Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday said that Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have been detaining and torturing civilians in northern Panjshir province for allegedly supporting an armed opposition group.
Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia Director at HRW, said that Taliban forces in Panjshir province have quickly resorted to beating civilians in their response to fighting against the opposition National Resistance Front (NRF).
“The Taliban’s long-standing failure to punish those responsible for serious abuses in their ranks puts more civilians at risk,” Gossman said.
Since mid-May 2022, fighting has escalated in the Panjshir province as NRF forces have attacked Taliban units and checkpoints.
“The Taliban have responded by deploying to the province thousands of fighters, who have carried out search operations targeting communities they allege are supporting the NRF. During search operations in other provinces, Taliban forces have committed summary executions and enforced disappearance of captured fighters and other detainees, which are war crimes,” HRW said in a statement.
Taliban forces detained about 80 residents in early June in Panjshir’s Khenj district and beat them to compel them to provide information about the NRF.
“After several days, the Taliban released 70, but have continued to hold 10 people whose relatives they accuse of being members of the group, a form of collective punishment,” the statement reads.
Former detainees said that there are nearly 100 other people held in Khenj district jail for their alleged links to the NRF. “None had access to their families or lawyers. Others have been held in informal detention facilities,” HRW said.
“Whereabouts of some men taken into Taliban custody in Panjshir province have not been revealed, and some with suspected links to the NRF have been killed,” HRW added.
The HRW statement said that in some places the bodies of those killed have been “displayed as an apparent warning to others.”
Gossman said this is just the latest example of Taliban abuses during fighting in the region 10 months after the Taliban took power.
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