No one knows the fate of two female activists and four male colleagues arrested by the Taliban in the past two weeks, seven female activists and protesters in Kabul tell Zan Times.
In the most high profile case, Zarifa Yaqoubi, a prominent women’s rights activist, and four male colleagues were arrested by the Taliban on November 3 during a press conference in Kabul.
A week later, another female activist named Farhat Popalzai was arrested by the Taliban, two female activists tell Zan Times, though they aren’t sure exactly how she was arrested or where she is being detained. Popalzai was involved in the Women’s Spontaneous Movement, which held protests in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban.
The lack of any concrete information regarding the six arrested activists is worrying fellow campaigners. A source who is in contact with Yaqoubi’s family tells Zan Times that the Taliban had promised to release Zarifa Yaqoubi. The source, who asked not to be identified, says that the Taliban contacted Yaqoubi’s family after her arrest and said that a close family member could see her. Zarifa Yaqoubi’s sister went to the detention centre where the activist was being held but, after spending three nights there, she was not allowed to meet her sister.
“At first, the Taliban said that they would release Zarifa on bail, but then they denied their own words and said that there is no need for a bail and we should investigate,” adds this source. What little information that her family has received about Zarifa Yaqoubi shows that her mental and emotional condition is not good, the source tells Zan Times.
Worryingly for the protesters and their families is what appears to be an even harsher attitude by the Taliban in regard to anyone deemed “seditionists.” On Sunday, November 13, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced in a tweet that Mullah Hibatullah, the supreme leader of the Taliban, held a a meeting with the judges, in which he asked them to “carefully investigate cases of thieves, kidnappers and seditionists” and implement “hudud and qisas” [sharia punishments.] as punishment. The Taliban leader called his order a command of sharia, which is “obligatory” and must be implemented. The Taliban spokesperson has not clarified whom they call “seditionists.”
On November 12, Amnesty International sounded an alarm on social media to the arrests. “Amnesty International calls on the international community to not turn a blind on the systematic suffering of women and rights under the Taliban rule,” stated the human rights organization, pointing out that “the Taliban have unlawfully arrested, detained and tortured women peaceful posters including several women activists arrested just days previously.”