Taliban Have Turn Afghanistan into a Living Hell
By: Fahim Amin
Over the past eighteen months, the Taliban have been known to arrest, torture, and humiliate former soldiers, rebellious women and girls, and analysts. This has been followed by a new wave of arrests in the past month, with more than fifty citizens, including politicians, university professors, analysts, women and girls, former soldiers, and civilians, being arrested and tortured. This has caused Amnesty International to express their concerns, stating that the Taliban have initiated a “new phase” of human rights violations and harassment. This is in addition to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) announcing an increase in the arrests of civil activists and journalists by the Taliban.
Over the past eighteen months, the Taliban have implemented a policy of repression. Women have been excluded from all aspects of society, journalists and the media have been subject to self-censorship and intimidation, and those who have spoken out against the regime have been arrested, tortured, and humiliated. Furthermore, the Taliban have sought to eliminate and deny ethnic, linguistic, and gender pluralism and diversity. Recently, they have intensified their campaign of arrests and torture of civilians, intensifying the fear of human rights organizations and citizens alike.
Human Rights Organizations’ Reaction
Amnesty International reported on Monday, February 20, that the Taliban have initiated a new round of human rights violations, which includes the illegal arrest and harassment of civilians, as well as the severe torture of those arrested. This demonstrates another wave of arbitrary arrests by the Taliban.
On Sunday, February 12th, the Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) had previously stated that the Taliban had increased the arbitrary arrest of civil activists and journalists. This institution published a newsletter stating that “Afghans have the right to express their views without fear of harassment.”
Naim Nazari, the head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, has stated that the Taliban’s existence is linked to the extensive violation of human and international humanitarian law. He further elaborated to Hasht-e-Subh that, despite the Taliban’s initial announcement of a general amnesty and assurance of no arrests or retaliatory approaches, arbitrary and illegal arrests have continued and have become increasingly frequent.
Nazari further states that those who have been arrested and subjected to torture are not only protesters, but also those who have opposed the personal desires of the members of this group. Zakaria, Narges Sadat, Mossa Hosiani, Ismail Rahmani, Meshaal, and Elaha Delawarzai are some of the individuals who are still incarcerated as a result of this group.
Nazarie states that the Taliban have committed a high level of human rights and humanitarian rights violations. Former soldiers, civil activists, protesting women, media activists, university professors, employees of the previous government’s legal and judicial institutions, and even ordinary people have been victimized by the Taliban regime. Rather than preventing the crimes and violations of their members, the Taliban officials have ordered civilians not to broadcast and publish the photos and films of this group on social platforms. He emphasizes that the records made available to human rights institutions and the media regarding human rights violations and arrests are indicative of the magnitude of the disaster in Afghanistan.
Detention of Former Soldiers
Since the beginning of their rule, the Taliban have arrested, tortured, and killed former security forces. According to a joint investigation conducted by the New York Times and Hasht-e-Subh, approximately 500 former security forces were killed, arrested, or disappeared in the first six months of the Taliban government. Subsequent reports of such killings and arrests have caused alarm among human rights organizations.
Recently, the Taliban arrested Zakaria, a former soldier from the Darah district of Panjshir province, from his home and transferred him to an undisclosed location. On Thursday, 27th of December, they also arrested Mohammad Rahim, the primary resident of the Darah district, from Karte Sakhi in Kabul city. Sources have informed Hasht-e-Subh that he was a former national security employee, and there is no news about him. Prior to this, the Taliban arrested Farid Syedkheli, the former commander of the army brigade in Baghlan, and Parviz Syedkheli, the former commander of this brigade’s Kandak, from Kabul city. Sources have told Hasht-e-Subh that the Taliban shot at the car of these two former soldiers and then took them away. According to the received information, Parviz Syedkheli was injured and is currently being treated at the Kabul Emergency Hospital.
Arresting Politicians of the Previous Government
On Saturday evening, 11 February, Ahmad Bashir Azizullah, a member of the provincial council of the former Balkh, was arrested from his house in Mazar-e-Sharif city and transferred to a private place. Reliable sources informed our team that he was a member of the Jamiat-e Islami party close to Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh. However, the Taliban police headquarters in this province has denied his arrest.
On Thursday of last week (February 16), the Taliban arrested Qais Khan Vakili, a former member of the National Council, in Kabul. According to reliable sources reported by Hasht-e-Subh, the Taliban first arrested and tortured one of Mr. Vakili’s bodyguards before taking him away. Vakili is a member of the National Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan, which is led by Mohammad Karim Khalili, the former second vice president of Afghanistan.
Detention of Writers and Professors
This month, the Taliban have increased the number of university professors they have arrested, including Zakaria Usuli, a writer and professor in Kabul. A close relative of Usuli reported that he was seen in the 11th district of Kabul city on January 31 at 8am. His mother has since seen him at the intelligence department, but they have been denied access to him while the investigation is ongoing, as they have been instructed by the General Directorate.
Usuli’s relatives have stated that he is the father of a five-month-old child, and his mother is currently taking care of his family. They have also informed us that Usuli is not associated with any political party or organization. They have referred to Usuli as “illiterate” and have highlighted that he has been fighting for rights and justice for many years. He is not reliant on anyone but his pen, book, and ideas. He has devoted himself to improving the living conditions of the people.
Ismail Masha’al, a professor at a private university, publicly destroyed his academic documents in protest of the Taliban’s prohibition of education for girls. He then constructed a bookcase and displayed his books on the streets of Kabul, but was subsequently arrested by the Taliban. Since then, no information about him has been available
On February 15, the Taliban arrested a satirist, Haji Dedan, also known as Haji Kaka, in Nangarhar province. Sources informed Hasht–e–Subh that Haji Kaka had been writing jokes on social networks. The Taliban subsequently published his confession, in which he admitted to having published content against the Taliban and having had multiple user accounts under female names. He expressed regret for his actions.
Arrest of Women Protestors
Since the Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan, they have been met with opposition from women. Women and girls have demonstrated against the Taliban‘s stoning and misogynistic policies. From the early days of the Taliban‘s rule, they have organized large–scale protests in the streets of Kabul and some provinces in response to the Taliban‘s prohibition of education for girls. The Taliban, however, have responded by arresting, torturing, and forcing these women to confess to a crime.
A relative of Narges Sadat, who was arrested by the Taliban, informed Hasht–e–Subh that Narges was taken from the checkpoint in the Pol-e-Sorkh area eleven days ago. They confiscated her phone, but they were informed of her whereabouts by one of her friends who was with them and called her nine–year–old son. Everyone is feeling anxious and nervous, and her mother is in a particularly bad state due to her worry.
The family of the protesting woman have stated that they were unable to locate the whereabouts of Narges Sadat at any of the Taliban institutions they visited. One of her relatives, who declined to give their name, said, “There is no sign of her. Where is she? They went to the third district area, where she was arrested, and they also went to the head of 90 districts and submitted three petitions to the head of intelligence of the Taliban, but they were told that he was not present.” The relatives have been informed by other Taliban officials in these institutions that the investigation is still ongoing, and they will be notified when it is finished. They expressed their concern for Narges Sadat‘s safety, and noted that her eight–year–old child has become ‘distraught‘ due to the separation and cries constantly, yet has not been able to hear his mother‘s voice for eleven days. These relatives also mentioned that prior to being prohibited from working in domestic and foreign institutions, Nargis was responsible for distributing doctors‘ salaries at the Red Cross.
Homaira Yusuf’s Unclear Situation
Homira Yusuf, a resident of Panjshir province, is an activist for women‘s rights and a protester against Taliban policies towards citizens. Six months ago, she was arrested by Taliban intelligence forces from the 11th district of Kabul. Reports concerning her condition are contradictory; some sources claim that she has left Afghanistan, with her brother‘s support, who is a member of the Taliban, while others state that there is no information about her condition. Previously, it was acknowledged that she was imprisoned in the head of 90 and her phone was with the Taliban. Sources also report that Yusuf founded a school called “Rah Haq“ in Kabul and was teaching there.
Shah Alam‘s daughter, Arefa, is a resident of Abdullah Khel Valley in Darah District, Panjshir Province. Hasht–e–Subh was informed that she was arrested by the Taliban on Tuesday, November 15th, in the Pul Zadari area of Panjshir. Since then, there has been no information about her. This 45–year–old woman has three sons and two daughters, and her husband is from Nejrab District in Kapisa Province.
Elaha Delawarzai, a medical student from Afghanistan, has reported to the media that Saeed Khosti, the former spokesman of the Taliban‘s Ministry of Interior, forced her to marry him. After displaying evidence of physical abuse, she was sent to Pakistan with the assistance of human rights organizations. However, her sisters have informed Hasht–s–Subh that Elaha was abducted by the Haqqani network from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, and taken to Kabul. They have expressed grave concern for their sister‘s wellbeing, sending numerous letters to the United Nations and other human rights organizations in an effort to secure her freedom from the Taliban.
Detention of Local Singers
The Taliban have long been known to insult and curse singing and the art of music. As a result, many singers and composers have been forced to flee Afghanistan, while others have been forced to destroy their musical instruments out of fear of being arrested or killed. Many have sought refuge in Iran and Pakistan. In an interview with Hasht–e–Subh, Abdul Wahab Asim, the brother of Mossa Shahin, a local singer from Panjshir, expressed his concern over the continued Taliban arrests. Asim stated, “At 9:00 a.m., 13 armed Taliban surrounded our house in Khair Khāna. They entered without obtaining permission from the lady of the house, and proceeded to search the house, treating them badly, insulting and humiliating them, dragging Mossa out of the house and beating him in the yard. They then tied his hands and took him away.”
Asim added, stating that they had been unaware of Shahin‘s whereabouts for several days. They contacted his friends but were unable to obtain any information. Later, they were informed that Shahin was with the Taliban‘s intelligence and that his investigation file was not yet complete, and he would be released shortly. Asim went on to explain that he had been told that if a group of respected elderly people spoke to them, Shahin would be freed. However, the Taliban refused to release him, claiming that Shahin was a promoter of corruption and had cooperated with officials of the previous government.
Asim added, “Shahin stayed in Panjshir for a few days before being transferred to the Taliban intelligence in Kabul five days ago. Since then, we have had no news of him and we are all worried. My mother‘s condition is particularly bad due to her diabetes and high blood pressure.”
Additionally, Hasht–e–Subh was informed by another source of the Taliban‘s new wave of arrests of citizens. It was reported that many people are currently in prison, and that on Monday, February 20, the Taliban arrested someone from their home in Khair Khāna. The individual’s family members were heard screaming in protest, but the arrest was still carried out.
Additionally, the Taliban cruelly apprehended and assaulted Islamuddin, a resident of Bazarak in Panjshir, during the evening. He had formerly been a soldier and had just come back from Iran, yet the Taliban attacked his home and took him away despite the cries of his daughters.
On Wednesday, February 31, the Taliban conducted a house–to–house search in the second district of Kabul city, arresting approximately twenty residents of Panjshir. Additionally, five people, including two former soldiers, were arrested from the Karaman area of Darah district (Panjshir) for allegedly possessing weapons. The two individuals, Abdul Latif and Ghazi, were reportedly members of the police forces of the previous government. Furthermore, three days prior, two people from the Darah and Annaba districts of Panjshir province were arrested on charges of collaborating with the National Resistance Front.
The Taliban have been persistently harassing the citizens of Afghanistan, disregarding their human dignity and immunity. Furthermore, they have been conducting door–to–door searches. In an interview with Hasht–e–Subh, a resident of Panjshir stated that the number of detainees is innumerable, citing a few of his relatives and friends. He expressed his distress, saying, “my mind is not at peace right now. Otherwise, I would have sent a long list.” According to several public sources, the current situation has been described as “hell on earth“.