The Taliban 2.0? Forget all the sweet talk. After only a few days, nothing remains of the so-called embellished image. Far from the cameras, fighters in Afghanistan are committing the same atrocities as before. For example, an Afghan police chief was executed blindfolded, civilians were beaten for waving the national flag, and female news anchors are no longer allowed to appear on TV.
General Haji Mullah Achakzai was known as a sworn enemy of the Taliban. He fought the rebel group in Badghis province for years, but now he pays for that bravery with his life. Images of his execution, in which he can be seen tied up and blindfolded, were circulated via social media.
Yesterday, a crowd in Kabul took to the streets to protest the Taliban’s presence. A symbolic date, because exactly 102 years ago, Afghanistan declared independence. Striking: it was the women who took the lead in the protest with national flags. However, the Taliban fighters frightened them off with gunshots and beat the fiercest demonstrators with a stick.
TV presenters and female news anchors who moved to their workplaces were then told to return home immediately. “They told me I never had to come back,” Mursal Amiri said. “I was also called names for wearing makeup. Every woman who was there had to leave the building immediately. Later, when I watched TV, I imagined myself in the mosque. Bearded men only talked about religion and Sharia.”
Shabnam Dawran was also banned from work. The Afghan presenter pleaded with the international community for help in a video. “If the world hears me, please help us. Our lives are in danger.”
The horror stories now follow each other in rapid succession. According to Amnesty International, six Hazara men were shot dead after Taliban fighters took control of Ghazni province last month. Three others were tortured to death.
The Hazaras are an ethnic group that mainly live in the central mountain region. In Afghanistan, they are discriminated against because of their religion and appearance. When the Taliban took power in 1996, there were mass killings.
The extremists are going from house to house in some neighbourhoods, trying to find people on their blacklists. Academics, activists, and human rights defenders are particularly targeted, but officials, interpreters, and staff collaborating with Western powers are also at risk.
A journalist from the German news channel ‘Deutsche Welle’ is also intensively sought. In retaliation, one of his relatives was shot, and a second victim was seriously injured. Some of the other attendees only managed to flee in the nick of time.
Meanwhile, the situation at Kabul airport remains very chaotic. A 14-year-old girl was trampled, among others, after gunshots were suddenly sounded and panic broke out. Even today, women and children were again overrun.
Explosions are said to have been heard, resulting in new deaths. In fact, some women are so desperate that they throw their babies over the barbed wire, hoping to give them a better life.