Taliban chase and attack women at Kabul protest

·3 min read
Taliban fighters fired into the air as women marched in front of the education building in Kabul on the eve of the one-year anniversary of its seizure of power - Nava Jamshidi
Taliban fighters fired into the air as women marched in front of the education building in Kabul on the eve of the one-year anniversary of its seizure of power - Nava Jamshidi

The Taliban was condemned on Sunday for beating women at a demonstration on the eve of the one-year anniversary of their seizure of power.

As Afghanistan marks a year since the West's chaotic withdrawal from Kabul, fears that the Taliban would roll back women’s rights gained during two decades of Western intervention appear to have been justified.

On Saturday a group of 40 women marched in front of the education building in Kabul chanting "bread, work and freedom".

Some defied the strict dress code by refusing to wear face veils.

Taliban militants dispersed the crowd by firing into the air before chasing after the protesters and beating them with rifle butts.

The women shouted 'bread, work, freedom' as they marched through Afghanistan's capital of Kabul on Saturday - Nava Jamshidi
The women shouted 'bread, work, freedom' as they marched through Afghanistan's capital of Kabul on Saturday - Nava Jamshidi

The fighters seized the protesters’ mobile phones and ripped up their banners as they cracked down on the first women’s rally in months.

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, on Sunday condemned the latest curbs: "The EU is particularly concerned by the fate of Afghan women and girls who have seen their freedoms, rights and access to basic services such as education being systematically denied.

Meanwhile, in Britain, Priti Patel hailed the Government’s much-criticised evacuation operation a year ago.

In a video to mark the first anniversary of Operation Pitting, the Home Secretary described the UK effort as "seismic" and a demonstration of the country's "bond of trust" with those Afghans who had helped UK forces.

Ms Patel said 21,000 refugees had been brought to Britain, adding that the government had stood by the pledges it made to Afghans who stood by Britain for the decades of western occupation of the country.

Her remarks were in stark contrast to a highly critical report earlier this year by the cross-party Foreign Affairs Committee at Westminster.

It criticised Dominic Raab, the former foreign secretary, and the department’s most senior official for not returning from their summer holidays as the Afghan government crumbled.

MPs said soldiers and civil servants had been “utterly let down” by “deep failures of leadership” within government.

Meanwhile, the US was accused of failing to share secret documents which formed part of the peace deal the Trump administration signed with the Taliban.

Although Joe Biden was in the White House when the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan took place, much of the preparatory work had been done by his predecessor.

According to The Sunday Times the agreement, which was part of Mr Trump’s pledge to end “forever wars”, included detailed arrangements for how the Taliban and NATO troops would end the fighting.

Former Afghan security personnel with sensitive knowledge of US operations left behind by the American evacuation operation are vulnerable to recruitment or coercion by Russia, China and Iran, US Republicans warned last night (Sunday).

"This is especially true given reports that some former Afghan military personnel have fled to Iran," minority Republicans of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a report on the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

The Biden administration, the report said, failed to prioritise evacuating U.S.-trained Afghan commandos and other elite units in the shambolic troop pullout and evacuation operation at Kabul international airport.

Thirteen US soldiers died and hundreds of U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans were left behind during the operation.

The administration calls the operation an "extraordinary success" that flew more than 124,000 Americans and Afghans to safety and wound up an "endless" war in which some 3,500 U.S. and allied troops, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans died.

But hundreds of U.S.-trained commandos and other former security personnel and their families remain in Afghanistan amid reports the Taliban have been killing and torturing former Afghan officials, allegations the militants deny.

The Telegraph has approached the Foreign Office for comment.