Taliban reject UN report on violation of women's rights

UN report flays Taliban rights violations against women in Afghanistan
AFP, March 9, 2000

GENEVA, March 9 (AFP) - A UN report accused the radical Islamic regime in Afghanistan Thursday of violating women's rights with "unabated severity," including mass abductions and forced prostitution.

The report cited testimony from refugees about the large-scale abduction of women and girls by militia of the ruling Taliban movement during fighting last year in the northern and central parts of the country.

UN rapporteur Kamal Hossain provided testimony about ethnic Hazara and Tajik women being rounded up in trucks and taken from the regions of Mazar-e-Sharif, Pol-e-Khomri and Shamali to neighbouring Pakistan and the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

"Many suspect that women and girls end up forced into prostitution," his report said, adding that "women have been killed and maimed trying to escape from these trucks."

Women from the Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Shamali regions also gave accounts of forced marriages to Taliban members, it said.

"When families refuse they take the women and girls away by force," it said, adding that many families in Shamali had sent their daughters away to avoid such a fate.

The Taliban militia, committed to a radical fundamentalist form of Islam, swept to power nearly four years ago and now controls most of Afghanistan, although fighting against rival movements continues in parts of the country.

Since coming to power, the Taliban has barred women from attending schools or working outside the home. Women can only appear in public hidden in head-to-toe robes.

Routinely targetted by the world community for abusing women's rights, the Taliban on Wednesday marked International Women's Day for the first time, bringing around 700 women to a Kabul women's hospital in buses with dark curtains drawn.

But the UN report insisted the Taliban continued to enforce its severe edicts against women's participation in public life "with unabated severity."

It said the regime continued to deny women access to education, health and employment and quoted refugees relating stories "of the abduction of women, rape, infliction of the punishment of stoning, lashing and other forms of inhuman punishment."

The report by Hossain, who conducted several visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was based on a survey of internally displaced Afghans and refugees who left the country between the end of 1998 and third quarter of 1999.

The report was compiled in January and will be presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights during meetings beginning on March 20.

Hossain gave evidence that non-Afghans, including Pakistanis and Arabs, who are fighting alongside the Taliban, are also involved in the rights violations against women and ethnic minorities.

Fighting in Afghanistan intensified last year in the central highlands particularly in Bamyan and in the Shamali Plains north of Kabul.

Hossain related evidence of summary executions of non-combatants by Taliban forces, arbitrary detentions and forced labour.

"All these practices constitute grave human rights violations," he said.

"The actions, reportedly carried out by Taliban forces who were engaged in military operations, ran directly counter to assurances publicly given by the Taliban leadership with regard to the rights of the civilian populations," the report said.

Taliban reject UN report on violation of women's rights
The News International, March 13, 2000
By Rahimullah Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: Afghanistan Foreign Minister Mulla Wakil Ahmad Mutawwakil on Sunday rejected a United Nations (UN) report that accused Afghanistan's ruling Taliban of violating women's rights with unabated severity. Speaking from Kandahar, southwestern Afghanistan, he questioned the methods used to arrive at such conclusions. He described the UN rapporteur Kamal Hossain, who compiled the report, as "an ignorant and incompetent man who is working solely for money."

Mutawwakil said human rights issue had been turned into a business by the people like Kamal Hossain. "This man hasn't taken the trouble to verify facts, seek Taliban version regarding allegations against them, and check his information before making his report public," alleged the Afghan foreign minister.

Mutawwakil claimed Kamal Hossain was biased toward Taliban. "He lacks experience to tackle human rights issues and has fallen prey to propaganda against the Taliban by their opponents. Where is the proof that Taliban have abducted women or forced them into prostitution. It is an irresponsible statement and the UN has lost all credibility by publicising such baseless reports."

Kamal Hossain, a former foreign minister of Bangladesh, compiled his report following visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The report is based on a survey of internally displaced Afghans and refugees who left the country during 1998-99.

The report was compiled in January this year and would be presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights during meetings beginning on March 20. The report accused Taliban of enforcing their severe edicts against women's participation in public life. It said they continued to deny women's access to education, health and employment. However, Mutawwakil rejected the findings of the report and instead blamed Kamal Hossain for believing in hearsay and failing to do a proper job as the UN rapporteur on human rights.

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