Tuesday, November 30

The Taliban will allow 200 foreigners to go on charter flights | Taliban

Two hundred Americans and other foreigners remaining in Afghanistan were expected to leave the country on charter flights from Kabul on Thursday after the new Taliban government agreed to their evacuation.

The departures will be among the first international flights to take off from Kabul airport since the end of the chaotic US-led evacuation of 124,000 foreigners and Afghans at risk.

The new Taliban-approved exits come amid growing concern over the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation under the hardline Islamist group’s new government, including around freedom of expression and women’s rights. women.

With the Taliban moving to ban the demonstrations after the appointment of a new interim cabinet, Afghan journalists on Thursday described being beaten and detained after covering the protests.

Among them were two reporters who were left with welts and bruises after being beaten and detained for hours by Taliban agents for covering a protest in the Afghan capital on Wednesday. They were taken to a police station in the capital, where they say they were punched and beaten with batons, electric cables and whips after being accused of organizing the protest.

“One of the Taliban put a foot on my head and smashed my face against the concrete. They kicked me in the head… I thought they were going to kill me, ”said Nematullah Naqdi, a photographer.

Despite promises of a more inclusive regime, including allowing journalists to work, the Taliban have moved vigorously to extinguish opposition against their government, including a ban on unauthorized protests issued by the Interior Ministry on Wednesday.

Naqdi and her colleague Taqi Daryabi, a reporter, working for Etilaat Roz (Information Daily), were covering a protest in Kabul by women demanding the right to work and education.

Naqdi said he was approached by a Taliban fighter as soon as he started taking pictures.

“They told me, ‘You can’t film,'” he said. “They arrested everyone who was filming and took their phones.”

“The Taliban started insulting me, kicking me,” Naqdi said, adding that he was accused of being the organizer of the demonstration. He asked why they beat him and was told: “You are lucky you were not beheaded.”

The new evacuation flights follow pressure on the Taliban to allow US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad to leave, according to a US official.

The official could not say whether US civilians and other foreign nationals were among those stranded for days in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif because they had not been allowed to leave on their private jets.

The Taliban’s announcement of a new government on Tuesday was seen as a sign that they were not seeking to expand their base and present a more tolerant face to the world, as they had suggested they would do before their military takeover.

Foreign countries greeted the interim government with caution and dismay on Wednesday. In Kabul, dozens of women took to the streets in protest.

Many critics called on leaders to respect basic human rights and revive the economy, which faces collapse amid high inflation, food shortages and the prospect of foreign aid declining as countries seek to isolate. the Taliban.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that no one in the Biden administration “would suggest that the Taliban are respected and valued members of the global community.”

Longer-term aid would depend on the Taliban respecting basic freedoms, he added.

The new acting cabinet includes former detainees from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, while Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani is wanted by the United States on terrorism charges and has a $ 10 million reward (7 , 25 million pounds sterling).

His uncle, with a $ 5 million reward, is a minister for refugees and repatriation.


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