The Taliban-Occupied Afghanistan Is an Open-Air Prison

Facing hunger and humiliation, cultural genocide and gender apartheid, millions in Afghanistan are thinking of jailbreak and escaping to another country.
The Taliban-Occupied Afghanistan Is an Open-Air Prison

Sheberghan, Afghanistan – 5 May 2019 © Amors Photos/Shutterstock

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, many Afghans have lost hope in the future of their country. Over a million have fled their homes and millions of others struggle to eke out an existence. The economy of Afghanistan has collapsed and, as per the UN envoy to Kabul, might be “approaching a point of irreversibility.”

A Tale of Tragic Suffering

The Taliban are ruling the country with an iron fist. They have attempted to cut off Afghanistan from the rest of the world by imposing restrictions on local and international media. As they rule behind an iron curtain, the Taliban has been arresting and even killing their opponents, especially those who served in the Afghanistan National Security and Defense Forces.

The Taliban’s behavior does not sit well with the international community. They have cut aid, frozen Afghanistan’s foreign assets and been wary of providing financial assistance to the country. Recently, the international community pledged $2.4 billion in humanitarian aid, far less than the $4.4 billion requested by the UN. The World Bank has also suspended four projects worth $600 million.

Because of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, hunger and malnutrition now ravage the land. So, do tragic premature deaths. In the first quarter of 2022, an estimated 13,000 newborn babies have already died of malnutrition. In January, the UN estimated that half a million people lost their jobs in the first six months of the Taliban’s rule. The UN has predicted that a staggering 97% of Afghans could plunge into poverty by the middle of this year. The Taliban is unconcerned about saving babies, preserving jobs or alleviating poverty. Instead, it is obsessed only with concentrating power and implementing their fanatical Islamic agenda.

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Cultural Genocide and Gender Apartheid

The Taliban has consistently sought to erase longstanding ancient Persian and other native cultures in Afghanistan by deeming them unIslamic. The regime has banned music in public, prosecuted several musicians, banned soap operas and prohibited celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian new year. For over three millennia, Nowruz has been celebrated in the Persianate world of which modern day Afghanistan has always been a part. The Taliban is severing that umbilical cultural cord between Afghanistan and its Persian roots in the name of Islam.

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When it comes to women, the Taliban has unleashed a policy of gender apartheid. They have been in the news for banning girls from returning to secondary schools and imposing numerous restrictions on women. Under the Taliban, women cannot travel alone, they have to wear what the Taliban prescribe, they cannot work, they are deprived of education and they live in constant fear of the regime’s religious police. More than anyone else, women lead lives of indignity and humiliation.

The Taliban have turned Afghanistan into a de facto open-air prison. Gallup estimates that a record-high 53% of Afghans want to leave their country. It is clear that Afghanistan is in crisis but most powerful states in the international community do not see Afghanistan as vital to their strategic interests. Besides, their focus has shifted to Russia’s occupation of Ukraine and they have no bandwidth to deal with Afghanistan. As a result, Afghans suffer under a fanatical and repressive regime with millions trying to jailbreak to freedom and safety.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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