Calls mount for release of activists in Taliban custody

After the release of activist Nargis Sadat and university lecturer Zakaria Osuli, watchdog organizations and activists called for the release of other activists as well as a journalist and a musician who have been in Taliban custody for the past few months.

Sadat and Osuli who were arrested by Taliban in February were freed on Monday, but a women’s rights movement claimed that Sadat had been “tortured” while in custody.

“We welcome the release of Sadat and Osuli but we call for the release of (journalist) Murtaza Behbudi, (activist) Matiullah Wesa, (singer) Musa Shaheen, Subhanallah Subhani, Kazim Amini, Sayed Mohammad Husaini and Rasul Parsi and they should end their heinous and illegal arrests,” said Naeem Nazari, acting head of the independent human rights commission of Afghanistan.

Murtaza Behbudi’s wife in a tweet on Monday called for the release of her husband, saying that Behbudi as a journalist always tried to play an effective role for the improvement of the situation in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Journalists Center also expressed its concern over the arrest of a number of journalists and media workers by the Taliban and said Behbudi should be released for the sake of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Sufi Shoaib, a singer from Afghanistan based in the US, said all citizens of the country, especially musicians, should come together to advocate for the release of Shaheen, Wesa, Behbudi and others.

“My request from you my compatriots is to not stay silent against oppression,” he said.

The UN office in Afghanistan, UNAMA, said in a tweet on Monday it welcomes the reported release of Nargis Sadat and Zakaria Osuli, but added that it remains concerned about the “ongoing arbitrary detention of a number of Afghanistan civil society activists,” including rights defenders.”We continue to engage with de facto authorities on cases but are dismayed by the lack of information provided, despite ongoing requests,” UNAMA said.