Taliban have held 29 women and their families at Kabul, according to US envoy. Afghanistan| Afghanistan



A senior US diplomat stated that 29 women and their families were held by the Taliban in Kabul. This adds to growing concerns over the number of Afghans being seized and held indefinitely.

Rina Amiri, US special envoy for Afghan Women, Girls & Human Rights, said that women were among 40 people seized on Friday. “These unjust detentions must stop,” she said in a tweet.

Although it was deleted later, other sources confirmed that several women were detained in Kabul. It was not clear why the state department removed it.

The Taliban had released two foreign journalists, along with a group of journalists earlier in Friday. This was after international outrage at their detention. They also freed an activist who had disappeared after a women’s rights protest, amid mounting diplomatic pressure including from the UN secretary general.

“I am increasingly concerned about the wellbeing of missing women activists in Afghanistan. Several have ‘disappeared’, some not heard from in weeks,” António Guterres had said on Twitter on Thursday. “I strongly urge the Taliban to ensure their safety so that they can return home.”

Others, however, were not released from their homes. Both the Interior ministry as well as the Taliban police denied any involvement in their arrests.

Rights groups condemned the Taliban’s campaign of intimidation that led to the disappearances. They also banned girls from secondary school and barred women from any work outside the education and health sectors.

“Every disappearance highlights one of the huge gaps in Afghanistan today, the lack of rule of law,” said Heather Barr, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.

“This is not how you act when you are trying to be a government, and it highlights the callousness with which they seem to think they can just abduct women and sloppily deny it.”

Alia Azizi has also been missing for over four months, after she reported to work. Since the Taliban took power, several women who were part of the security forces of the former government have been attacked or killed.

“While we welcome the release of Parwana, these families and others, including Alia, are still detained,” Amiri said in her tweet.

None of the people held were ever charged or allowed to speak with lawyers.

Concerns have also been raised by the British government about citizens being held for several months. The family of cameraman-turned-businessman Peter Jouvenal have gone public with their concerns about his health, since he was seized in December.

He is married to an Afghan citizen. He was in Kabul to work and settle his family affairs. Friends are concerned for his safety and well-being. He requires medication to control high blood pressure. Covid is a common problem in Afghanistan’s prison system.

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