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‘Hit her, hit her’” The Taliban are arbitrarily arresting more civil activists and journalists

By Freshta Ghani 

On Sunday, August 20, eight women from the Afghanistan’s Women’s Union for Solidarity and Protest were going to hold a protest over the closure of girls’ schools in the Khair Khana area of Kabul regarding the closure of girls’ schools. But they were arrested by armed Taliban personnel before that demonstration could occur. In a short 73-second video posted to social media (and sent to Zan Times), which is believed to show the arrests, two armed Taliban militants are seen entering a house and then leaving with several women. “That one is to be arrested,” says one of the men in the video, while pointing to a woman. In the final few seconds of the video, one woman is heard shouting, “Don’t hit, don’t hit” while a Taliban militant says, “Hit her, hit her.”  

The women were detained by the Taliban for eight hours and then released on bail, says Zahra Mohammadi, leader of Afghanistan’s Women’s Union for Solidarity and Protest. “The women were taken to prison with violence, slapping, and kicking and were not in a suitable mental state. After being released, even one of these women told me in a phone call that she is nauseous due to the fear and horror she has experienced.” She asks that their names not be published for their safety.  

Zahra  Mohammadi says that the women are not allowed to talk to the media about their situation: “They are obliged to do this for the security of their family members. Some of them have changed their locations to avoid being identified.” 

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A member of the organization who wasn’t involved in the protest tells Zan Times that the women coordinated their plan on WhatsApp the night before it was scheduled to occur. That source also says that they knew the danger. “One of these women was already at great risk. We said in the group that she should change her house. She changed her house several times, but eventually one of the women in the group reported her to the Taliban,” the member explains.  

The source says that one of the detained women was pregnant and is not faring well due to the shock she experienced, while another, who was already seriously ill, is now in even worse condition. Their lives have been in turmoil since the Taliban returned to power – at least six of the women protesters had jobs before August 2021.  

Though there have been numerous posts on social media regarding the arrest of the women protesters, Khaled Zadran, the Taliban spokesperson for the Kabul security districts, took to Twitter to say that Taliban fighters hadn’t not carried out any operations involving the arrest of women in Chaharrah-e Khairkhana area of Kabul recently.  

It isn’t just civil activists who are being detained by the Taliban. Independent sources say that the number of arbitrary arrests of journalists by the Taliban has increased significantly in the past month. As of late August, at least nine journalists have been arrested by the Taliban, according to According to reports from the Afghanistan Journalists Center:  

  • Ramin Rasouli, a freelance reporter, was detained in late July;  
  • Sayed Wahdatullah Abdali, a reporter from the state news agency Bakhtar, was arrested on August 6 in the Khwaja Mir district;  
  • Fakir Mohammad Fakirzi and Jan Agha Sahib, reporters from Radio Killid, were detained on August 10 in the city of Jalalabad;  
  • Haseeb Hassas, a reporter for Salam Watandar Radio, was detained on August 10 in Kunduz province;  
  • Habibullah Sarab, a reporter for Ariana News TV, was detained on August 10 in the city of Gardez in Paktia province;  
  • Attaullah Umar, a reporter for Tolo News, and freelance reporters Wahid al-Rahman Afghanmal and Shamsullah Omari, were detained on August 12 in Kandahar province; and  
  • Mohammad Hussein Welayati, an Iranian reporter, photographer, and editor for Tasnim news agency of Iran, was detained on August 19.  

So far, only three have been released: Afghanmal, who was released one day after being detained; Omari, who was freed on August 23; and Welayati, who was handed over to the Iranian embassy after a week of detention. There is no information regarding the fate of the remaining reporters. 

Hakim Hassas, the brother of Haseeb Hassas, a local reporter in Kunduz province who was detained on August 10, says his brother worked with three local media outlets: Salam Watandar, Radio Kunduz, and Uranus TV, and that he had ID cards for those media outlets and was not in contact with any foreign media. “My brother would see the conditions and prepare reports and news. He has never worked against the regime. My brother was always in touch with local officials,” he says. “I don’t know why he has been arrested?” 

Hakim Hassas says his brother is the breadwinner for an eight-member family, and to date, none of his family have been allowed to see him in detention.  

Some journalists have been held by the Taliban for a long time without trial. Morteza Behboudi, a naturalized French reporter who was born in Afghanistan has been detained since January 7, 2022, while Nasrat Mahdi, a reporter from Amَu TV has been held since March 12, 2023, and Aminullah Aalami, the editor of Momtaz Radio in Faryab, was taken into detention on  Junly 22, 2023. 

Alexandra Mostovaja, the wife of Morteza Behboudi, says in an interview with Zan Times in August 2023 that she has received no accurate news about her husband: “I had said in the past that Morteza might be released soon, but now I can’t say anything, I just hope he will be freed.” 

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