News out of Afghanistan offers damning proof that today’s Taliban are unchanged from the barbaric forces who terrorized the Afghan population between 1996 and 2001.
On Nov. 13, the Taliban’s spokesperson announced that convicted Afghan criminals would be punished in public with measures including stoning, execution, amputation, or physical beatings. The Taliban have begun meting out mass punishments, administering lashings to 11 Afghans at a mosque in Takhar province and to two Afghans at a sports stadium in Bamyan. The most widely publicized of these events occurred last week when the Taliban sent social media invitations for “honorable scholars, mujahideen, elders, tribal leaders and local people” to attend a public lashing in Logar province. In a sports arena, 14 Afghans were given between 21 and 39 lashes for crimes including adultery, homosexual sex, and theft. The victims included three women.
While the return of public beatings offers horrifying visual proof of the Taliban’s inhumanity, other escalations demonstrate additional reason for concern. Afghan allies and former Afghan government personnel continue to face hardship finding employment and evading Taliban reprisals. Members of ethnic minorities are likewise living under threat. Since the U.S. withdrawal, members of the Hazara minority have been targeted in numerous high-profile bombings carried out by ISIS affiliate Islamic State Khorasan. The Taliban have also targeted Hazaras. Amnesty International alleges the Taliban killed six Hazaras, including a woman and child, during a raid in Ghor province in June. Also last week, Taliban members executed nine Hazaras during an attack on a village in Daikundi province. Though the Taliban state their victims were members of a rebel group, they ranged from 1 to 14 years old. At least one journalist has rejected claims that victims were engaged in rebellion.
The Taliban also continue to repress and arbitrarily kill Tajiks in northern Afghanistan, where the National Resistance Front engages the Taliban in an active insurgency. In one incident last Sunday, Taliban members allegedly raped a woman and her four daughters, ages 10 to 18, during a late-night raid on the family’s home. The Taliban representative in the province said the reports were false.
In the 16 months since they came to power, there has been escalating proof of the Taliban’s predatory behaviors and lack of trustworthiness. All the same, Taliban leaders continue to engage with world leaders and bring in revenue. In their latest money-making boon, Taliban senior leaders have utilized construction equipment purchased in Qatar to carry out building projects that “netted millions” in the lead-up to the World Cup. The profits from this scheme and others are unlikely to be used to alleviate the suffering of the estimated 90% of Afghans who do not have enough food.
In the past, leaders and the international community have responded to the Taliban’s misogynistic and harmful orders with pleas that the group change its oppressive behavior. On Nov. 25, U.N. Special Rapporteurs stated that the Taliban’s treatment of women may constitute crimes against humanity.
But any facade the Taliban retained of having changed their behavior since their prior regime has officially vanished. World leaders and humanitarian groups must step up efforts to aid Afghans living under the thumbs of the brutal Talibs. Simultaneously, international organizations must seek to make Taliban leaders accountable for their continued crimes.
Beth Bailey (@BWBailey85) is a freelance writer from the Detroit area.