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The long and unending list of Taliban atrocities
New Delhi, Aug 7 - Taliban has perpetrated violence and human rights abuses in Afghanistan and are kidnapping women to force them into sex slavery.
After gaining significant control over the Bamiyan province in July, Taliban fighters demanded the names and ages of girls and women they said would be rounded up and married off to their young fighters.
Foreign Policy magazine reported that in the central highlands of Bamiyan province, the insurgents beat some men who tried to resist and forced some residents to show them closets of clothing to determine the ages of the girls and women who lived there.
Among the women whose names they took down were widows of men killed fighting with the Afghan military against the insurgency.
The magazine said, "Terrified women packed what they could, hired cars and goods carts, or simply walked to escape what some described as their worst nightmare?being kidnapped and forced into sex slavery by the Taliban."
Earlier this year, three Afghan women who worked at a media company were gunned down in Jalalabad in early March. In January, the Taliban had killed two female Supreme Court judges in Kabul.
Several reports and evidence have emerged in Afghan media highlighting how the Taliban is using children as human shields against Afghan security forces. The US Embassy in Afghanistan confirmed on August 3 that the Taliban have been using civilians as human shields at the battlefield.
The Taliban have also taken over the houses of civilians in the provinces of Herat, Helmand and Kandahar and are using their homes as bunkers.
Several examples of targeted attack on women are coming in.
For example: A woman was taken down from a car on the Badghis-Herat highway on August 3 and shot dead by the Taliban for working for women's rights and for not covering herself in a veil.
Similarly, another woman named Wazir from Malistan was shot and she lost her eyes while defending her home.
Countless children are fighting from mental illness amid the violent attacks by the Taliban. Hospitals in Paktika province reported about admission of children who went through severe mental illness after witnessing the violence unleashed by the Taliban in their surroundings.
The Taliban have also been persecuting religious minorities. During a recent hearing held by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director for the Asia Programme at the Wilson Centre, said, "The withdrawal will make these vulnerable communities even more vulnerable. It's as simple as that."
The Taliban also emoved the holy Nishan Sahib, the Sikh religious flag, from the roof of Gurdwara Thala Sahib in Chamkani in Paktia province. The historical gurdwara was visited by Sri Guru Nanak Dev.
In July 2021, Sikh and Hindu communities of Afghanistan had appealed to the international community to evacuate them to safety before it gets too late. They also said that four out of five Gurdwaras in Kabul were closed and th Parkash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was being done only at the Kartae Parwan Gurdwara.
According to reports in local media, the Taliban fighters have murdered more than 40 civilians in Malistan in the past one week. Most of these civilians were from the minority Hazara community.
On August 3, Taliban terrorists dragged six Hazara citizens out of a vehicle in the eastern part of Firoz Koh city and abducted them. The knowhow of the Hazara citizens is yet unknown.
Mohammad Mohaqiq, senior advisor to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said that Taliban terrorists are committing war crimes and shooting civilians in Hazara inhabited areas.
Mohaqiq called on the UN and the Human Rights Watch to investigate and condemn the Taliban for their crimes against humanity against Shiites and Hazaras.
According to non-profit organisation Open Doors, "It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts can face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they must flee the country, or they will be killed."
Open Doors ranks Afghanistan second on its World Watch List. The only country to outrank Afghanistan in Christian persecution is North Korea. According to Open Doors, persecution in Afghanistan "is only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea".
Residents in Herat and Helmand are leaving their houses and carrying Quran with them to protect them from being desecrated in Taliban attacks.
The Taliban fired three rockets near the Presidential Palace in Kabul when President Ashraf Ghani and other high ranking officials were offering prayers to mark the Eid al-Adha.
The Taliban have also been silencing artistes, whistleblowers, and the press. Till date, more than 51 media outlets have been closed in Afghanistan due to an increase in violence over the last three months.
Acting Minister of Information and Culture, Qasim Wafaeezada, recently revealed that so far, 35 media outlets have stopped their operations, over 6 media outlets have fallen to the Taliban and are being used as a voice for their activities.
According to the 'Nai - Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan', the Taliban looted the equipment of the radio station (Saday Deh Rawood) in the last week of July and destroyed its building after occupying the Deh Rawood district of Uruzgan province.
Taliban terrorists also abducted and murdered popular Afghan comedian Nazar Mohammad Khasha. A video of abduction and barbaric torture of Kasha emerged on social media, revealing the brutal nature of Taliban.
Prominent Afghan poet and historian, Abdullah Atifi, was killed on 4th August by Taliban after he was taken out of his home in Chora district in Uruzgan.
Taliban terrorists killed Dawa Khan Menapal, head of the Afghan government's media and information centre, in a gunmen attack in Darul Aman Road in Kabul on August 6.
The Taliban also murdered Pulitzer Prize winning Reuters photo journalist Danish Siddiqui in a planned operation, wherein they had attacked a mosque where Siddiqui had gone to receive first-aid, captured him, vetted his identity, and then executed him, after fighting off the Afghan forces who came to a rescue.
Findings from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission show that more than 900,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the war in the past three months.
Several reports are emerging in Afghan media about Taliban looting, murdering, and taking civilians as hostages in and around Lashkargah in Helmand province. Besides, they are also forcing women to cook, taking their clothes and jewellery, and shooting children in front of their parent's eyes.
The former police chief of Kandahar, Tadin Khan, said that the Taliban have killed up to 900 people in Kandahar province in the past month-and-a-half. Among the killed civilians, most hailed from the Spin Boldak district.
Afghan media reports suggest that a number of soldiers who were taken captive after fighting were first tortured, then their hands were tied and eyes were gouged by the Taliban.
On August 4, the US Embassy in Afghanistan recently observed that they are coming across concerning reports the Taliban entice ANDSF units to surrender with the promise they will be unharmed, and then those soldiers disappear in the night and their widows are forced to marry Taliban fighters.
Several reports of Taliban firing artillery and mortar on civilians are frequently being reported. The provinces wherein civilians are being constantly attacked by the Taliban include: Faryab, Herat, Helmand, Laghman, Zabul, Nimroz, Balkh, Khost, Kandahar, Kapisa, and Kabul.
At least two civilians were killed by the Taliban during an attack on a national flag gathering event on 30th July in the Yaqubi district of Khost province. Besides, more than 30 citizens were injured in the attack.
Further, on August 4, at least eight Afghan citizens were killed and more than 20 were injured in a deadly Taliban attack and car bomb blast outside Afghanistan's Defence Minister's residence in Kabul.
According to the New York Times report titled "Afghan War Casualty Report: August 2021: Aug 1-5, 2021", at least 115 Afghan security forces and 58 civilians were killed in the first five days of August.
The report highlighted, "In a serious escalation of their campaign, the Taliban have laid siege in recent weeks to several provincial capitals after sweeping through much of the country's rural areas... The deadliest incident so far in August occurred in Nimruz Province, where the Taliban attacked Kang district, killing 30 security forces and overrunning the district. The police chief and six other security forces surrendered to the Taliban, but the group shot them to death. In Helmand Province, 20 civilians were killed and 189 others were wounded..."
Continuing their assault on communication infrastructure of Afghanistan, the Taliban militants recently destroyed at least 51 towers of the state-run Salam telecommunication network in Paktia, Helmand, and Kabul provinces and seized technical equipment in districts they have captured in the offensive.
Moreover, they have also launched rocket attacks on Kabul and Herat airports. Besides, Salma Dam in Heart and Shah wa Arus Dam in Kabul are also frequently facing Taliban attacks.
The Taliban has been hitting critical roads and bridges connecting Afghani provinces. Most recently, the Taliban destroyed three bridges in Rorkhrod district in Nangarhar on 4th August and bombarded on roads across different provinces of Afghanistan.
The May 8 attack outside the Sayed ul-Shuhuda school in Kabul accounted for more than 300 civilian casualties, mostly girls, including 85 killed.
The Afghan government has recently informed that the Taliban had destroyed 172 schools in different parts of the country in the past two months.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) obtained a list of 44 men from Spin Boldak, Kandahar, whom the Taliban have killed since July 16. All had registered with the Taliban before being summarily executed. The HRW observed that Taliban forces advancing in Ghazni, Kandahar and other provinces have summarily executed detained soldiers, police, and civilians with alleged ties to the Afghan government.
In its report titled "I Thought Our Life Might Get Better: Implementing Afghanistan's Elimination of Violence against Women Law", released on August 5, the HRW observed: "Taliban courts have also imposed harsh punishments for 'moral crimes', including 'zina'. In such cases, the Taliban have sentenced the accused to cruel punishments that include lashing and, in some cases, execution."
In an interview with The Guardian, a Taliban judge in Obe district, Herat, spoke of an adultery case over which he had presided in April, saying: "I recently ordered the flogging of a woman inside her home. Relatives and neighbours came to us and said there were witnesses to this man and woman being together. We lashed her 20 times."
Deborah Lyons, The UN special envoy for Afghanistan, questioned the Taliban's commitment to a political settlement and told the UN Security Council the war has entered a "deadlier and more destructive phase" with more than 1,000 civilians killed in the past month during a Taliban offensive.
She added, "This is now a different kind of war, reminiscent of Syria, recently, or Sarajevo, in the not-so-distant past."
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently expressed its concerns over the safety and protection of people in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
The OCHA said in a statement on August 4, "In Helmand and Kandahar, there are reports of increased civilian casualties, destruction or damage to civilian houses as well as to critical infrastructure, including hospitals. Hospitals and health workers are becoming overwhelmed by the number of wounded people."
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