Afghan women, others protest Taliban government appointees

Afghanistan’s new ruling government is drawing ire at home and abroad after regaining control of the country

Sept.+5%3A+Demonstrators+in+Paris%2C+France+hold+up+an+Afghan+flag+in+solidarity+with+the+countrys+women+and+its+refugees+following+the+Taliban+takeover.

Jeanne Menjoulet

Sept. 5: Demonstrators in Paris, France hold up an Afghan flag in solidarity with the country’s women and its refugees following the Taliban takeover.

On Tuesday, the Taliban announced its new cabinet following a military offensive and national takeover of Afghanistan last month.

The cabinet is all-male, drawing much consternation and scrutiny, and includes Sirajuddin Haqqani — who is wanted by the FBI — as its interim interior minister.

The announcement comes on the heels of a controversial U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. This move demonstrates the Taliban’s dominance over the government, and all of the newly-installed cabinet members have close ties with Taliban founder Muhammad Omar.  

Muhammad Hassan Akhund, one of Omar’s closest associates, was appointed acting prime minister. He stated he would protect human rights, and he urged all educated citizens not to leave Afghanistan for the country “desperately need(s) their talents, guidance, and work.”

Though he has claimed to protect women’s rights and put Afghans to work, Akhund has yet to implement any changes that will facilitate security for the country’s women.

The acting government’s confirmation caused men and women all over Afghanistan to march through the streets of the capital Kabul on Tuesday after the Taliban took over the Panjshir province.

On Monday, women marched through the city of Mazar-e Sharif, but as two witnesses reportedly saw, the group was broken up after two police cars intentionally drove into the crowd.     

“We were afraid, but at least we demanded our rights,” 26-year-old protester Karima Shujazada said. 

The Human Rights Watch has stated that ‘Taliban authorities are obligated under international human rights law to respect and uphold the right of everyone to peacefully protest,’ but the regime has purportedly imprisoned journalists and women alike for questioning its authority.”

In an interview with the BBC, two protesters spoke out about the marches and the Taliban’s efforts to suppress them.

“We were marching peacefully,” one said. “Then I saw 4-5 vehicles with about 10 Taliban fighters in each of them, following us.”

The protester stated that they were stopped by Afghani soldiers, and they were lashed with whips and beaten with batons.

“We were all beaten,” another protester stated. “I was also hit. They told us to go home, saying ‘that’s where a woman’s place is.'”

The Human Rights Watch has stated that “Taliban authorities are obligated under international human rights law to respect and uphold the right of everyone to peacefully protest,” but the regime has purportedly imprisoned journalists and women alike for questioning its authority.

International pressure is mounting on the Taliban to enshrine human rights — especially with respect to improving the lives of Afghan women — and to protect press freedom.