HRW Describes Mistreatment of Detained Afghan Women Protesters In New Report

Thursday, 10/20/2022

Human Rights Watch in a report described how three Afghan women protesters who had been detained by the Taliban had been tortured and severely mistreated.

HRW, quoting the women, said that they had been wrongfully detained along with their families, including children.

It added that such accounts portray how the Taliban are trying to supress the women’s protests.

“It’s difficult to overstate the incredible bravery of these and other Afghan women who protest against Taliban abuses,” said Heather Barr, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “These women’s stories show how deeply threatened the Taliban feel by their activities, and the brutal lengths the Taliban go to try to silence them.”

HRW urged the Taliban to immediately release everyone detained for exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful protest. It asked the group to respect the rights of all to peaceful assembly and free expression, including journalists covering protests. “They should end all arbitrary detention, ensure due process, including promptly charging suspects in custody before an independent judge, and providing immediate access to counsel,” the report sought.

The global organisation said that the women experienced threats, beatings, dangerous conditions of confinement, denial of due process, abusive conditions of release, and other abuses.

The report also claimed that the male relatives of these protesters had been assaulted and administered electric shocks. In the report, HRW has detailed the torture and mistreatment of three women who had been arrested by the Taliban during a single raid on a safe house in Kabul in February 2022.

The report added, “The three women described being held initially in a single cramped and stiflingly hot room with a total of 21 women and 7 children for five days, provided virtually no food or water or access to a toilet. The Taliban held them for several weeks, and abusively interrogated them, without allowing access to counsel or other due process rights, forcibly coerced confessions, and severely tortured the men. The Taliban compelled the three women’s families to hand over the original deeds to their property as the price for release, with the threat that the Taliban would confiscate the property if the women got into trouble again.”

It also added that anyone responsible for torture or other ill-treatment should be impartially investigated and appropriately prosecuted.

It also asked governments engaging with the Taliban to press them to comply with Afghanistan’s obligations under international law including to respect freedom of speech and assembly, to ensure due process, and to prevent torture and other ill-treatment.

After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, they immediately began rolling back the rights of women and girls. Women began to protest on the streets since Taliban’s first week in power, despite the grave risks they faced in doing so. The Taliban response was brutal from the beginning, beating protesters, disrupting protests, and detaining and torturing journalists covering the demonstrations.

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