An openly gay medical student in Afghanistan was abducted, tortured, and killed by the Taliban after being stopped at a traffic checkpoint, becoming the latest victim of violence directed against LGBTQ people under the Islamist regime.
The family of the now-deceased Hamed Sabouri say the 22-year-old was detained at a traffic checkpoint by Taliban gunmen and tortured for three days before being shot to death.
It remains unclear what triggered Sabouri’s detention, although previous reports from human rights groups have noted that the Taliban often seize passerby’s phones and check them for any pictures, videos, or social media posts that may provide evidence of being gay or that are critical of Taliban rule.
Still other LGBTQ Afghans, primarily gay men, have reported being physically assaulted, threatened, blackmailed, or even raped by Taliban fighters — some of whom are secretly gay themselves — or fellow Afghans sympathetic to the Taliban.
According to The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, Sabouri’s torturers took video of his torture and execution and sent it to his family.
“The Taliban murdered Hamed and sent the video to his family and me,” Bahar, Sabouri’s partner, told the newspaper. “Hamed’s family have fled and I have been in hiding. We were like any other couple around the world in love but the Taliban treat us like criminals. They’ve killed the love of my life and I don’t know how I’ll live without him.”
Bahar said he’s been receiving threats from the Taliban, and fears falling victim to Taliban soldiers, who have previously detained and tortured him three separate times.
“I have many friends from the LGBTQ+ community here in Afghanistan who have also keen kidnapped and tortured,” Bahar noted. “I was arrested by the Taliban in August 2021 and again in May and June this year and was raped, beaten and tortured with electric shocks.”
Haseeb Sabouri, Hamed’s brother, told The Guardian that Hamed’s family has sold their homes in Afghanistan and fled to Turkey over concerns for their own safety.
“We fled from Afghanistan due to threats and murder of Hamed,” he said. “We fled because the Taliban came to our home every day to harass and threaten us.”
Human rights advocates in the country say that, since the Taliban seizing control of the country last year, LGBTQ people have either attempted to leave Afghanistan or have gone into hiding out of fear of the punishments the Taliban will exact upon them and their families.
A joint report from Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International released in February details how LGBTQ people in Afghanistan have reported being attacked, sexually assaulted, and blackmailed by members of the Taliban due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Even prior to the Islamist group officially taking control of the country last August, a Taliban judge promised to enforce Sharia law, including the death penalty, for individuals convicted of homosexuality.
“The biggest fear that every LGBTQ+ person in Afghanistan has right now is that they will become the next Hamed Sabouri,” Nemat Sadat, the founder of LGBTQ rights group Roshaniya, told The Guardian.
Sadat has been critical of Western governments for failing to take in Afghan refugees seeking asylum, and for failing to condemn the human rights abuses committed by the Taliban.
“The death of Hamed Sabouri is further proof that the Taliban will not stop until they eradicate all gay people from Afghanistan,” Sadat told PinkNews. “His execution was deliberate and outside of any legal framework. I don’t understand how people in good conscience around the world sit idle while the Taliban continue to rule with a total disregard for human life.”
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