As women take to streets, Taliban says no protest without permission

Women have been at the forefront of protests in Kabul and other cities of Afghanistan, fearing a repeat of the repression seen during Taliban's 1996-2001 rule.

The Taliban government have banned demonstrations that do not have official approval, a day after women faced whips and sticks at a protest held against the appointment of an all-male government in Afghanistan.

A decree issued by the Taliban government’s interior ministry, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is a UN-designated global terrorist since 2007, states that protestors have to secure permission for demonstrations or face “severe legal consequences”.

Women have been at the forefront of protests in Kabul and other cities of Afghanistan, fearing a repeat of the repressive policies seen during Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule.

A protest held by women in Kabul on Wednesday demanded representation of women in the Afghanistan government, where demonstrators held placards saying “No government can deny the presence of women” and “I will sing freedom over and over”.

Some placards also had the image of a pregnant police officer who was killed in Ghor province a few days ago, CNN reported. While the Taliban used force to disperse the protest, online news outlet EtilaatRoz said its journalists Taqi Daryabi and Neamat Naqdi were severely beaten for covering the demonstration.

In a protest outside the Pakistan embassy in Kabul on Tuesday, the Taliban fired into the air and arrested journalists. The protest came after the last remaining province Panjshir fell to Taliban and the people were lamenting Pakistan’s interference in Afghanistan. On the same day, a group of women held a protest in Balkh province calling to preserve the achievements of the past 20 years and demanding women’s representation in the future government in Afghanistan. Three people died at another protest held in western Herat, BBC reported.

Last Saturday, Taliban special forces fired their weapons into the air to end a protest march towards the Kabul presidential palace by women demanding equal rights. Videos on social media showed activist Rabia Sadat, who alleged that she was beaten by the Taliban. With an injury on her head. A day ago, another women’s protest in Kabul saw around 20 women with microphones gathered under the watchful eyes of Taliban gunmen, who allowed the demonstration to proceed. The women demanded access to education, the right to return to work and a role in governing the country. “Freedom is our motto. It makes us proud,” read one of their signs.

The bans comes within a week of reports showing women and men being separated by a curtain in a classroom of Kabul’s Avicenna University. Additionally, women’s sports — and women’s cricket specifically — will be banned, the group announced, according to a SBS TV report.

Further, cementing women’s fears, the Taliban formed an all-male government – comprising its loyalists – on Tuesday. A policy statement spoke of protecting the rights of minorities and the underprivileged, and it promised education “to all countrymen within the framework of Sharia.” Women were not mentioned in the three-page statement.

Amnesty International voiced concerns about “reports on use of violence against peaceful protestors and journalists in Kabul by the Taliban”. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch tweeted: “In yet another indication that #Afghanistan’s new rulers will not tolerate peaceful dissent, the Taliban again used force to crush a protest by hundreds of #Afghan women calling for their rights today.”

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