Recent wave of brutalities by Taliban

By RAWA reporters, September 15,1999

The Taliban's summer offensives against the northern alliance in north Kabul triggered a parallel wave of their violence and savagery against civilians. Thousands of families from the Shamali area have been forced to leave their villages and summer crops because of severe bombardments and the Taliban's "scorched earth" policy.

 After their defeat and then a second wave of offensives in the Guldara, Kalakan, Istalif and Bagram areas, the Taliban started to blatantly burn houses and crops, and forced people to leave their villages. The Taliban received high casualties during these offensives. To terrify people into submission and capture lost areas at any price, the Taliban have committed summary executions, burned houses and crops, destroyed Karezes (irrigation systems) and have taken thousands of people in the area as hostages. The refugees from these areas live in terrible conditions facing a lack of shelter and food, with little hope of relief in the near future.

These refugee families, made up of mostly women, walked 13 hours straight to Kabul city.  They each arrived exhausted carrying no more than a basket of grapes, a pressure cooker or a few items of clothing. Most of them reported that the Taliban took their belongings. One family reported that at a checkpoint along the way, the Taliban took their scanty belongings (which included one chicken, a teapot and an oil lamp) as "war booty."

Most of the women unable to control their livestock are struggling with tears and praying for their own death. An old woman was seen lying in a bed in front of a closed shop in Sarai-Shamali bus stop, hoping for someone to give her shelter for the night. She reported that the Taliban dragged her out of her house, set the house on fire and shot her 20-year-old son in front of her. Since most of the refugees carry no money with them, they must walk another day to reach relatives within Kabul city.

These refugees told us that pregnant women went into labor along the trip due to the long walk, and delivered their babies in the shelter of a bush or tree. Most families have lost livestock, such as cows and bulls, as the women could not force the animals to move or the animals escaped. Some families have been able to sell their livestock in the city, but the majority have no money or other belongings with them. Most of these women are not with their husbands, brothers or fathers. The UN and Red Cross, contrary to media reports, have not provided help.

Although the BBC and Voice of America have reported on a new wave of "arrests" by the Taliban, these reports do not adequately reflect reality. For example, most media reports estimate the number of arrests at around 1,000, consisting mainly of refugees newly arrived in Kabul from the Shamali region. The use of terms like "arrest" give the impression of a legal procedure with a just court and a defense counselor.  But the new wave of "arrests" is more like a group of wolves attacking defenseless sheep.

One example occurred at the Haji Mir Ahmad Mosque in Kart-e-Parwan, where the Taliban waited in cars at different prayer times.  All young looking men were loaded into these cars and taken to the notorious Pul-e-Charkki Prison. In the past few weeks, most people in the city, especially the Farsi speaking population, have avoided leaving their houses as the Taliban are waiting at every street corner, mosque or public place. They ask for ID cards, and if they find someone is from Shamali region they "arrest" him and send him to Pul-e-Charkhi Prison.

This process takes place with a minimum of fuss. Members of the Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense, and the Interior Ministry are carrying out these "arrests." Taliban cars are patrolling areas of Kabul, especially Khair khan and Kart-e-parwan where most of these "arrests' are carried out. If a person is found to be from Panjsher or Shamali, his house will be raided.  Men of the house are "arrested" in front of mothers, sisters and wives, and then taken to prison.

Salim, who is from Panjesher and sells vegetables, was awoken at 6 a.m. on August 17th and taken by the Taliban. His wife was punched and kicked when she beseeched the Taliban to leave her husband alone.

Contrary to figures reported by the UN and Red Cross, which put the number of these "arrests" at around 1,000, the estimates by prisoners freed put the figure at 5 to 6 times that amount. The number of those "arrested" by the Taliban was so high that some were later transferred to Harbi Pohantoon, a military academy. Each prisoner is given one piece of bread per day. Humiliation and beatings are part of the normal prison routine.

On August 16th, a large number of women gathered around the 11th Housa (police station) in Khairkhana, asking the whereabouts of sons and husbands.  The only response they received from the heads of the Housa was "we don't know."


Some of the people that have been "arrested" are listed below: 

  • Sakhi, son of Ghulam Haidar, 25, originally from Betoot in Paghman district, was taken from his house located behind baharistan on August15th.
  • Toryalay, son of Zahir, was taken from the same place around the same time.
  • Zia Ulhaq, son of Qand Agha, originally from Panjsher, an  occupation laborer in Park Baharistan Mosque, was taken from his house on August 16th at 7 a.m..
  • Sher Ali, 25, originally from Panjsher, was taken on August 16th early in the morning while selling vegetables from his trolley.
  • Homaion, from Proje-Jadid, a student in Khalil Ulah Khalil High School.
  • Rahim Panjsheri, a baker in the United Nations bakery in Kart-e-Parwan.
  • (Name not disclosed) A student in Engineering at Kabul
  • University. He was arrested on August 16th and imprisoned in 11th Housa.  He later escaped.
  • Roh Ullah, the Managing Auditor of National Bank, was arrested for being from Panjsher. His son Tariq asked for help from the caretaker of the bank, Mulla Zaman. The Mulla declined.
  • Aziz, 35, originally from Panjsher, a resident of Macrorayan-2.
  • Del Agha, son of Haji Ghulam Darwaish, originally from Jabul Saraj, was taken from his shop in Sahar Gul Market.

  • A look at the old Russian Embassy building where many women kidnapped from Shamali regions are now imprisoned.

    The building of the embassy was semi-destroyed during Jehadi infighting and hasn't been used since. There is no electricity or running water in the building. Around 350 families, mostly women and children and a few elderly men, are crammed into the burned and broken-down rooms. These families are mainly from Farza, Kalakan, Sarai Khwaja, Istalif, Charikar, Qarabagh, Kohistan, Gulbahar and other villages that lie along the Kabul-Parwan highway.

    These women do not know the whereabouts of the males in their family. The air is filled with the cries and moans of women fearing the fate of their loved ones. The rooms are divided into Farsi-speaking and Pashto-speaking blocks. Several Taliban restrictions have been implemented, including that no one leave their room. There is no clean drinking water. Presently, dry bread is the available food. All of the families spent their first three days without food, which caused the death of a number of children.

    One aid organization has donated a blanket and a plastic carpet to each family. Since August 11th, each family has received 6 pieces of bread for lunch and dinner, and in the mornings they receive a small amount of Halwa (made from flour and sugar). A number of women have left the embassy on the pretext of visiting relatives, and have escaped to other cities such as Ghazni and Muqur. A large number of the "prisoners" are ill because of bad hygienic conditions, unclean drinking water and dirty toilets.

    An old man lying far from the women's block gave his name as Sahib Gul. "I am from Baba Qushtar. I have no idea where my wife and young granddaughters were taken. I'm afraid that something bad might have happened to them. The Taliban are enemies of the people. They burned our houses and they took our women. My granddaughters, Mariam Gul and Pari Gul, with their grandmother are lost and I am sick because of that. I don't know what to do."

    A woman transferred here from Jalalabad told us, "My name is Shah Bibi, and I am from Kalakan. I know that around 3,000 families lost their houses because of the Taliban's attack. They killed our young ones, put our old ones in Pule-Charkhi (prison) and took our women to Jalalabad and Qandahar. We were brought here from Sar Shahi camp (In Jalalabad City) on August 9th. However, many young women who were with us were taken somewhere else. From the 4th to 8th of August, because of extremely hot weather in Sar Shahi camp, around 30 children died and a number of pregnant women miscarried. I myself don't know the whereabouts of my 18-year-old daughter, Shabo, and my sons."

    Bibi Gul, another woman from Sarai Khwaja said, "I am with my daughter-in-law who just got married 20 days ago. I don't know where my young son is. I don't know where my other two children are, whether they are under the rubble of my house or if they've been taken away. It has been 3 days that we have been given 3 pieces of bread, and we don't have anything else. Taliban guards curse us, saying that because of we Farsi speakers they are being defeated in Shamali, and that we should all be killed."

    Nazebo, a young woman from Charikar, told us, "One Talib, called Mulla Sabour, hit me with his machine gun butt several times for being in the backyard without a veil, because of which my shoulders are in terrible pain. I don't have any other clothes with me and I am separated from my family. My child died a few days ago and is buried on the other side of the embassy courtyard."

    Pashtoon Gul, from Kalakan, who was pregnant when taken to the embassy said, "I gave birth as soon as they brought us here. My baby died a day later. Because there is no food and medicine, I am extremely sick and no one is helping." Her condition was very bad. When the commander of the Taliban, who was in-charge of the embassy, was told of her condition he replied, "We haven't brought you here for medical treatment. She can die so we are left in peace. They are giving birth like rabbits."

    Riza Gul, a young woman from Qara Baqh who spoke in Pashto, said, "My son was killed. I don't know where my husband is. When I resisted leaving they grabbed and threw me into a car, and later some other women and I were beaten. My back was kicked, because of which I started bleeding and I am still bleeding very badly.  There is no doctor or anything else that I can treat myself with." Another woman sitting beside her said, "We are the Taliban's enemy. I told her problem to the guard, but he swore at me and said, 'We can't look after you...'"

    Faqir Mohammed, who is from Ghund Aab village in Istalif, said, "Taliban treated us like animals. Despite my white beard, they beat me very harshly, because of which I got ill. I don't know where my sons are. Our women were thrown into cars and were taken away. I don't know where they are." He wept and said, "We are victims through no fault of ourselves."

    Khadija and her 5 children (2 sons ages 2 and 7, and 3 daughters ages 3, 10 and 12) were put in a Datsun pickup by some Punjabis. When she asked where she was being taken and was told of her fate, she threw herself out of the car and died immediately. Her children, who witnessed the incident, were taken to Jalalabad. Her 12-year-old daughter, Nadima, who was later brought to the embassy, told the story to women of the block.

    Feroza, a 12-year-old girl from Sanj Dara, was hit by shrapnel near her eye and is severely injured.  She groans from pain and hunger. She has lost everyone in her family. The Taliban guards have told her if she makes much noise they will leave her in the streets to become lost.

    Roshan Gul, a young woman from Shakar Dara, was pregnant and gave birth in the car while being taken to Jalalabad. She and her newborn baby died in the car a few hours later. Her mother-in-law and two sons were brought to the embassy.

    So far two youngsters, among those who are without their mothers, have fallen to their deaths from the third-story block.

    Pakistani forces had an upper hand in the forced migration of families and the kidnapping of girls and women. Those incidents apparently caused some bloody clashes between some Qandahari Taliban and Pakistan Taliban. The Eastern council has expressed dissatisfaction in the sending of women to Jalalabad, as well as the returning of women to Kabul.

    Persian version
    Photos of forced displacement of people by Taliban

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