Watching the Shadows
Guantanamo

Afghan detainee released from Guantánamo

The US Department of Defense announced the release of Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan national, who had been held for 15 years without charge at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. Gul was incarcerated at Guantánamo in 2007 on accusations of being a member of al-Qaeda and Hezb-e-Islami (HIA), an insurgent group that fought against the US in Afghanistan. HIA signed a peace agreement with the US-backed Afghan government in 2016. Human rights organization Reprieve subsequently filed a habeas corpus petition demanding Gul’s release. (Photo: Gino Reyes/Wikimedia Commons)

Planet Watch
drc displaced

UN: record 100 million people displaced worldwide

According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide rose to 90 million by the end of 2021, propelled by new waves of violence or protracted conflict in countries including Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Burma, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2022, the war in Ukraine has displaced 8 million within the country and forced some 6 million to flee the country as refugees. This has pushed the total displaced to over 100 million for the first time. (Photo: Eskinder Debebe/UN News)

Afghanistan
Chadari

Afghanistan: Taliban diktat imposes burqa

At a press conference in Kabul, the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue & Prevention of Vice released a statement from the Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, stating that women outside the home must cover their faces. The all-encompassing blue burqa, or chadari, which became a global symbol of the Taliban’s previous extremist rule from 1996 to 2001, was proposed as a suitable covering. The text of the decree calls such covering “obligatory” for all “mature and noble” women. The mandate is imposed “in order to avoid provocation when meeting men who are not mahram,” or immediate family. Tellingly, the order does not impose penalties on women themselves but on their male guardians. The fathers and husbands of women accused of going barefaced are to be summoned and, on repeat offenses, fired from government jobs or imprisoned. (Photo: Khaama Press)

Afghanistan
kunar

Pipeline plans threatened by Af-Pak border clashes

Afghanistan authorities say some 60 civilians, including five children, were killed as Pakistan launched air-strikes across the border on Khost and Kunar provinces. The strikes follow a series of attacks on security forces by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan’s borderlands. The escalation was harshly condemned both by the Taliban regime and the Afghan permanent mission in the United Nations—the loyalty of which remains unclear more than six months after the Taliban takeover. The new tensions come a week after top diplomats from China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and other regional states met for a summit in China’s Anhui province on reviving the long-stalled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, which would deliver Central Asian gas to world markets through Afghan territory. (Photo via Khaama Press)

Afghanistan
Fort Lee

Afghan refugees lack path to citizenship: report

Some 36,400 Afghan refugees lack a clear path to US citizenship or permanent residency, according to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The report surveys the immigration status of more than 76,000 Afghan refugees now under the supervision of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), a DHS-coordinated program aimed at resettling Afghans within the United States. OAW, initiated last August, is the domestic counterpart to Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), the military effort to evacuate select Afghan citizens after their country fell to the Taliban that month. Those who worked with the US government or NATO in Afghanistan are eligible for Special Immigration Visas (SIVs), but their immediate and extended family members frequently are not. (Photo of evacuees arriving at Fort Lee, Va., via Homeland Security Today)

Afghanistan
afghanwomen

Afghanistan: Taliban repress women’s protest

Taliban fighters—now acting as the security forces of the self-declared “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”—used tear-gas to break up a protest by women in Kabul, called under the banner of “Rights and Freedom Now.” The small demonstration in the vicinity of Kabul University especially called attention to two incidents in recent days—the detention of three women activists at a protest in the northern city of Balkh, in Mazar province, who have yet to be released; and the slaying of two young women of the Hazara ethnic minority by Taliban gunmen at a checkpoint in Kabul. In the continuing protests since the Taliban seizure of power, women have been in the vanguard. (Photo: TOLO News)

Afghanistan
afghanistan

Afghanistan: Taliban kill, ‘disappear’ ex-officials

Taliban forces in Afghanistan have summarily executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in just four provinces since taking over the country in August, despite a proclaimed amnesty, Human Rights Watch charges. The report, ‘No Forgiveness for People Like You’—Executions and Enforced Disappearances in Afghanistan under the Taliban, documents the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)—military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and militia—who had surrendered or were apprehended by Taliban forces. HRW gathered credible information on more than 100 killings from Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces alone. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Afghanistan
Afghan-Women

Afghan women protest barring of girls from schools

A group of women took to the streets of Kabul to protest the continued barring of girls from schools since the Taliban takeover, and accused the international community of being silent about what is going on in Afghanistan. The women gathered at the gates of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), demanding an audience with the agency’s head Deborah Lyons and calling UNAMA’s silence on the situation for women and girls in the country “shameful.” The women chanted “right to education, right to work, are fundamental rights of women” and “history will be ashamed of the silence of the UN.” (Photo: Khaama)

Afghanistan
tajikistan

Russia-led bloc in war games on Afghan border

Some 5,000 troops from member states of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) initiated military maneuvers code-named “Echelon-2021” in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan. More than half of the troops involved are Russian. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov, head of the CSTO joint staff, said in a statement: “We pay special attention to the Central Asian region. The situation around the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remains the main source of instability.” China is meanwhile said to have taken over an old Soviet outpost in Tajikistan near the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan’s eastern “panhandle,” where the People’s Liberation Army is conducting joint drills with Tajik forces and monitoring the situation on the border. (Map: CIA via PCL Map Collection)

Afghanistan
hazara massacres

Afghanistan: massacre and cleansing of Hazaras —already

The Shi’ite Hazara people of Afghanistan were targeted for genocide by the Taliban when the fundamentalist militant group was last in power, and Amnesty International now reports that new massacres targeting the ethnicity have already started. Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, including a 17-year-old girl, in Daykundi province after members of the security forces of the former government surrendered in August, the Amnesty investigation revealed. Since then, local Hazaras have been forced to flee the area. Residents of Daykundi said that the Taliban ordered them to leave, sometimes giving them only three or four days to pack up and go. Then, after families are gone, Taliban fighters set fire to their homes or blew them up. Many have taken a precarious refuge in Kabul. (Map: Amnesty International)

Afghanistan
afghan women

Taliban ‘stamping out human rights’ in Afghanistan

The Taliban are steadily “dismantling the human rights gains of the last 20 years,” said Amnesty International in a new briefing issued jointly with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), documenting the militant group’s wide-ranging crackdown since their seizure of Kabul little more than five weeks ago. Contrary to the Taliban’s repeated claims that they will respect the rights of Afghans, the briefing, entitled “Afghanistan’s Fall Into the Hands of the Taliban,” details a litany of human rights abuses including targeted killings of civilians and surrendered soldiers, and the blockading of humanitarian supplies into the Panjshir Valley, which constitute crimes under international law. Restrictions have also been re-imposed on women, freedom of expression and civil society. (Photo: Khaama)

Afghanistan
Kandahar

Afghan protests continue despite repression

Protests broke out in the traditional Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, as the city’s new administrators issued an order that the families of soldiers in the vanquished Afghan army vacate a military-owned housing complex where they had been living for years. In a demonstration led by women, thousands took to the streets and marched on the provincial governor’s house to protest the eviction order. The some 3,000 families, many of whom have lived in the complex for 20 years, were given three days to vacate. The demonstration came days after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement condemning the Taliban’s mounting violence against peaceful protestors in Afghanistan. (Photo: Khaama)