keep the evacuation operation active for as long as possible to evacuate as many people as possible. The U.S. military must keep the airport open and ensure Americans and Afghans safe passage into the airport and onto flights out of Afghanistan.
“The Biden administration must not allow the Taliban to dictate to us the terms of our withdrawal, it should do everything that is necessary to save the lives of American citizens and to those whom we promised our protection,” said Chris Purdy, project manager for Veterans for American Ideals. “We made a commitment over twenty years ago to both our Afghan allies and the American veterans who served there. The Biden administration must honor it.”
Beyond applicants for SIV and P-2 visas, the evacuation must include all Afghans put in danger by the country’s takeover by the Taliban.
“The U.S. evacuation operations in Afghanistan must not end until refugees, including human rights defenders, minority religious and ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ people, women, and members of other groups whose human rights are threatened by the Taliban are evacuated to safety,” said Jennifer Quigley, senior director of government affairs at Human Rights First. “While this effort should have begun long ago, now it should be ramping up, not shutting down.”
The way the U.S. ends the war in Afghanistan will also have a lasting impact on the Americans who served there.
“I served in the Afghan war and want to see the U.S. leave with honor,” continued Breen. “Many of us made personal promises to our Afghan allies that are now being broken. By meeting our commitments, the administration can save from moral harm two generations of American veterans who believed that our efforts had purpose and that the U.S. would back up our words. We are pleading with the administration to honor our service and sacrifices by protecting our allies and others who are at grave risk of danger as the U.S. leaves Afghanistan.”