Afghanistan: Taliban violently disperses women’s march in Kabul demanding rights

KABUL — Taliban militants have violently dispersed a peaceful protest by a group of women demanding “bread, work, and freedom” in Kabul by firing guns into the air and beating the protesters, RFE/RL reported.

About 40 women marched in front of the Education Ministry building on August 13 before they were dispersed.

Photos and videos of the protest posted on social media show Taliban forces firing warning shots and physically assaulting the women. Some women were chased by Taliban fighters, who beat them with their rifle butts.

The Taliban also detained three foreign journalists and one Afghan worker for covering the protest, while two other local journalists were slightly wounded, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA).

Hujatullah Mujadidi, a senior member of the Kabul-based AIJA, told dpa that the foreign journalists detained were from Germany, Denmark, and Norway.

Amnesty International expressed concern about reports that the Taliban used “excessive force” to disperse the women. It said on Twitter that the women had been “peacefully protesting to demand their human rights.”

A video said to be taken of the march showed the women carrying banners and posters and marching in the street demanding the right to work and political participation.

“Justice, justice. We’re fed up with ignorance,” they chanted. Many of the protesters did not wear the required face veils.

One of the banners read “August 15 is a black day,” a reference to the day last year that the Taliban seized control.

Since seizing control, the Taliban-led government has drastically restricted the rights of women and girls. It has largely blocked girls from attending secondary schools and barred women from traveling without an accompanying male family member, forcing many to give up outside employment.

Women also must fully cover themselves in public, including their faces, ideally with the head-to-toe burqa.

The Taliban-led government has remained largely isolated internationally as a result of its hard-line Islamist policies toward women and girls.