The Times of India, August 18, 2000

Taliban blamed for 'world's worst' rights situation

GENEVA (AP) - Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban rulers have created the world's worst human rights situation, the representative of an Afghan women's organization said Thursday.

Sehar Saba, in Geneva to address the U.N. Subcommission on Human Rights, said the United Nations should send peacekeepers into Afghanistan and impose sanctions on countries that support the Taliban.

The problem goes beyond the Taliban's treatment of women, denying them the right to work or even move around freely, said Saba, of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

"The tragedy is that our people are dying. They can't find a piece of bread," Saba said.

The strict Islamic Taliban, which has controlled much of Afghanistan since 1996, also bars girls from attending school. Women must wear the all-encompassing burqa and are allowed to travel outside their home only in company of a male relative.

On Wednesday, the Taliban ordered the United Nations to shut down bakeries operated by widows and told the women to stay at home.

Saba said the current U.N. sanctions on Afghanistan, imposed last November because of the refusal to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, were not making a difference.

"If they really want to help, they should impose sanctions on those countries that are supporting the Taliban," Saba said.

The Taliban have been recognized only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

"Until we cut off the money and guns, the foreign financial and military support, then we can't think about real peace or security in Afghanistan," said Saba.

The United Nations also should send a peacekeeping force into Afghanistan "to pave the way for government," she said. -AP

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