Taliban accused of ‘carrying out widespread atrocities’ as new Afghan rulers forced to deny one of top leaders killed in shootout



The Taliban have already broken their promises to safeguard women and protect human rights, and the international community must hold them to account, the outgoing government’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva has said.

The Taliban have vowed to respect women’s rights but women’s rights are disappearing from the landscape,” Nasir Ahmad Andisha, who remains accredited at U.N. bodies despite the collapse of the government he represents, told the Human Rights Council.

He accused the Taliban of carrying out “widespread atrocities” in the Panjshir valley, the last major part of the country to hold out against them, and said they were conducting targeted killings and extrajudicial executions, including of young boys.

The Taliban’s appointment of a new interim government “undermines Afghanistan’s national unity political and social diversity”, he said. The cabinet is made up entirely of men and overwhelmingly members of the Pashtun ethnic group that forms the Taliban’s main base of support but accounts for less than half of Afghanistan’s population.

“At this crucial moment the world cannot remain silent,” he said. “The people of Afghanistan need action from the international community more than ever.”

The Taliban have denied carrying out abuses in Panjshir. They say they are supporting women’s rights within a Muslim context, and that the new interim government will consult the population on an inclusive future permanent system.

Andisha called for the Council to create a fact-finding mission to monitor Taliban actions – an initiative that is backed by Western countries but which diplomats say is opposed by some Asian states.

On Monday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet rebuked the Taliban for contradicting public promises on rights, including by ordering women to stay at home, blocking teenage girls from school and holding searches for former foes. 

Meanwhile, the Taliban have denied that one of their top leaders has been killed in a shootout with rivals, following rumours about internal splits in the movement nearly a month after its lightning victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Sulail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, former head of the Taliban political office who was named deputy prime minister last week, issued a voice message rejecting claims he had been killed or injured in a clash.

“He says it is lies and totally baseless,” Shaheen said in a message on Twitter.

The Taliban also released video footage purportedly showing Baradar at meetings in the southern city of Kandahar. 

The denials follow days of rumours that supporters of Baradar had clashed with those of Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network that is based near the border with Pakistan and was blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war.

The rumours follow speculation over possible rivalries between military commanders like Haqqani and leaders from the political office in Doha like Baradar, who led diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement with the United States.

The Taliban have repeatedly denied the speculation over internal divisions.

Baradar, once seen as the likely head of a Taliban government, had not been seen in public for some time and was not part of the ministerial delegation which met Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday.

The movement’s supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has also not been seen in public since the Taliban seized Kabul on Aug. 15, although he issued a public statement when the new government was formed last week.

Speculation over Taliban leaders has been fed by the circumstances surrounding the death of the movement’s founder, Mullah Omar, which was only made public in 2015 two years after it happened, setting off bitter recriminations among the leadership. 



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