The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has condemned the killing of dozens of schoolgirls in West Kabul, Afghanistan.
A targeted explosive blast outside the Sayed Ul-Shuhada school resulted in 89 civilian deaths and more than 140 wounded in the attacks on 8 May.
IBAHRI has demanded that the Afghan government provide better protection for girls and women.
Co-chair and former justice of the High Court of Australia (1996–2006), Michael Kirby AC CMG commented: “The IBAHRI unequivocally condemns the brutal attack on children leaving school for the day.
“With the majority of the 89 civilians killed or injured being girls or women from the Shia Hazara community, the IBAHRI urges the Afghan government to recognise such attacks as part of a dangerous amalgam of religious extremism coupled with ever-increasing constrictions of the rights of girls and women, and to work to afford better protection for girls and women.
“This intersection of misogyny and religious hatred is an especially lethal combination that must be halted,” he said.
Michael Kirby added: “In addition to the attacks on civilians being morally reprehensible, the intentional targeting of civilians is a grave violation of international humanitarian law for which the perpetrators of these abhorrent and such cowardly acts should be prosecuted to the full extent of local law and in accordance with international law.”
On 8 May 2021, the detonation of a car bomb outside Kabul’s Sayed Ul-Shuhada school, in Dasht-e-Barchi, was followed by explosions from two improvised explosive devices.
More than 80 civilians were killed, largely schoolgirls. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The bombing took place in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, in the western region of the capital, which is home to many members of Afghanistan's Hazara ethnic minority.
A largely Shiite group, they have been the frequent target of Sunni militants, namely Islamic State (IS) loyalists. IS has previously claimed responsibility for similar targeted attacks against Shia Muslims in the region, including the bombing of an education centre in October 2020 that killed more than 30 children and young adults.
'Crime against humanity'
Labelled ‘a crime against humanity’ by the Presidential Palace, the 8 May targeted attacks happened against a backdrop of mounting violence against civilians, especially girls and women.
Between October 2020 and May 2021, there were more than 188 casualties across Afghanistan.
The attacks on the schoolgirls follow the assassination of two female Supreme Court judges in Afghanistan, as well as the shooting of three female media workers in recent months and occurred just days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the massacre of 24 mothers, infants and a midwife in the maternity ward of the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital on 12 May 2020.