The Afghanistan Bulletin
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
A Year Under Taliban: Repression, Fear, Hunger and Hopelessness
The past year under the Taliban has been full of repression, fear, hunger and hopelessness. In nearly every area, including human rights, governance, the economy, and security, things have changed for the worse. The Taliban regime has increasingly stepped up its crackdown on women, ethnic and religious minorities, former government officials and ANDSF members and on anyone who does not share the Taliban’s brutal ideology. Extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and other violations of fundamental freedoms by the Taliban were detailed in a new report from the UN Mission in Afghanistan. Afghanistan currently is the only country on the planet that denies women and girls their very basic rights, and as Amnesty International recently said in its report this “suffocating crackdown” on women and girls is increasing day by day.
It has been a year since teenage girls were barred from school, and women are still required to cover their bodies in public, exposing only their eyes. Similarly, the Taliban has severely suppressed independent media coverage of these issues in an effort to suppress dissent. A survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders, a global media monitor group known by its French acronym RSF, found that in a short year since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, nearly 60 percent of journalists, especially women, and close to half of all national media outlets disappeared. “Media and journalists are being subjected to iniquitous regulations that restrict media freedom and open the way to repression and persecution,” the survey said.
Associated Press Photo
A year later, the country’s economy is crumbling, millions are unemployed and face starvation. The former insurgents now in charge of Afghanistan have no knowledge or expertise to tackle the multiple crises the 40 million nation is facing. They barely know anything about managing a modern economy or the financial markets. According to the UN humanitarian chief for Afghanistan, nearly 20 million people in the country are “food insecure,” around 35 million are living in poverty, and 6.6 million are classified in the emergency level just one step from famine. Acute malnutrition and extreme poverty under the Taliban forced some families to do the unthinkable: selling of organs and selling of children in order to get money to survive.
On the security aspect, the regime has not been even able to deliver on one area that it does have expertise in, which is armed conflict and fighting. As the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State, Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) has carried out guerrilla attacks such as bombings, assassinations, and suicide attacks that the Taliban hasn't been able to counter. ISK also has waged a brutal campaign of bombings targeting Afghanistan religious and ethnic minorities, especially the Shia Hazara community. Meanwhile, there’s growing concern that Afghanistan will be exploited as a base again to launch terrorist attacks on the United States or other countries. The fact that top Al-Qaeda leader was killed in the home of No. 2 Taliban figure in downtown Kabul merely shows the close relationship between the two terrorist groups. The slaying of Ayman al-Zawahiri is yet another indication of the Taliban's unreliability and failure to live up to their commitment to not harbor Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, under the botched Doha agreement.
Afghanistan may have faded from the headlines, but history shows that turning a blind eye to it is only going to backfire. Ignoring the suffering of Afghan people, particularly Afghan women and girls, who already feel abandoned and betrayed by the international community, would also pose a moral hazard.