Human Rights Watch dismayed by mounting Taliban revenge killings

Edited By: Moohita Kaur Garg WION Web Team
Kandahar, Afghanistan Published: Jul 31, 2021, 09:54 PM(IST)

Taliban fighters (file photo). Photograph:( Twitter )

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The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the Taliban's retaliatory actions noting that they had pledged not to harm Afghan government employees or those assisting the US or NATO troops

As Taliban insurgents make gains in Afghanistan and security forces struggle to contain them, an international human rights monitor accused the Taliban insurgency there, of executing suspected government officials and security personnel, and sometimes even their family members.

US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the Taliban's retaliatory actions in a statement, noting that the group had pledged they would not harm Afghan government employees or those assisting the United States and NATO troops.

The insurgent group has denied the allegations.

HRW reports that among recent executions was one committed by the Taliban in southern Kandahar province earlier this month, Nazar Mohammad a.k.a Khasha Zwan a popular Kandahari comedian. 

According to reports, the slain man who worked with the Afghan police had posted routines on TikTok that included songs and jokes. He was beaten and shot to death by Taliban fighters on July 22, 2021.

Khasha Zwan was apparently executed by Taliban forces because he made fun of Taliban leaders, said Human Rights Watch's, Patrica Gossman.

Gossman alleged that his murder, along with other recent abuses, demonstrates the Taliban's willingness to brutally crush even the mildest of criticism or objection.

The Taliban didn't admit to killing Khasha Zwan until a video appeared online showing two men slapping and abusing him.

After a video of two insurgents physically abusing the detained comedian went viral on social media, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid acknowledged the incident was the work of insurgent fighters.

Mujahid said the men responsible for killing Zwan have been arrested and will be tried, given that they were obligated to bring the comedian to a Taliban court rather than kill him.

As well as holding scores of government and police associates in Kandahar, insurgent commanders are also accused of detaining a number of civilians.

Taliban forces cannot use brute force against their critics as they advance, says Gossman adding that while the Taliban leadership often denies the abuses, it is their fighters behind these attacks, so it is their responsibility to stop the slaughter.

US government also condemned the death of the comic.

Ross Wilson, acting US ambassador in Kabul, tweeted “Nazar Mohammad 'Khasha' was a beloved comedian, bringing laughter & joy to his community even in dark times. The Taliban kidnapped & lynched him, then gleefully published video evidence on Twitter. We condemn these sickening actions & the Taliban leadership should too.”

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Afghanistan saw its latest wave of Taliban attacks in early May after the US and NATO began formally withdrawing the last of their remaining troops.

Under President Joe Biden's orders, the process is scheduled to be completed by August 31.

Washington signed a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 that called for the insurgents to reduce violence and to negotiate a peace treaty with the Afghan government in return for the military withdrawal.

Peace talks between the warring sides were supposed to begin in September in Qatar, however, the US-backed process to resolve the Afghan dispute has largely stalled and violence has escalated.

According to a United Nations report, civilian casualties in Afghanistan increased by 47 per cent in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year.

The report warns that unless the warring parties negotiate urgently a peace deal in the next few months, Afghanistan could experience its highest-ever number of civilian casualties.

While on a visit to India on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also expressed his concern over the “deeply troubling” reports of increased attacks against Afghan civilians.

He called on the warring parties to proactively negotiate a peace settlement, "An Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people, an Afghanistan that commits atrocities against its own people would become a pariah state,".

(With inputs from agencies)

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