Saturday, May 28

Afghan activists inquire about whereabouts of two women as Taliban talks with West continue

Afghan activists are demanding answers about the whereabouts of two women who were arrested by the Taliban as the group began its second day of key talks in Norway.

The two women, Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and Parwana Ibrahimkhel, were arrested last week after attending an anti-Taliban protest against compulsory wearing of the hijab, or Islamic headscarf.

An eyewitness said that about 10 armed men, claiming to be from the Taliban intelligence department, carried out a raid on Paryani’s property on Wednesday night.

The video posted on social media appeared to show Paryani at the time of the raid, but Euronews has not been able to verify its authenticity.

Diplomats from the United Nations and beyond have called on the Taliban to properly investigate the situation and release the women.

A Taliban statement appeared to blame the incident on a recent women’s protest, saying insults to Afghan values ​​would no longer be tolerated.

Displaced members of Afghanistan’s civil society, a Taliban delegation and Western diplomats have arrived in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, for three days of closed-door meetings beginning Sunday.

On the first day, Taliban representatives met with women’s rights activists and human rights defenders from Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora, as well as a small protest outside the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to condemn the talks.

On Monday, members of the Afghan diaspora met with Western diplomats. Taliban envoys have participated in official meetings, the first time they have done so in Europe since they took over the country in August.

An American delegation, led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West, plans to discuss “the formation of a representative political system, responses to urgent humanitarian and economic crises, security and counterterrorism concerns, and human rights, especially the education for girls and women,” according to a statement issued by the State Department.

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Norway’s Foreign Ministry said the Taliban are there to discuss possible solutions to the myriad crises facing the country, including an ongoing drought, considered the worst in decades, and an economic collapse, forcing a staggering 98 percent of Afghans. to defy hunger.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimization or recognition of the Taliban. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” he said.

The Taliban hope to use the trip to secure the release of almost 8.8 billion euros in Afghan assets that were frozen after the group took control of the country.

“Because of the famine, because of the deadly winter, I think it’s time for the international community to support the Afghans, not punish them for their political bickering,” Taliban delegate Shafiullah Azam said.

Washington is unlikely to release funds unless the Taliban steps forward to protect the rights of women, girls and ethnic minorities in the country.

Azam also said that the trip was “a step to legitimize [the] Afghan government,” despite Huitfeldt’s claim to the contrary. The Taliban have yet to receive diplomatic recognition from a foreign government, although they are the effective ruling force within the country.

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