The kidnapping, torture and killing of a gay medical student who was stopped at a traffic stop by armed Taliban is the latest victim in a spate of violence against Afghanistan’s LGBTQ+ community, human rights groups have warned.
Hamed Sabouri’s family and partner said he was arrested at a checkpoint in Kabul in August and tortured for three days before being shot dead. Video of his execution was then sent to his family, who have now left Afghanistan for their own safety.
“The Taliban murdered Hamed and sent the video to his family and me,” said Bahar, Sabouri’s partner. “Hamed’s family fled and I went into hiding. We were like any other couple in love in the world, but the Taliban treat us like criminals. You killed the love of my life and I don’t know how to live without him.
“I have received renewed threats from the Taliban and am now on the run. I have many friends from the LGBTQ+ community here in Afghanistan who also enjoyed being kidnapped and tortured. I was arrested and raped, beaten and tortured with electric shocks by the Taliban in August 2021 and again in May and June this year.”
LGBTQ+ rights organizations in Afghanistan say the escalating violence has prompted many in the LGBTQ+ community to attempt to leave the country and has forced thousands of others into hiding.
“The biggest fear every LGBTQ+ person in Afghanistan has right now is that they will become the next Hamed Sabouri,” said Nemat Sadat, founder of the LGBTQ+ rights group Roshaniya.
“This has been their predicament since the Taliban returned to power. The news of Hamed’s brutal death continues to excite our community, but we will not let Hamed’s life go in vain. We will continue to fight for the right of LGBTQ+ Afghans to avoid execution and live long and happy lives in a free country.”
In an email, Haseeb Sabouri, Hamed’s brother, confirmed that the family had sold their two houses in Afghanistan and traveled to Turkey. “We fled Afghanistan because we threatened and killed Hamed,” he said. “We fled because the Taliban came to our home every day to harass and threaten us.”