Christians stranded in Afghanistan have been turning off their phones and fleeing to local hill country to avoid being tracked and hunted down by the Taliban, a human rights group reported this week.
Kelsey Zorzi, president of the U.N.’s NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, reported Tuesday that Afghan Christians in hiding have already received threatening letters or phone calls saying, “We know where you are and what you are doing.”
As a result, “Christians are turning off their phones to avoid surveillance and have started moving to undisclosed locations,” Zorzi, who is also director of advocacy for global religious freedom for ADF International, wrote.
As Breitbart News reported, the Barnabas Fund, which monitors Christian persecution, also warned this week that Christians remaining in Afghanistan face “great danger” following the Taliban takeover.
Afghan Christians, almost all of whom are converts from Islam or the children of converts, “are very likely to be killed” if caught by the Taliban, which adheres to a strict application of Islamic (sharia) law, Barnabas declared.
In Tuesday’s essay, Ms. Zorzi noted that Afghan Christians, estimated to number between 10,000 and 12,000, are aware that the Taliban is seeking them.
“The memories of public executions, floggings and amputations of Christians and other religious minorities under the Taliban’s previous rule remain vivid,” she observed.
In recent years, “dozens of Afghan Christians decided to include their religious affiliation on their national identity cards so that future generations wouldn’t have to hide their faith,” Zorzi added, which will only aggravate the already vulnerable situation of those who managed to make this change.
Fred Davie of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) stated this week that Christians and other Afghan religious minorities already face “severe risks,” which will “only heighten after the end of the US evacuation.”
The Taliban reportedly has compiled a “hit list of known Christians they are targeting to pursue and kill,” and many are fleeing to the mountains looking for asylum.
Since the Taliban is working to track down the known Christians on its list, Zorzi wrote, “some local church leaders are counseling their communities to stay inside their homes, even though they know the best and perhaps only long-term hope is to somehow flee the country.”
Some reports say, “The Taliban is already conducting targeted killings of Christians and other minorities found using public transportation, as well as executing anyone found with Bible software installed on their cell phones,” Zorzi added.
Last January, the 2021 World Watch List compiled by Open Doors designated Afghanistan the second most dangerous nation in the world for Christians to live, but with the Taliban takeover, the situation has gotten significantly worse.
The United Nations documented 8,820 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2020, including 3,035 deaths, and some of the most brutal attacks targeted religious minorities. The U.N. reported the Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of the civilian casualties.