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As Western forces signal exits from Afghanistan, Afghan-Australians are fearing the worst

Afghan-Australians say they fear for loved ones back in their homeland now the United States and Australian forces are set to leave the war-torn country in the next few months.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would follow the US and withdraw its final troops from Afghanistan by September this year.

Members of the Australian Hazara community say their loved ones have been abandoned by the coalition forces that had “committed” to protect minorities in Afghanistan. They fear a resurgent Taliban will step up their attacks against persecuted minority groups such as theirs. “When the Taliban come back to power, there is no doubt that many [minorities] will leave Afghanistan,” Sydney-based Hazara Abdul Alizada told SBS News.

“Many people will be massacred and killed by the Taliban because, unfortunately, the Taliban didn’t change at all.”  Mr. Alizada said his relatives had been holding out hope the troop withdrawals would not occur so soon. “They were concerned about their future in Afghanistan. They will [now] be in danger in Afghanistan. Australia needs to do something for those people who supported them.”

‘The mentality has not changed.’

Abdul Ghafar Stanikzai, a former human rights chief in the Afghan province of Uruzgan who now lives in Adelaide, believes Afghanistan could now revert “back to the 1990s” when a civil war broke out. The Taliban was conducting public executions and floggings.

“There is no guarantee the warlords will not destroy everything again because the mentality of them has not been changed,” Mr. Stanikzai told SBS News. Mr. Stanikzai said he fears his cousin, who works for the government and tries to flee Afghanistan. His remaining family members were forced to escape rural areas due to insecurity, but he said that violence has followed them even in the cities.

International troops are leaving at a time when violence appears to be worsening, he said.

“Every day, assassinations are increasing, target killings and bomb explosions increasing,” Mr. Stanikzai said.

“The worst thing is this irresponsible withdrawal from Afghanistan has given the mentality assumption to the Taliban that they can regain the power.” Mr. Stanikzai said Australia and other coalition partners bear a moral responsibility as a member of the NATO forces to sponsor Afghans who worked with the Australian personnel and those with family in Australia as refugees.  “It’s very, very important in that the moral responsibility of every government, including Australia, we have to do something to protect them … because they have been identified [by the Taliban ] … as working with the Australian troops.”

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