Khaama: Disturbing reports over consecutive years have indicated a rising trend in maternal and infant mortality rates in Afghanistan. According to the latest United Nations report, there are 699 recorded deaths per 100,000 childbirths in Afghanistan. The United Nations Coordination Office (UNOCHA), citing Dr. Sahar, the Head of the United Nations Health Department in Afghanistan, emphasizes that the healthcare system in the country has become almost “paralyzed” following the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Click here to read more (external link).
September 20, 2023
ISLAMABAD — The United Nations said Wednesday that Afghanistan’s Taliban had committed more than 1,600 human rights violations during arrests and detentions of people, including women, and it urged the de facto authorities to cease the abuses.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, has documented the violations in its first report on the treatment of detainees since the Taliban reclaimed power two years ago, saying nearly half of the violations were acts of custodial torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
The report described as “systemic” the use of torture and “ill-treatment” by police and the General Directorate of Intelligence, or GDI, in places of detention and prisons nationwide.
The Taliban renamed the official Afghan spy agency GDI after returning to power in August 2021. UNAMA attributed nearly 60% of the violations to the spy agency.
The reported abuses occurred between January 1, 2022, and July 31, 2023, across 29 of the 34 Afghan provinces. The UNAMA said it had documented the violations through its verifications of over 800 cases, including more than 130 in-depth interviews with Afghan males and females having been in Taliban custody.
The UNAMA report details methods of torture authorities used to extract confessions or other information, saying detainees were subjected to severe pain and suffering through physical beatings, electric shocks, asphyxiation, stress positions, and forced ingestion of water, as well as blindfolding and threats.
The report noted that 24% of the victims were journalists or civil society members, 21% were former Afghan government members and 44% were individuals with no particular affiliation. The rest included those affiliated with arms groups and people detained in order to extract information.
It also documented the death of 18 detainees, including former Afghan security forces and opposition fighters, while the rest’s association was unknown.
“The personal accounts of beatings, electric shocks, water torture, and numerous other forms of cruel and degrading treatment, along with threats made against individuals and their families, are harrowing,” said Volker Türk, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. “I urge all concerned de facto authorities to put in place concrete measures to halt these abuses and hold perpetrators accountable.”
The Taliban have denied the UNAMA allegations. In a response attached to the report, the foreign ministry in Kabul insisted security institutions were carrying out their work lawfully and shared details of the steps they had taken to uphold the rights of detainees.
The Interior Ministry-led police department identified 21 cases of human rights violations, and they were under investigation, the Taliban said.
“Fortunately, Sharia (Islamic religious, social, and cultural values), which have been approved to protect and respect fundamental and Islamic rights, prohibit the torture of people even for the purpose of obtaining the truth,” the Taliban office of prison administration was quoted as saying.
The UNAMA report noted that the Taliban had introduced some measures to monitor abuses in detention centers.
“Although there have been some encouraging signs in terms of leadership directives as well as an openness among many de facto officials to engage constructively with UNAMA and allow visits to prisons, these documented cases highlight the need for urgent, accelerated action by all,” said Roza Otunbayeva, the mission’s chief in Kabul.
Khaama: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in collaboration with the organization’s Women’s Division and the International Organization for Migration, has released a joint report on the status of women in Afghanistan. This report is based on interviews and consultations with 592 women across 22 provinces in the early months of 2023. It reveals that 69% of women in this study suffer from isolation, depression, and humiliation. These interviews were conducted online and in person from April to June 2023. It is worth noting that women in Afghanistan, following the resurgence of the Taliban to power, have faced increasing restrictions and limitations, with more than 50 restrictive decrees affecting their lives. Click here to read more (external link).
Ariana: Maiwand Champions defeated Hindukush Strikers by seven wickets in the final match on Tuesday to win the Ahmad Shah Abdali First Class Tournament. Sent to bat first, Hindukush Strikers’ first innings saw an impressive batting display, with Aftab Alam (83), Darwish Rasooli (80) and Shabir Noori (65) leading the charge. Click here to read more (external link).
8am: Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former leader of the Jamayat-E-Islami party, met his demise at the hands of a suicide bomber who allegedly concealed a bomb in his turban. At the time of his unfortunate death, Rabbani held the esteemed position of leading Afghanistan’s High Peace Council. He had also been a prominent figure within Afghanistan’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, diligently translating numerous articles from Brotherhood thinkers into Persian. For several decades, Rabbani stood as a formidable political force in Afghanistan. From 1992 to 2001, international documents formally recognized him as the President of Afghanistan.
The turn of events after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 drastically altered Rabbani’s political landscape. Prior to this, certain members of the Jamayat-E-Islami party had attempted to pressure him into relinquishing power, but their endeavors proved fruitless. After the capture of Kabul by the United Front, also known as the Northern Alliance, with the air and financial support of the United States, Rabbani was unwilling to concede political authority. He sought to retain power, at least temporarily, and capitalize on his enduring political influence. However, a combination of factors, including internal discord among his party members, notably former Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, as well as pressure from the Americans, who even resorted to firing missiles near his residence in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan area as a form of intimidation, ultimately compelled him to relinquish power to Hamid Karzai.
September 19, 2023
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of women in Afghanistan say the United Nations should not recognize the Taliban government until women’s access to work and education is restored, according to a new survey.
About 46% of the 592 Afghan women who spoke to U.N. surveyors in July said the world body should not recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan “under any circumstances.”
Half of the survey respondents said that any recognition of the Taliban government should hinge on tangible improvements in women’s rights, including their rights to education and work.
Since seizing power in 2021, the Taliban have shuttered secondary schools and universities for girls, leaving countless young women without access to education, and have enforced sweeping restrictions on women’s employment.
The Islamist regime has also imposed myriad other restrictions on women’s social rights such as access to sports and entertainment sites prompting the U.N. and human rights organizations to call Afghanistan a country under “gender-apartheid.”
“They [survey responders] expressed concern that recognition would only encourage the de facto authorities to continue becoming stricter in their policies and practices against women and girls,” the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report on Tuesday.
The Taliban’s appeals for international recognition have met with resounding calls for change. Many countries have demanded that the regime abandon its misogynistic policies, form an inclusive government, and respect human rights.
However, Taliban officials contend that their “Islamic Emirate” is inclusive and respects human rights, albeit within the framework of Islamic Sharia law.
“Steps toward normalization, I think, are not going to be possible. And I think there will remain remarkable unity among the international community until and unless we see a significant change in their [Taliban] treatment of the population,” Thomas West, United States’ Special Representative for Afghanistan, said last week.
“We will not give up until Afghan girls’ rights to education and women’s rights to work are restored,” Toor Pekai, the mother of Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, told VOA Afghanistan service in an online interview on Monday.
The U.N. survey has also revealed remarkable setbacks in women’s health, income and social influence under the Taliban rule.
“Women consulted frequently describe their lives as that of prisoners living in darkness, confined to the home without hope of a future,” states the UNAMA’s report.
Most of the women surveyed, 80%, reported a drop in their ability to undertake income-generating activities.
In July, the Taliban banned women’s beauty salons in Afghanistan, depriving some 4,000 women of income.
This loss of income has had a profound impact on women’s social and familial roles, diminishing their influence in household decision-making.
“Sixty-nine percent reported that feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression had grown significantly,” the U.N. report says.
The plight of Afghan women is further exacerbated by a deepening humanitarian crisis in the country and a sharp reduction in humanitarian funding.
A U.N. appeal for $3.227 billion for 2023 has received less than 28% of the required funding as of September 19. This shortfall has forced aid agencies to cut essential food aid and health care services, affecting millions of vulnerable Afghans, including women and children.
Ruslan Suleymanov via carnegieendowment.org: The likely next step for Moscow is to officially remove the Taliban from Russia’s list of terrorist organizations and recognize the government in Kabul. But even those steps would be purely symbolic. They are unlikely to do much to deepen economic ties between the two countries. Click here to read more (external link).