The Taliban will strengthen dialogue with the West when they visit Norway. At the same time, several women have been assaulted and arrested in Afghanistan in recent days.
The Taliban’s delegation left Kabul on Saturday, and when it lands in Oslo on Saturday, it has one important goal in mind: world community recognition.
They come to Norway to participate in talks with a number of actors. Several countries and members of Afghan civil society will be present.
But some immediate recognition of the new regime is probably a long way off for Western governments. In recent weeks, the Taliban have been accused of a number of human rights violations at home.
Arrested woman activist
Among other things, several women activists have been arrested and abducted.
On Wednesday, the Taliban stormed an apartment in Kabul and arrested women activist Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and her three sisters. It tells an anonymous eyewitness to the news agency AP.
According to the eyewitness, the operation was carried out by ten armed men who claimed to be from the Taliban’s security department.
A video of Paryani appeared on social media shortly before the abduction. “Help, please, the Taliban have come to our home …” she shouts in fright in the video. Aps photos from the crime scene on Thursday morning show a dented metal door into the woman’s apartment.
Demonstrations in Kabul
Paryani belongs to a human rights group known as the Seekers of Justice. Along with 25 other women, she is said to have taken part in a protest in Kabul against the Taliban regime last Sunday. Here they called for equality and protested against the order to cover up in public. The protesters are said to have set fire to a white burqa. The Taliban responded with tear gas.
A spokesman for the Taliban-controlled intelligence service, Khalid Hamraz, will neither confirm nor deny the arrest. On Twitter, however, he writes that “insulting the religious and national values of the Afghan people will no longer be tolerated”.
Hamraz further accused human rights activists of blackmailing the Taliban in an attempt to secure asylum in the West.
Clear message to Norway
Several women have also been reported missing in the last six months. Among them is Allia Azisi. She is the head of the women’s prison in Herat, Afghanistan’s third largest city. On Friday, Amnesty called for a statement Taliban to indicate the location of Azizis. She was last seen on October 2, 2021.
Zaman Sultani, a collaborator with Amnesty in Southeast Asia, believes Azizi’s disappearance must be seen in the context of a series of arrests of former government members, journalists and critics of the regime after the Taliban came to power.
Human Rights Watch’s December report claims that the Taliban have killed or abducted more than 100 former members of the provincial police and intelligence service without trial.
On Twitter, Horia Mosadiq, a well-known female human rights activist, calls on Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to put pressure on the Taliban to improve the situation of journalists and activists in Afghanistan.
On Friday afternoon, several Norwegian-Afghans also gathered outside the Storting to demonstrate against the Taliban’s visit to Norway. They demand that Norway extradite Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to the Human Rights Court in The Hague.
– Norway can not negotiate with the Taliban. The Taliban is not to be trusted. They say they are not doing anything wrong, but they are killing and persecuting people in Afghanistan, several of the protesters told Aftenposten.
Does not legitimize the Taliban
The message from Norway’s Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt (Labor Party) is clear:
– This is not a legitimation or recognition of the Taliban. But we must talk to those who in practice govern the country today. We can not let the political situation lead to an even worse humanitarian catastrophe, she says to Aftenposten.
The Taliban delegation is led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. In a interview with the news agency AP in December, he promised better conditions for girls and women in the country than under the previous regime.
The right to work and education was emphasized. But do the extreme Islamists really keep their promises?
Afghan women were brutally oppressed during the Taliban’s previous term (1996–2001). Girls were then denied access to work and education.
After the Taliban took power last year, girls have been denied schooling in several Afghan provinces. Several female social workers have also been asked to stay at home.
The Taliban, for their part, have argued that they are in a period of transition, and that they need time to facilitate gender-segregated arrangements in schools and workplaces. The Taliban claim the girls will be allowed to start school in March.
However, in an interview with the AP news agency, Foreign Minister Muttaqi said that the new regime is committed to providing women with jobs and education. He pointed out, among other things, that girls are allowed to complete step twelve in the school race in ten of the country’s 34 provinces. In addition, he pointed out that private schools and universities are allowed to operate freely.
“With each passing day, we gain more experience and constantly make new progress,” he emphasized to AP.
In a statement on Monday, however, 36 experts expressed the UN’s concerns about developments in the country:
“We are deeply concerned about the persistent and systematic efforts to exclude women from the social, economic, political, spheres of Afghan society,” the statement said.
This is the first time that the extreme Islamists have visited a western country since they took power in Afghanistan on 15 August 2021.