The Taliban used gunfire, detentions and beatings to quell oppositions against their rule, as hundreds of Afghan demonstrators marched through Kabul in the largest protest the capital has seen since the militant group seized power last month.
According to photos and videos shared on social media, activists shouted in support of Panjshir resistance fighters and chanted against Pakistan, which they view as meddling in Afghan affairs.
Videos from central Kabul showed a huge number of men and women marching through the streets yelling “Death to Pakistan” as they made their way towards the presidential palace.
Amid chaotic scenes on the streets, Talibani terrorists intervened and fired gunshots into the air in order to disperse the protesters. The videos showed people scattering or crouching down amid sustained bursts of gunfire. There were no initial reports of casualties.
Witnesses estimated that there werearound 300 to 500 people – many of whom were women wearing the hijab.
Demonstrators question Pakistan’s role:
Some of the demonstrators complained the head of Pakistan’s military intelligence’s hand in negotiations concluded on the formation of a government. The intelligence chief, Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, arrived in the national capital at the weekend and has been meeting senior officials of the militant group, including Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s Political Bureau.
One man said: “The protest near Zanbak Square was dispersed by Taliban shooting in the air. Most of our friends went towards Serena Hotel. One group gathered here, and another group marched towards Pakistan embassy. No matter if they try to cut us off we will sprout [again], we will grow. We will not go quiet. We will never accept the enslavement and invasion of any foreigners.”
In one video from the national capital on Tuesday (7 September 2021), a woman is seen to confront a Talibani terrorists. Afghan journalist Ahmad Jawid Kargar told news agency CNN that the militant group detained a number of women who were protesting in front of the presidential gate and detained them in the basement of the Azizi Bank nearby. CNN has been unable to confirm the number of people who were actually detained.
A non-Afghan photojournalist who was one of the numerous media representatives detained at the protest said that he had been held for a period oftwo hours. He told CNN: “Before detaining me, one Taliban beat me with his AK-47, on the back of my head.” He said his camera was broken but when the Taliban found out that he was not a citizen of Afghanistan. “They were not treating local journalists the same and made sure several times that I wasn’t one.”
The photojournalist said that it was becoming quite impossible to work in Kabul. “There’s nothing we can do. They ban us from coverage. We can’t do our work. They are just so aggressive. I saw this with my own eyes — I saw a man point his gun at the people, he was ready to shoot. Another guy had to stop him. He was so close to doing it. Some of them are just uncontrollable.”
The photojournalist added: “There were around 500 people at the protest today. Women were being detained in an outdoor parking lot. They were not allowed out of that space. That was their method of detaining and stopping them.”
According to the social media accounts of numerous Afghan journalists, at least a few of the reporters and cameramen who had been detained have since been released. Reportedly, some of them had been beaten.
Kabul News posted on Twitter that Ahmad Najim Sultani, a photographer for Kabul News TV, was injured and Imran Fazli, a journalist, was beaten during the Kabul protest. “The Taliban also confiscated photography equipment,” it said.
News agency Tolo News said in a tweet: “Waheed Ahmadi, a Tolo News photographer, was released by Taliban forces after a three-hour detention. The Taliban returned the photos to Mr. Ahmadi with a camera.”
Ariana News, another Kabul-based private TV network, had also said that its reporter and cameraman were detained.
Human rights body Amnesty International said in Twitter post that it is “deeply concerned about reports on use of violence against peaceful protestors & journalists in Kabul by the Taliban. Exercising right to freedom of peaceful assembly is a human right. Taliban must respect & allow people to exercise their rights.”
While Human Rights Watch tweeted: “In yet another indication that #Afghanistan’s new rulers will not tolerate peaceful dissent, the Taliban again used force to crush a protest by hundreds of #Afghan women calling for their rights today.”
The protests in Kabul also saw people chanting slogans in favour of the National Resistance Front (NRF) leader, Ahmad Masood, who has been leading opposition to the Taliban from the Panjshir province. On Monday (6 September 2021), he called for a national uprising against Taliban rule as the terror outfit claimed victory in the mountainous region, following a fortnight of intense fighting with the NRF. The NRF denied the claim, with spokesman Ali Nazary telling CNN: “The resistance is still all over the valley.”
One man told Reuters: “I have come today to ask why Pakistan is destroying Panjshir. I am from Panjshir. People need to express their anger, men and women, they must not stay silent. Pakistan enters my country and destroys it. Neither Pakistan nor the Taliban or Al-Qaeda have this right. Long live Panjshir and its resistance.”
When questioned about the handling of the protests at a press meet to announce the new government, the spokesman of Taliban Zabihullah Mujahid said that illegal demonstrations would not be entertained. He said that protesters must observe the rules that were set during the current emergency in the country.
He rubbished the claims by protesters about the interference of Pakistan in Afghanistan, saying that they were mere rumours that had been circulated for two decades.
There have previously been a several small-scale protests in Kabul and other cities of Afghanistan in the last week that have seen female activists call on the militant group to respect their rights and allow them to participate in government. One protest by women in Kabul was broken up at the weekend.
According to multiple videos and images posted on social media Tuesday (7 September 2021), there was also a protest in the Herat province at which “Death to Pakistan” was also chanted. In a number of videos, gunfire could be heard as protesters ran or took cover. At least 2 people lost their lives and 8 others were wounded, according to an official at the regional hospital.
The casualties were caused by the Taliban “firing shots into the air” in order to disperse the crowd of protestors and demonstrators, the hospital official said. No public comments from the side of Taliban in this regard has yet come.