Afghanistan: Taliban takes another women's rights protester

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An Afghan woman exile in India displays a placard as she takes part in an anti-Taliban demonstration in New Delhi on August 23, 2021Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
File photo of an Afghan woman taking part in a protest

The Taliban have allegedly taken a woman from her home by force after she participated in protests in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Mursal Ayar was arrested in the city on Wednesday, a source told the BBC, after she took part in rallies demanding equal rights for women.

Women have been participating in a string of protests which have attracted international attention.

Ms Ayar is believed to be the sixth protester to vanish in recent weeks.

The Taliban have, however, denied detaining the women. A spokesman said they were looking into Ms Ayar's case.

"This is a case which has just happened. We are investigating it," Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told the BBC.

Apart from Ms Ayar, there are fears for Parwana Ibrahimkhail, Tamana Paryani and Ms Paryani's three sisters Zarmina, Shafiqa and Karima who went missing on 19 January.

Ms Ibrahimkhail and Ms Paryani were part of a large protest on 16 January, calling for women to be given work, study and political rights under the country's new Taliban rulers.

Days later, Ms Paryani later posted a video on social media showing armed men entering her apartment block.

"Help, the Taliban have come to my house," she said before the video ended.

In a previous interview with the BBC, Suhail Shaheen, who hopes to become the Taliban's ambassador to the United Nations, accused Ms Paryani of "making fake scenes and shooting films in order to seek asylum abroad".

Image caption,
Tamana Zaryabi Paryani posted a video of herself pleading for help

Ms Ibrahimkhail's brother-in-law was also abducted while the pair were travelling in Kabul, the UN has said.

The UN's human rights office on Saturday said again that it was "very alarmed" over the continued disappearance of people connected with the recent women's rights protests.

"We are gravely concerned for their well-being and safety," said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Tuesday.

"The lack of clear information on the location and well-being of these and other individuals, perpetuates a climate of fear and uncertainty," she added.

The UN noted that the Taliban had on Saturday announced an investigation into the women's disappearance but said confirmed information was still lacking.

They also said the reports of missing women highlighted "a pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions", as well as torture and mistreatment of civil rights activists, journalists and former government officials in Afghanistan.

The UN urged the Taliban authorities to "send clear messages to their rank-and-file that there must be no reprisals against people who demonstrate peacefully and exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly".

Under Taliban rule Afghanistan has become the only country in the world which publicly limits education on the basis of gender, which is a major sticking point in the Taliban's quest for legitimacy, and in the lifting of international sanctions on the group.

The regular protests by women highlighting the issue are being seen as a huge source of embarrassment to the group.

Media caption,

Taliban official Suhail Shaheen told the BBC that Tamana Paryani's video was faked