JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the Taliban takeover. Here, a Staff Correspondent for JURIST in Kabul offers observations on the Taliban’s targeting of perceived or potential opponents in Afghanistan who publicly object to their policies, who were associated with the previous government, or who worked with foreign forces prior to the Taliban takeover. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding his name and institutional affiliation. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
The Taliban announced that there would be no revenge and no one would be targeted – even those who worked with foreign forces in Afghanistan – but reality reports otherwise. There is a gap between what they said and what they are actually doing.
Many individuals have reported that they have been threatened by the Taliban since they seized power in August in Afghanistan. But the Taliban themselves have not commented on any incident reported by the media. Many others fear to report any warnings from the Taliban to the media.
It’s mostly social activists, former military and government officials, CSOs, and traders who have been targeted, warned, and even affected by the Taliban. In particular, former government officials in Panjshir, Mazar, and Samangan provinces have been targeted, leading to the death of one in Samangan province. A few weeks ago the Taliban even went farther and stated some specific individuals – especially those who worked with the foreign forces – should give themselves up to be prosecuted or they will prosecute their family members if they find them. Anyone on the Taliban’s blacklist is in great danger.
The Taliban are using different techniques in targeting people. They have issued warning letters to some former government officials stating that if they do not give themselves to them then their families would be arrested. Several officials of the the central bank received warning letters in the last three weeks. They all received written warning letters signed and stamped by the Taliban. One of the warning letters shared with me said “You should have stopped working with a slave government under control of Americans; we shall punish you so others take a lesson.” Fortunately, the target of this letter is already out of the country. In another incident from the central bank, the Taliban went to check the former Chief of Staff of the central bank who was said to have worked with the ex-governor of the bank too closely. However, they could not find him.
The Taliban appear to have monitored government officials closely before they seized power in August. Most of the people who got killed by them were government officials. I myself lost three friends in a car bombing several months ago.
Furthermore, the Taliban have beaten up journalists, CSOs who demonstrated in different areas and are controlling the media as well. Now, it seems that anyone stands up against them in any way will be under great risk.
The Taliban have many complexities within their group as well. They are not one group. Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda, and many other militants assisted the Taliban throughout the last two decades. Each and every one of these groups follows their own agenda and policy at the moment.
Haqqani network are the most dangerous and extremist group within the Taliban. They have said that anyone who stood against them during the past 20 years should be prosecuted by the Taliban. Therefore, when it comes to targets and threats every one of the groups listed above has their own agenda – they look at people as their own enemies. They do not hold the same opinions. They do not follow one single policy.