"Taliban a criminal gang", Canadian Foreign Minister

Reuters, April 8 and BBC News, April 7, 2000

Canada has said it will donate three-hundred thousand dollars to assist United Nations-supported efforts to promote womens rights in Afghanistan.

Describing the Taleban Islamic militia in Afghanistan as a criminal gang posturing as a government, the Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, told the United Nations Security Council that if the Taleban wanted international acceptance it must respect women's rights.

Axworthy said the Taleban claimed to be a bona fide government but behaved like a criminal gang, harboring international terrorists and allowing the country to become the world's largest exporter of illegal opiates.

The acceptance they crave must be earned through national reconciliation, the formation of a broad-based and representative government, the end of tolerance for terrorism and drug trafficking and, above all through respect for human rights, including women's human rights, he said.

The group, he said, has carried out a systematic pattern of violation of the human rights of half the population -- women and girls -- a violation that the Taleban misrepresents as having religious foundation.

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