Korea must do its share
Heart-wrenching stories continue to pour out of Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control. Scenes of young Afghan women tossing their babies across a high wall topped with barbed wires to U.S. soldiers on the other side — begging for the kids to be taken away even if their parents were denied passage — were caught on cameras. Armed Taliban forces are allegedly committing merciless revenge and human rights violations in the country, including on women who do not wear the burka. However, no one knows when or how all the confusion and chaos will come to an end.
South Korea cannot sit on its hands in the face of such horrendous tragedies playing out daily. The international community must find effective ways to address the gruesome situation and possibly prevent a bigger crisis later on. It remains to be seen if or what kind of effective measures the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland might present Tuesday to help the distressed Afghan people.
A glimmer of hope is that the Taliban leadership seems to be conscious of the world’s attention and keen revulsion to atrocities. A spokesperson for the Taliban promised to ban retaliation against its opponents, ensure women’s rights, and maintain peaceful relationships with foreign countries. Those surprising promises reflect the Taliban’s recognition of international criticism of their barbaric rule of the country for five years after they took power in 1995.
Although it is obviously too late for anyone to stop the Taliban from taking control of Afghanistan again, the world has a responsibility to try to deter them from taking extreme actions against their own people. Furthermore, the world must mobilize all available resources to pressure the Taliban to keep their pledge to establish an open and inclusive Islamic government. The most urgent thing of all is protection of would-be refugees. Though the campaign is led by the United States for the moment, other countries must do their share to help protect the refugees.
Korea must do its share too. International human rights advocacy groups say that the safety of Afghan people — and their relatives — who have worked with reconstruction teams dispatched from Korea are being threatened by the Taliban. If that’s true, the government must help them, including issuing visas to them if they want to come to Korea.
The United States reportedly is considering the idea of accommodating Afghan refugees on its military bases overseas if their numbers keep skyrocketing. Some of our politicians are urging the government to accept them as political refugees. The time has come for Korea to play a role befitting its international stature. If it can meet such expectations from the international community, Korea will be acknowledged as an advanced country.