The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on July 20 released a report holding the ruling Taliban regime responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and inhumane punishments in the first 10 months since they seized power. In total, UNAMA found that Taliban forces engaged in 239 extrajudicial killings, 313 arbitrary arrests and detentions, 46 cases of incommunicado detention, and 73 instances of torture. Most of the incidents targeted former Afghan National Defense & Security Forces (ANDSF) soldiers, officials from the previous government, ISIL-KP members, or National Resistance Front fighters. UNAMA also identified an additional 217 instances of degrading punishments and 118 uses of excessive force against civilians. Finally, Taliban forces also engaged in at least 163 rights violations targeting journalists and 64 targeting human rights defenders.
At a May 7 press conference in Kabul, the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue & Prevention of Vice released an order from Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, stating that women outside the home must cover their faces. The all-encompassing blue burqa, or chadari, which became a global symbol of the Taliban's previous extremist rule from 1996 to 2001, was proposed as a suitable covering. The text of the decree calls such covering "obligatory" for all "mature and noble" women. The mandate is imposed "in order to avoid provocation when meeting men who are not mahram," or immediate family. Tellingly, the order does not impose penalties on women themselves but on their male guardians. The fathers and husbands of women accused of going barefaced are to be summoned and, on repeat offenses, fired from government jobs or imprisoned.
Afghanistan authorities say some 60 civilians, including five children, were killed as Pakistan launched air-strikes across the border on Khost and Kunar provinces April 15 and 16. The strikes, carried out by both missiles and warplanes, follow a series of attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan's borderlands, including an April 14 ambush on a military convoy in North Waziristan district in the volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Some 36,400 Afghan refugees lack a clear path to US citizenship or permanent residency, according to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Jan. 28. The report surveys the immigration status of more than 76,000 Afghan refugees now under the supervision of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), a DHS-coordinated program aimed at resettling Afghans within the United States. OAW, initiated on Aug. 29, is the domestic counterpart to Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), the military effort to evacuate select Afghan citizens after their country fell to the Taliban that month.
Taliban fighters—now acting as the security forces of the self-declared "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan"—used tear-gas to break up a protest by women in Kabul on Jan. 16, called under the banner of "Rights and Freedom Now." The small demonstration in the vicinity of Kabul University especially called attention to two incidents in recent days—the detention of three women activists at a protest in the northern city of Balkh, in Mazar province, who have yet to be released; and the slaying of two young women of the Hazara ethnic minority by Taliban gunmen at a checkpoint in Kabul. Taliban authorities are calling the Jan. 14 killings at the checkpoint an "accident," and have reportedly arrested one of the fighters involved. In the continuing protests since the Taliban seizure of power, women have been in the vanguard. (TOLO News, Kabul. Times of India, The Independent)
Taliban forces in Afghanistan have summarily executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in just four provinces since taking over the country in August, despite a proclaimed amnesty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Nov. 30. The report, 'No Forgiveness for People Like You'—Executions and Enforced Disappearances in Afghanistan under the Taliban, documents the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)—military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and militia—who had surrendered or were apprehended by Taliban forces between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31. HRW gathered credible information on more than 100 killings from Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces alone.
A group of women took to the streets of Kabul on Oct. 26 to protest the continued barring of girls from schools since the Taliban takeover, and accused the international community of being silent about what is going on in Afghanistan. The women gathered at the gates of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), demanding an audience with the agency's head Deborah Lyons and calling UNAMA's silence on the situation for women and girls in the country "shameful." The women chanted "Right to education, right to work, are fundamental rights of women" and "History will be ashamed of the silence of the UN." (Khaama)
Some 5,000 troops from member states of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Oct. 18 initiated military maneuvers code-named "Echelon-2021," Search-2021" and "Interaction-2021" in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan. More than half of the troops involved are Russian. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov, head of the CSTO joint staff, said in a statement: "We pay special attention to the Central Asian region. The situation around the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remains the main source of instability. This is why we are holding three drills simultaneously for the first time as part of the joint training."