Another Day, Another Public Flogging in Afghanistan as 11, Including 2 Women, Lashed by Taliban in Badakhshan

Kandahar Taliban
Representative photo which displays a stadium in Kandahar where public flogging takes place.

The latest: Taliban continues to hand out punishments in public in line with its interpretation of the “Sharia rule” despite global condemnation and pressure as on Friday, the group’s Supreme Court again released a statement saying that at least 11 people, including two women, had been publicly flogged at a sports ground in the city of Faizabad in Badakhshan.

Go deeper:

  • These individuals had been allegedly accused of “moral crimes and adultery, having an illicit relationship and theft”, and were lashed by the Taliban officials in front of a huge crowd in northern Badakhshan province.
  • What is important to note here is that high-ranking Taliban officials, scholars, and local elders also attended the event, which took place in the 7th district of Faizabad city.
  • As per some eyewitnesses, each accused had been sentenced to 39 lashes by the Taliban court and the public flogging had been scheduled to take place after the Friday prayers.

Take note: Previously, the Taliban in Badakhshan had publicly flogged 27 people, including five women, for similar crimes. Recently, Taliban flogged a boy and a girl in full public view on charges of illicit relations and talking on the phone. Both had been residents of Shuhada and Baharak districts and had spent several months in Taliban prison.

Back story: Public punishments began after Taliban Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada in November 2022 ordered judges to uphold aspects of Islamic law, including implementation of Hudood (crimes against God) and Qisas (retribution in kind) punishments like public executions, stoning, flogging, and amputation of limbs. The order also led to the first public execution of a convicted murder since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

  • Women too have not been left out and the Taliban seems to be raking in this “show”. In fact, when the group publicly executed the first person under their second rule, they put up a grand “spectacle”. All senior officials of the Taliban had landed to witness the execution in public. What this inhuman treatment holds for the future of the country is only doom.
  • The Islamist group previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 when Taliban authorities would routinely carry out punishments in public, including floggings and executions at sports stadiums before crowds of spectators.
  • In this new year alone, Taliban authorities have publicly flogged at least 250 people on charges of various crimes in different provinces like Helmand, Farah, Takhar, Logar, Kabul, Badakhshan, Uruzgan, Jawzjan, Parwan, Paktiya, Paktika, Laghman, and some other provinces.
  • Prior to this, as per the verdict of the Taliban supreme court, 16 people were publicly flogged in the Grishk district of southern Helmand province.

Zoom out: There has been outrage in the global community with the return of such barbaric practices, in fact, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the international community was “calling for the suspension of the death penalty by the Taliban.”

  • US State Department spokesman, Ned Price had also said that the implementation of the death penalty by the Taliban indicates the group’s return to its “dark past”, and its regressive policies.
  • The United Nations human rights office had said that the execution in Farah, the first public execution since the Taliban returned to power, was “disturbing” and called for “an immediate moratorium on any further executions”.
  • But international pressure does not seem to have made the Taliban budge. Taliban seems adamant, as the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in response to the massive criticisms on Twitter said that the international community “should not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.” “Afghanistan is an Islamic country … they have sacrificed a lot for the implementation of Islamic laws and system,” said Mujahid.
  • That is not all as shame, humiliation and mental torture are things that an individual accused by the Taliban’s Supreme Court have to go through apart from the physical punishments when the group’s alleged justice takes its course in Afghanistan. The public punishments are not a small affair either, large crowds gather at the stadiums to watch the public flogging.

However, take note of the recent developments, the Taliban has been very vocal about these public punishments despite the all-round criticism. The group seems to revel in the fact that they are adopting their stringent, hardline Islamist policies which they had promised to shed when they came to power again.

  • Of course, for the first year, such public executions had been brushed under the carpet and they were not reported a lot as the Taliban didn’t publicise it. However, now it seems that the group has emboldened and publicly advertises such punishments, even to the extent of inviting high-level ministers to sports stadiums to witness executions.
  • The Taliban has been consistent over the past few months, ever since their Supreme leader called for the implementation of their interpretation of the Islamic law, in releasing press statements for the world to see. As if the medieval public executions and floggings were not enough, now the Taliban is busy showcasing it to the world what they earlier did in secrecy.
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