02 May

In August 2021, the Taliban took Afghanistan by force for the second time in their history. This was quickly followed by a hasty U.S. military withdrawal, giving the Taliban a free hand to impose their rule. The Taliban made some commitments in the agreement signed in Doha, also referred to as the Doha Agreement. As part of this agreement, Taliban also pledged to prevent foreign terrorist groups to use Afghan soil to threaten the U.S. and its allies. However, all available evidence suggests that the Taliban has failed to uphold this commitment. Under the Taliban’s rule, Afghanistan is once again becoming a hub of regional and global terrorism.

Taliban’s rule has seen widespread extrajudicial killings, detentions of civil activists and journalists and torture including public beatings and humiliation. The initial facade of a changed Taliban was washed away when Taliban consolidated power and more radical elements took charge of decision making. This has led the Taliban to even impose a ban on higher education for girls, a move that has been criticised by many Islamic scholars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In January this year the United Nations warned over a 100 former soldiers have been slain since the Taliban took over.

Data gathered by ACLED (Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project) shows that between August 15th, 2021 and March 15th, 2022, Taliban were responsible for 53% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, with nearly 30% of such violence directed towards former government officials and security forces.

Source: ACLED

In April 2022 Midstone Centre launched the project Stories From Afghanistan, where we will amplify voices from Afghanistan that have been directly or indirectly affected by the violence perpetrated by the Taliban and other violent groups. Many people affected by this violence are unable to come forward with their stories due to security threats to themselves or their loved ones still living in Afghanistan. Therefore, Midstone Centre will amplify these voices while protecting their identity and other personal information. Submissions can be mailed at [email protected]

A few days ago, a UN staffer in Afghanistan shared their story with Midstone Centre’s team on the ground, which is being shared here in their own words. The individual’s identity is being kept confidential.

I am a United Nations employee in Afghanistan. The first time I received a threat from Taliban was in 2014 when I was working with the United Nations in [censored] Province. The first threat was a phone call from the Taliban telling my background and saying that “You are working for infidels as a spy and we know everything about you, you better quit your job or you will be punished badly”. I did not take this seriously and reported it to the office. After some time a written letter was thrown at my residence in Kabul, carrying the same words that I’m working for infidels as a spy but also mentioned that “you have ignored our phone call”. I reported this to the office and I was told to take a break for some time. I did take leave for some time from the country, but I didn’t quit my job as I had to support my family and I loved my profession. After that I kept receiving threats and I was declared a spy of “infidels”. In 2021 when the Taliban took over the whole country I received a call and I was asked to cooperate with them as I am a UN staff member. As I had several threats and I had previously ignored their orders, I was not feeling comfortable in the country and I requested office for a temporary evacuation, and I was evacuated to Pakistan for some time, but the story did not end there. One day my mother called me and was shouting over the call that the Taliban entered our home and searched the whole house. I asked my mom to stay calm and not to interfere in their work and to let them do whatever they want to do. They searched the whole house, they confiscated my personal belongings such as some clothing items and bags, saying these are military equipment. This is worth mentioning that before joining UN I was working with a US security company, and the clothing items and bags seized by Taliban were given to me by my supervisor. They asked my brother about me and when I am returning to Afghanistan, they left a message for my brother to tell me that they won’t hurt me if I return to Afghanistan. After a few days of their search operation, they visited again and asked my brother if I am back or not. I am wondering that before they took the government they considered me a spy working for “infidels” but now I am UN staff member and they need me to cooperate with them? This is very strange for me.

Send us your stories from Afghanistan [email protected]