- The UN says Afghanistan’s ‘de facto authorities’ are releasing activists after weeks of disappearance.
- Activists went missing after participating in anti-Taliban demonstration.
- The Taliban say the authorities had the right to “arrest and detain dissidents or those who break the law”.
WASHINGTON: Four female activists in Afghanistan have been released by the country’s “de facto authorities” after going missing weeks ago, the United Nations said Sunday.
Since the Taliban returned to power in August, the Taliban have cracked down on dissidents by violently dispersing women’s rallies, detaining critics and often beating local journalists who reported on unauthorized protests.
Tamana Zaryabi Paryani, Parwana Ibrahimkhel, Zahra Mohammadi and Mursal Ayar went missing after participating in an anti-Taliban demonstration, but Afghanistan’s new rulers – whose government is still not recognized by any country – had consistently denied holding them.
“After a long period of uncertainty about their whereabouts and safety, the four ‘disappeared’ Afghan women activists, as well as their family members who were also missing, have all been released by de facto authorities,” the UN relief mission in Afghanistan said. (UNAMA) on Twitter.
AFP reported the release of Ibrahimkhel on Friday. She disappeared with Paryani on January 19, days after taking part in a demonstration in Kabul calling for women’s right to work and education.
Weeks later, Mohammadi and Ayar went missing. Some relatives of the four female protesters were also missing.
Shortly before she disappeared, images of Paryani were shared on social media, showing her in distress and warning of Taliban fighters at her door.
In the video, Paryani shouts, “Please help! Taliban have come to our house in Parwan 2. My sisters are home.”
It shows her saying to the men behind the door, “If you want to talk, we’ll talk tomorrow. I can’t meet you at night with these girls. I don’t want to (open the door)… Please! Help help !”
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: AFP in a recent interview that authorities had the right to “arrest and detain dissidents or those who break the law” after the government banned unsanctioned protests shortly after they came to power.
The Taliban have promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
But provincial authorities have imposed various restrictions on women and regularly issued guidelines on how they should live.
The new authorities have effectively banned women from working in various government sectors and most secondary schools for girls remain closed.
The Taliban have also issued an order that women are not allowed to travel between towns and villages unless accompanied by a close male relative.
They have put up posters in many shops in Kabul and other cities to encourage women to wear the all-encompassing burqa.
Earlier this month, the Taliban arrested two foreign journalists who work for the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.
Former BBC correspondent Andrew North and another foreign journalist were released Friday after days in custody, the UNHCR said.
Mujahid said they had been detained because they did not have valid ID cards and documents.
A “number” of British nationals are also being detained in Afghanistan, the British government told AFP on Saturday, adding that it had discussed the matter with officials there.
However, the Taliban are under pressure from the international community to respect human rights as the group engages Western countries and global donors to get aid to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
“UNAMA calls for the rights of every Afghan to be respected,” the UN mission said on Sunday.