Human rights groups have accused the Taliban of “gradually dismantling” human rights in Afghanistan since their rise to power in the country last month.
In a briefing released Tuesday, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) accused the Taliban of a number of human rights violations, including restrictions on press freedom, restrictions on women and the targeted assassination of civilians and former government officials.
At a press conference just two days after the group came to power, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s deputy minister of information and culture, made several references to a “general amnesty” that would be applied in all the countries.
But the rights groups’ 29-page report said the Taliban simply “tried to present itself as a reformed group that recognizes a semblance of women’s rights and free speech,” but such statements ” are only a cover for a regression to their previous plan. of repression â.
Journalists, activists and women agreed with rights organizations, telling Al Jazeera that the Taliban had not honored their public statements.
When the Taliban took power last month, Mariam Ebram led a women’s group in the western town of Herat in a protest near the governor’s compound.
The 24-year-old said she and other women hoped the Taliban would take their protests seriously. But she says the group’s actions over the following weeks robbed her and other women of those hopes.
“At first we thought we could convince them to change, but all they’ve done since then is muzzle everyone,” Ebram told Al Jazeera.
A week after the protest in Herat, the Taliban announced that all protests, including slogans, chants and signs used, would require the approval of the Justice Ministry.
The decree came from the group’s acting interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is one of several Taliban officials whose name appears on international terrorist lists.
He also heads the Haqqani Network, known as the most brutal and violent group associated with the Taliban, and has been accused of organizing some of the worst attacks in the country.
âSirajuddin is someone known for his brutality,â Ebram said. “Now, even if we see something, we dare not record it on our phones or report it.”
Ebram said she had her own phone stolen when she wanted to document the Taliban beating a man on the streets of Herat.
“No rights for women”
The rights groups report added that “the messages about women’s rights that have been communicated by the Taliban since they took power have been vague and inconsistent and have left women in Afghanistan terrified.”
Nargis Sadiqi, a journalist who had worked for the government and participated in protests against the Taliban, said that since the group came to power, women’s rights have been “trampled” in Afghanistan.
âWomen’s rights no longer exist,â Sadiqi said.
Sadiqi, who has worked in Kabul and Herat, said the first blow came in August when senior Taliban official Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai told the BBC’s Pashto service that “there would be no maybe no “room for women in a future government led by the Taliban.”
When the Taliban announced their government earlier this month, Stanikzai’s statement was confirmed by the all-male, all-Taliban cabinet.
This cabinet announcement also saw the elimination of a minister of women’s affairs and the reestablishment of the ministry of preaching and guidance and the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice.
Sadiqi said that when the Taliban came to the TV station where she works, she was forced into hiding.
âI have to leave my camera behind and run into a closet,â she said.
Although many women have managed to return to work since the Taliban took power, several women who spoke to Al Jazeera in the past five weeks said they were told not to go to work or that they were too afraid of possible abuse or intimidation by the Taliban to return to their workplace.
The report cites two cases of female bank workers in Herat and Kandahar who were escorted home and told that their male relatives would take their place.
“It is not yet clear if these were isolated incidents or if they were part of a larger scheme” of trying to prevent women from working as the group did in the 1990s , added the briefing.
Mujahid, the Taliban minister, told Afghan newspaper TOLOnews on Monday that concerns about the human rights situation in the country would be resolved if the international community recognized the Taliban government.
âAs long as we don’t get recognized and they come up with criticism, we think it’s a one-sided approach. It would be good if they treated us responsibly and recognized our current government as a responsible administration. Then they can share their concerns legally with us and we will address their concerns, âMujahid said.
Sadiqi and Ebram said they had both been threatened by the Taliban and their families told them to remain silent on social media and refrain from criticizing the group.
An activist from southern Kandahar province said she no longer felt comfortable speaking to the media due to threats she received from the Taliban after sharing the story of abuse against her family.
“Until a time when I feel safe, I cannot tell my story publicly,” the activist, who wished to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera.
The briefing points out that the past month has seen cases of abuse and intimidation across the country.
As the Independence Day celebrations on August 19 approached, at least three protesters were gunned down by the Taliban in Jalalabad when they replaced the group’s flag with the Afghan national flag.
In the capital Kabul, local journalists have been beaten, tortured and detained by the Taliban for covering the economy and the protests.
For nearly a month, residents of Panjshir have been deprived of reliable phone and internet services after the Taliban cut off mobile phone services in the province, which is home to the latest organized resistance against the Taliban regime.
“Given the prevailing climate of fear, the lack of mobile connectivity in many areas and the Internet shutdowns imposed by the Taliban, these findings probably represent only a glimpse of what is happening on the ground,” he said. said Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s deputy director for South Asia.