There are words and then there are actions, and when it comes to the Taliban, there is little consistency between the two.
The Taliban appear to have learned from Western politicians that there’s great value in playing the media in support of their cause, as seen this week when they claimed with a straight face that women’s rights will be respected in Afghanistan.
On the same day this propaganda was being uttered, Taliban fighters shot and killed a woman in Takhar province after she went out in public without a burqa, according to The Associated Press. The Taliban have said women will have to wear hijabs but not burkas.
A horrific photo was released of a young woman lying in a pool of her own blood in district Taloqan, while her parents and others kneel around her. The news agency reported that she was killed by insurgents for not wearing a head covering. Then again, when the Taliban said they’d honor women’s rights and encouraged girls to return to school and women to even join the government, it came with a damning caveat.
a damning photo shows a woman in district Taloqan, Takhar province, lying in a pool of blood as her parents and others crouch around her, a pitcher on the ground nearby. She was shot and killed for going out without a burqa pic.twitter.com/DEwnLywRju
— BIDEN Disaster Coverage. Foreign Policy Disaster. (@RaptorsUniverse) August 18, 2021
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the militant group is “committed to the rights of women under the system of sharia law,” but stressed women would work and study “within our frameworks.”
First question from Taliban to Al Jazeera female reporter asking about women’s rights. Zabiullah Mujahid says women have rights as long as they follow sharia law pic.twitter.com/6xzD3xzZsk
— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) August 17, 2021
Mujahid declared that “Afghanistan is no longer a battlefield of conflict,” and claimed that they will grant “amnesty” to Afghans who worked with the U.S.
“We have pardoned all those who have fought against us,” he said. “Animosities have come to an end. We do not want to have any problems with the international community.”
Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, regurgitated these talking points.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with full dignity and honesty has announced a complete amnesty for all Afghanistan, especially those who were with the opposition or supported the occupiers for years and recently,” Samangani said, according to the Associated Press. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan doesn’t want the women to be the victims anymore … The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to provide women with the environment to work and study, and the presence of women in different (government) structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values.”
There are reports of Taliban atrocities in provinces outside of Kabul, brutality is being seen within the capital city also.
Armed militants packed in vehicles were seen on video patrolling residential areas for activists and government workers, Fox News reported. Gunshots can be heard as they accelerate down the street.
Citing an Afghan and former State Department contractor, the network said Taliban fighters have set up checkpoints throughout Kabul and that they are beating civilians trying to get to the airport and escape the country. He said the Taliban are searching neighborhoods for people who have helped the U.S. and that they questioned his neighbors about him.
“There was kids, women, babies, old women, they could barely walk,” the source said, adding that they’re in a “very, very bad situation.”
“I’m telling you. At the end, I was thinking that there was like 10,000 or more than 10,000 people, and they’re running into the airport,” he added. “The Taliban [were] beating people and the people were jumping from the fence, the concertina wire, and also the wall.”
With events on the ground rapidly deteriorating, the U.S. continues to scramble to evacuate thousands of Americans and allies. There are reports that the Taliban have set up a perimeter outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, which is controlled by the U.S. military, and are checking the documents of those who try to enter.
Taliban are all around the Kabul airport. Interpreter with a visa told me he can’t get to the terminal. pic.twitter.com/uN4EkBd25n
— Ben Packham (@bennpackham) August 18, 2021
They are reportedly also using whips and sharp objects to drive people trying to flee away from the airport.
*GRAPHIC WARNING* Taliban fighters use gunfire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait for a way out, on airport road. At least half dozen were wounded while I was there, including a woman and her child. #Kabul pic.twitter.com/a2KzNPx07R
— Marcus Yam 文火 (@yamphoto) August 17, 2021
Getty Images (08/17): “A man carries a bloodied child, as a woman lays wounded on the street after Taliban fighters use guns fire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside the Kabul Airport for a way out.” pic.twitter.com/wLiupImyB1
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 17, 2021
Fox News reported Tuesday that White House press secretary Jen Psaki stopped short of pledging that the military would help evacuate all Americans and allies who remain in the country past the end of the month.
Meanwhile, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan talked about things like sanctions, international condemnation and isolation that the administration can deploy should Afghan women be mistreated.
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