The United Nations has sounded the alarm over Taliban crackdowns on peaceful protests, many of them by women demanding equal rights, and journalists covering such events.
- Two journalists were beaten with iron rods after covering a women’s rights protest
- The US said it will work with the Taliban, as long as it honours the promises it made to the international community
- Some Afghans are being denied passage to leave as the Taliban demand to see travel documents
“We call on the Taliban to immediately cease the use of force toward, and the arbitrary detention of, those exercising their right to peaceful assembly and the journalists covering the protests,” the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.
It said reports point to an increasing use of force by the Taliban “against those involved in or reporting on the demonstrations”.
It came as the United States delivered a message to the Taliban: If it lives up to all its commitments, brings greater stability to Afghanistan and the region, demonstrates widespread inclusion, and protects the gains of the last 20 years, “we’ll work with it”.
But US deputy ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who delivered the message at a UN Security Council meeting, stressed that “any legitimacy and support will have to be earned”.
He said the standards the international community had set were clear and included facilitating safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan and respecting the country’s obligations under international humanitarian law “including those related to the protection of civilians”.
“We’re watching closely to see that those standards are met,” he said.
The Taliban’s violent crackdown on protests included one case where two Afghan video journalists were beaten with iron rods.
Tagi Daryabi said he and a colleague were covering a protest earlier this week by women demanding their rights from Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.
Taliban fighters stopped the two journalists, bound their hands and dragged them away to a police station in Kabul’s District Three.
At one point, Mr Daryabi said he was beaten non-stop for 10 minutes.
In the chaotic days following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on August 15, thousands of people, including women and young journalists, rushed to the Kabul airport desperate to escape the militants’ rule.
In the weeks since, women have held multiple protests for their rights, almost all of them broken up violently by Taliban fighters.
Two men were killed last week when Taliban opened fire on a women’s rights protest in the western city of Herat.
Journalists have been harassed at the rallies, including another cameramen who was beaten.
Etilaat Roz chief editor Khaadim Karimi, who went to the police station to rescue his reporters, said one Taliban fighter tried to stop the beating of the two journalists by his comrades.
“I saw his humanness. He tried to help,” Mr Karimi said.
But governments around the world remain deeply skeptical, and many Afghans, including hundreds in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, are waiting to leave the country.
But the Taliban have refused to allow some aircraft to depart, saying only Afghans with proper travel documents would be allowed to leave.
The Afghans stranded in Mazar-e-Sharif, many of whom have worked for the US and German military, fear they will be forgotten.