All about this: Since coming to power in August, Taliban Islamist fighters in Afghanistan have either disappeared or executed more than 100 former soldiers, police officers and intelligence agents – although the Taliban leadership has promised amnesty for all. This was stated in a report by Human Rights Watch. It documents cases from the states of Ghasni, Helmand, Kandahar and Kunduz. Victims of the former government forces who surrendered to the Taliban. The report is based on testimonials and interviews conducted on site.
This is behind it: “Only those four provinces that were the most competitive and in which the greatest animosity remains between the Taliban and former government forces are examined,” says Thomas Guterson, the SRF’s South Asia correspondent. It remains unclear whether the attacks were personal reprisals by the local Taliban or whether the approach followed the strategy of the Taliban leadership.
This is how the Taliban leaders reacted: The Taliban in Kabul denied Human Rights Watch’s allegations. “This is the common reaction when they’re under attack,” Guterson says. The Taliban actually have an investigative tool to investigate the allegations: In September, they formed a so-called Human Rights Commission to investigate crimes of all kinds. “This should be active now,” the reporter said. But so far, the commission has dealt mainly with corruption and theft.
Taliban publishes decree on women’s rights
In a decree issued on Friday, the Taliban ordered organizations, religious scholars and elders to take action to enforce women’s rights. It literally means: “A woman is not a property, but a noble and free person.” Among the rights is a stipulation that no one may force an unmarried or widowed woman to marry. And no one should make women available in exchange for peace. Widows will also have the right to inheritance and a wedding gift if they remarry.
The decree also called on the two ministries and the courts to ensure that these rights are announced and implemented. In general, the positions in the decree are not new and correspond to the provisions of Islam. Previous Afghan laws also guaranteed these rights. However, it was not often granted even before the Taliban came to power.
The new decree does not provide any information on women’s rights to education or work. Islamists have significantly curtailed women’s rights since their return to power. In many cases they cannot return to their jobs. Most girls’ secondary schools are closed.
These are the findings of the Human Rights Watch report: Guterson says the Taliban are now under pressure to investigate well-documented killings. However, human rights abuses are nothing new in Afghanistan. There are also serious allegations of torture and kidnappings against the former intelligence service of the previous government, which were never disclosed. “Afghanistan has a long history of human rights abuses that has not been dealt with before.” It would be new if the Taliban of all people started doing this now.
The Taliban has no interest in solving human rights violations alone.
What can the West do? Countries such as China or Russia maintain certain relations with Afghanistan – but human rights are not high on the agenda for either country. On the other hand, the West is trying to isolate Afghanistan. For example, the United States is blocking several billions of Afghan state assets that the Taliban want access to. But the West’s options for pressure are limited. “I don’t think impeachment can be effective,” says reporter Guterson. A rethink is needed. “Because the Taliban will have no interest in solving these issues of human rights violations by themselves.”
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