Within hours of the capture of the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last month, Taliban militants went door-to-door and hunted down not only those accused of working with security forces, but also women’s rights lawyers and journalists.
Government forces withdrew much of the city three days later, and on Monday the Taliban announced the withdrawal of their last fighters. But the violence of the Taliban in the late 1990s is reminiscent of Islamic rule and what awaits the country if it returns to power.
In announcing the capture of the city on September 28, the Taliban declared themselves liberators and promised to protect civilians and property. But residents said the rebels were immediately enraged, looted shops and killed anyone standing in their way.
Shah Bibi fled to Kabul with her six children after militants entered a neighboring house and shot dead five boys. Bodies are lying everywhere, “she said. Women’s rights lawyers and journalists say they have been isolated and many have fled the city.
Fouzia, the head of a local organization dedicated to women’s health, education and rights, said the Taliban gunmen on motorcycles hid in her basement until they came home in search of her. “The chances of being killed are not the biggest fear, it is rape,” he said.
When gunmen tried to knock on the door, her husband scolded her for not leaving, and soon she climbed over the back fence and eventually fled to Kabul. During the Taliban’s regime of 1996-2001, women were banned from work and school, and all were allowed to wear the burqa and only one male relative could leave the house. The Taliban stoned prostitutes, cut off the hands of thieves and provided violent and concise justice for violating the strict version of Islamic law.
“The Taliban do not believe in the values of humanity,” said Malali Rustami, a rights lawyer. “They have no respect for humanitarian and health workers, NGOs, journalists, female activists.