The supposedly “kinder, gentler” Taliban employed their newly-minted special forces team to break up a protest for women’s rights in Afghanistan.
On Saturday, the Taliban’s “Badri 313 special forces squadron” – the subjects of those viral propaganda videos – fired weapons into the air to disperse a women’s rights protest unfolding in Kabul. According to the Associated Press, the Taliban not only broke up the march but also painted over murals that honored American-Afghan historian Nancy Dupree:
The women’s march — the second in as many days in Kabul — began peacefully. Demonstrators laid a wreath outside Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry to honor Afghan soldiers who died fighting the Taliban before marching on to the presidential palace.
Taliban members whitewashed murals Saturday that promoted health care, warned of the dangers of HIV and even paid homage to some of Afghanistan’s iconic foreign contributors, like anthropologist Nancy Dupree, who singlehandedly chronicled Afghanistan’s rich cultural legacy. It was a worrying sign of attempts to erase reminders of the past 20 years.
The murals were instead replaced with propaganda celebrating the Taliban victory. Ahmadullah Muttaqi, a Taliban cultural commission spokesman, tweeted that the murals stood against the Taliban “values.”
“They were spoiling the minds of the mujahedeen and instead we wrote slogans that will be useful to everyone,” he said.
Farhat Popalzai, a 24-year-old university student, said that she will continue to be a voice for Afghanistan’s voiceless despite the strong opposition.
“I am the voice of the women who are unable to speak.” she said. “They think this is a man’s country but it is not, it is a woman’s country too.”
This past August, activist and former Afghan judge Najla Ayoubi alleged that the Taliban burned a woman for her bad cooking. “They are forcing people to give them food and cook them food. A woman was put on fire because she was accused of bad cooking for Taliban fighters,” Ayoubi told Sky News.
Fawzia Koofi, a women’s rights activist and member of the Afghan delegation working to negotiate peace during the U.S. withdrawal, told NBC News that women will suffer a grisly fate under the Taliban.