Afghan civil society suffocated behind closed doors

Par Ghazal Golshiri

Posted today at 12h00

In the first weeks after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, on August 15, women took to the streets of major cities to protest the misogynist laws of the country’s new rulers. On October 26, in Kabul, when a few dozen Afghan women gathered, this time they were very quickly surrounded by Taliban forces. “As if they knew the time and place of the demonstration, recalls poet and women’s rights activist Hoda Khamosh, met at her home in Kabul. They launched us: If you raise your voice, we’ll shoot you! Then they took out a list and started reading our names, with our specific addresses. I was ninth on the list. The Taliban told us: We will kill you, but also your families! How did they get all this information? That’s when we really got scared. “

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Since then, other incidents have prevented women’s rights activists from taking to the streets. On November 5, the bullet-riddled bodies of four activists, all from the northern town of Mazar-e Charif, were found in a pit. One of the victims, Forouzan Safi, was very active in the protests against the Taliban in that city. According to her friends who prefer to remain anonymous, this 29-year-old Afghan woman and the three other women – whose families do not want to reveal the identity – were contacted by an organization active in the defense of human rights which had given them an appointment. in preparation for their evacuation from Afghanistan.

Forouzan Safi then left his house with his diplomas and his passport. A few days later, her face having been disfigured by bullets, she was identified by the clothes she was wearing. The Taliban have announced the arrest of two suspects who allegedly confessed to luring the women into a house. But it is not clear whether the suspects admitted to the murders. The case was sent to justice, a Taliban spokesman assured.

Disappearances and arrests

However, for Hoda Khamosh and her friends, there is no doubt: the Taliban themselves are behind these murders. On November 11, seated in a room in the poet’s tiny apartment, located in a very modest building in western Kabul, a dozen of these activists spoke only of the disappearances or arrests of members of civil society and intimidations they themselves have suffered. “Yesterday the Taliban arrested three activists, men and women. Today, four others have been arrested ”, explains one of the women. “Farid Silani, a civil society activist who fought against forced marriages, was arrested in his office yesterday. Since then, his cell phone has been switched off ”, start another.

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Afghan civil society suffocated behind closed doors