Taliban’s crackdown on women’s rights demonstration was envisioned on Thursday, as Taliban fired shots into the air and pushed back protestors who demanded the right of education to be resumed.
The AFP journalists witnessed that a group of six women gathered outside a high school in eastern Kabul demanding the right for girls to return to secondary school, after the hardline Islamist group excluded them from classes earlier this month.
Taliban’s crackdown and acts of intimidation on women protests
The women unfurled a banner that read “Don’t break our pens, don’t burn our books, don’t close our schools”, before Taliban guards snatched it from them.
Taliban’s crackdown was evident as they pushed back the women protesters as they tried to continue with the demonstration, while a foreign journalist was hit with a rifle and blocked from filming.
A Taliban fighter also released a brief burst of gunfire into the air with his automatic weapon, AFP journalists saw.
The demonstrators — from a group called the “Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women Activists” — took refuge inside the school.
Taliban’s crackdown necessary to safeguard security, says Taliban’s guard
Taliban guard Mawlawi Nasratullah, who led the group and identified himself as the head of special forces in Kabul, said the demonstrators “did not coordinate with security authorities regarding their protest”. The guard backed the Taliban’s crackdown with this statement claiming that it was necessary to prevent the protests from going beyond bounds.
“They have the right to protest in our country like every other country. But they must inform the security institutes before,” he said.
Protests by women since Taliban takeover
Isolated rallies with women at the forefront were staged in cities around the country after the Taliban seized power, including in the western city of Herat where two people were shot dead.
But protests have dwindled since the government issued an order that unsanctioned demonstrations and warned of “severe legal action” for violators. The Taliban crackdown was evident earlier when women took to streets in response to a male-dominated cabinet and closure of education. The women activists demand that they are asking for their basic fundamental rights which Taliban promised to safeguard when they came to power the second time.
It has been almost two weeks since girls were prevented from going to secondary school.
The Taliban follow a strict interpretation of sharia law that segregates men and women, and have also slashed women’s access to work.
They have said they need to establish the right conditions before girls can return to the classroom, but many Afghans are skeptical.