Afghanistan: Taliban stone again, demand probe of civilian casualties

A man and a woman who allegedly had an adulterous affair were stoned to death in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz Aug. 15, according to the local governor, Mohammad Omar. The stoning was carried out in a crowded bazaar in the Taliban-controlled village of Mullah Quli, Tal Dasht-e Archi district. The Taliban have not commented on the incident. The punishment was reportedly carried out by hundreds of the victims’ neighbors and even their family members.

“We see it as a sign of a new confidence on the part of the Taliban in the application of their rules, like they did in the ’90s,” said Nader Nadery, a senior commissioner on Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission. “We do see it as a trend, they’re showing more strength in recent months, not just in attacks, but including their own way of implementing laws, arbitrary and extrajudicial killings.”

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Waheed Omar, said if the incident is confirmed it will be condemned in the strongest terms by the government. “Even in Islam this [stoning] has to be done through proper judicial systems,” he said. “The Taliban do not represent the country, they do not represent the Afghan judiciary, and they have no right to punish anyone even if it is for the right cause, which in this case it is not.” (BBC News, The Hindu, NYT, Aug. 16)

Meanwhile, NATO and the United Nations are said to be considering a Taliban proposal to set up a joint commission to investigate allegations of civilian casualties. The Taliban overture, which came in a statement posted on the organization’s website (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan—Voice of Jihad), is heating up debate in Kabul on whether to conduct any formal talks with insurgents who the UN says are now responsible for the majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s assassination campaign now kills one person a day on average.

The Taliban statement calls for the establishment of a body including members from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, UN human rights investigators, NATO and the Taliban. “The stated committee should [be] given a free hand to survey the affected areas as well as people in order to collect the precise information and the facts and figures and disseminate its findings worldwide,” the Taliban said. (The Guardian, Aug. 16)

See our last post on Afghanistan and the civilian casualties controversy.

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