KABUL – The Taliban government is observing the second anniversary of its return to power in Afghanistan on Tuesday, marked by celebrations and a public holiday. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, in a statement praised the “conquest of Kabul,” which occurred as American troops were departing from the country.
On this occasion, the Taliban rulers have declared a public holiday and are set to hold parades and gatherings to honor their takeover. Throughout Afghan cities, including Kabul, Taliban fighters, armored vehicles, and civilians are participating in parades to mark the two-year milestone. Security measures are notably stringent in Kabul, with increased surveillance by Taliban soldiers.
The Taliban’s entry into Kabul in August 2021 coincided with the collapse of the country’s military and the departure of former president Ashraf Ghani, as the US-led Western military force was withdrawing. During this time, many Afghans were evacuated from Kabul, but a significant number were left stranded as Taliban control was reestablished. Over the past two years, the Taliban has enforced a strict interpretation of Islam, particularly affecting women, leading to what the United Nations terms “gender apartheid.” The Taliban has imposed severe limitations on educational and professional opportunities for women and curtailed their participation in public life. These policies have resulted in the international community’s reluctance to recognize the Taliban’s leadership in Afghanistan.
A joint statement from over two dozen “human rights experts” at the United Nations Human Rights Office this week voiced opposition to the changes implemented by the Taliban under their rule in Afghanistan. The statement highlighted the erosion of various human rights, including education, work, freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and underscores concerns about summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, and arbitrary displacement. The Taliban’s use of harsh and undignified punishments, such as stoning and flogging, is deemed contrary to international human rights standards.
The statement called on the Taliban to make immediate course corrections in their treatment of women and girls, reopen schools and universities for female students, and ensure the right to education. Furthermore, the Taliban is urged to cease reprisals against former government officials, security personnel, and civil society members, among other demands.