Qatar, EU call Afghanistan abuses 'disappointing'

A member of the Taliban special forces chasing away a journalist reporting on a demonstration by women outside a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept 30, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

DOHA (AFP) - Qatar and the European Union's (EU) top diplomats on Thursday (Sept 30) labelled a recent string of human rights abuses in Afghanistan "disappointing", with Doha encouraging the Taliban to look to Qatar for how to run an Islamic system.

The Taliban publicly strung up four alleged kidnappers from cranes in Herat last week and older girls are still unable to resume their studies weeks into the new academic year.

"The recent actions that we have seen, unfortunately, in Afghanistan - it has been very disappointing to see some steps being taken backwards," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at a media briefing in Doha.

Qatar has become a key broker in Afghanistan following last month's withdrawal of United States forces, helping to evacuate thousands of foreigners and Afghans, engaging the new Taliban rulers and supporting operations at Kabul airport.

"We need to keep engaging them and urging them not to take such actions, and we have also been trying to demonstrate for the Taliban how Muslim countries can conduct their laws, how they can deal with the women's issues," said Mr Sheikh Mohammed.

"One of the examples is the state of Qatar, which is a Muslim country; our system is an Islamic system (but) we have women outnumbering men in workforces in government and in higher education."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, in Doha for meetings, echoed the Qatari top diplomat, calling "some of the things that have happened in Afghanistan recently... quite disappointing".

"Let's hope we can manage to reorient... the Afghan government," he said, adding that he hoped Qatar could use its "strong influence" on the Taliban to encourage the group to improve its treatment of civilians.

The display of the dead kidnapping suspects, who were killed in a shoot-out, was the most high-profile public punishment since the Taliban swept to power last month.

It has been seen as a sign the Islamist hardliners will adopt fearsome measures similar to those they resorted to during their previous rule from 1996 to 2001.

It has been almost two weeks since girls were prevented from going to secondary school, with isolated rallies led by women breaking out across Afghanistan in recent days.

Mr Sheikh Mohammed called on the Taliban to "maintain and preserve the gains made in past years", but warned the international community not to isolate Afghanistan.

The Taliban follows a strict interpretation of Islamic syariah law that segregates men and women, and has also slashed women's access to work.

"It's very important for the Muslim countries to show good examples for the Taliban in order to avoid any mistreatment for the women or misusing syariah law," Mr Sheikh Mohammed said.

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