HRW official decries Taliban’s detention of women as human rights violation

File-Photo, Afghan Women Protest

Heather Barr, the associate director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, on Saturday denounced the Taliban’s recent detention of three young women in Kabul as a human rights violation.

Barr stressed the importance of amplifying the voices of protesters to draw international attention to the human rights crisis in Afghanistan. She highlighted Human Rights Watch’s findings that the Taliban have arbitrarily arrested protesters, denied them due process, and subjected women and girls to torture and demeaning conditions.

The detainees, identified as Azada Rezaee, Nadia Rezaee, and Ilaha Rezaee, are members of the Afghan Women’s Movement for Justice. According to relatives, they were arrested along with their brother in Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi area on March 27.

An elder sister of the detainees told Amu that despite inquiries at the 13th and 18th security districts and the Taliban’s Ministry of Interior, her family has been unable to obtain any information about their whereabouts.

Khalid Zadran, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s police command in Kabul, claimed in a social media post that no such actions had been taken by Taliban institutions in the area recently.

Protesting women have accused the Taliban of refusing to acknowledge the arrests of women and girls. “This is not the first time the Taliban have abducted and denied arresting protesters in Afghanistan,” said Maryam Arwin, a member of the Purple Saturdays Movement leadership. She urged protest movements, especially those with leaders abroad, to prioritize and support their colleagues in Afghanistan and to press for the immediate release of the detainees.

Other human rights organizations have also expressed concern over the arrests. FEMENA, a women’s rights organization, described the abduction of the three Hazara protesters and their brother as “deeply troubling,” criticizing the international community’s lack of a unified response to Taliban atrocities. Freedom Now condemned the arrest of the three sisters and their brother, calling for an end to the Taliban’s attacks on civil activists.

Ruqiya Saee, a women’s rights activist, echoed the call for an end to the Taliban’s repression of women’s rights and human rights activists.

Despite international outcry and calls for action, the Taliban’s arrest of women and girls, particularly women’s rights activists, has persisted throughout their more than two-and-a-half-year rule in Afghanistan. The United Nations, the international community, and human rights organizations have repeatedly demanded an immediate halt to these detentions, but the Taliban have often denied the arrests or remained silent in response.