Even After Oslo Meeting, Taliban Continues to Arrest and Torture Afghan Women Protesters

The Taliban continue to arrest and detain civil society activists, journalists, former government and security forces in Afghanistan.

Women’s rights activists Tamana Zaryab Paryani (center) and Parwana Ibrahimkhel were arrested last month in Kabul after a Jan. 16 protest, according to four women’s rights activists. (Facebook)

On Jan. 19, a video circulating on social media showed Tamana Zaryab Paryani, an Afghan women’s rights activist and journalist, pleading for help moments before armed men claiming to be Taliban intelligence broke into her apartment and abducted her and three of her sisters. Paryani recorded the video on her phone while the men were pounding on her door, “Help, please, the Taliban have come to our home … only my sisters are [here].”

Paryani was leading protests in Kabul and she was speaking up on social media and the international media against the Taliban’s restrictions on women and their brutality. Fellow activists Parwana Ibrahimkhel and several other protesters were arrested from their homes. Most of the women’s families do not want to speak or identify themselves for the safety of other family members.

Rokhshana Rezai, co-founder of the Afghan Powerful Women’s Movement, told TRT World that Paryani and Parwana were arrested by the Taliban for their bold voices. “They both fiercely stood up for our basic rights and were arrested by the Taliban and are currently being held by them. There are several witnesses to their arrests, and all of them say the men claimed to be the Taliban.”

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied the abduction of the women but also said the authorities had the right “to arrest and detain dissidents or those who break the law.”

The United Nations has also raised concerns over the arrests and detentions of civil society activists, journalists, former government and security forces personnel in Afghanistan. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR ) announced that they have received credible reports of gross human rights violations by the Taliban. Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told journalists in Geneva she is “very concerned” over the safety and well-being of the protesters.

“We call on the de facto authorities to publicly report on the findings of their investigation into the abduction and disappearance of these women activists and their relatives, to take all possible measures to ensure their safe and immediate release, and to hold those responsible to account,” said Shamdasani. 

Shamdasani also demanded prompt investigation of the arbitrary arrests from the Taliban official and asked for those responsible for abductions to be held accountable in line with international human rights law. “All those who may be arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights must be promptly released. … We also urge the Taliban leadership to send clear messages to their rank-and-file that there must be no reprisals against people who demonstrate peacefully and exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Since they seized Afghanistan on August 15, the Taliban have increasingly violated women’s and human rights by detaining women and girls and restricting them from jobs, education, and other fundamental rights. There have also been disturbing reports on Afghan women leaders being killed or missing in recent months.

On Jan. 21, the Taliban were flown by a private jet to Oslo, Norway, for a meeting with officials from the U.S., the European Union, France, Germany, the U.K. and Norway. The Taliban committed to investigate the kidnapping of women and civic leaders. Despite those promises, Afghan journalists and women leaders continue to disappear at the hands of the Taliban, often taken to undisclosed locations.

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