By Rukhshana Media
A group of women marched in the Afghan capital on Sunday, calling for justice for women killed or disappeared by the Taliban. The Taliban quickly arrived and dispersed the protesters by pepper-spraying and beating them.
“Today, we came out to ask where Alia is and why Zainabs are killed,” Hoda Khamoush, an organizer, told Rukhshana Media. She was referring to the disappearance of Alia Azizi, the director of the women’s prison in the western city of Herat, who went missing in late September, and Zainab Abdullahi, who was killed at a Taliban checkpoint late Thursday night. Khamoush added that the Taliban also killed a pregnant woman in Kabul, also named Zainab, whose family is pressured by the Taliban to stay silent.
The protest started from the Pole-Sorkh area of Kabul and marched toward Kabul University, and the protesters were chanting: “Justice, Justice, we are tired of captivity,” “Where is Alia, and why [did] you kill Zainab?”
Soon the Taliban arrived at the scene, armed with rifles, batons, and pepper spray.
“Near the University, they encircled us, and beat us with batons and pepper sprayed us. But we stood together in a corner, and some people joined us. We continued chanting,” Khamoush said.
A protester wore a white burqa colored red, symbolizing the compulsory hijab and systematic killing of women since the Taliban took over. In a video posted on social media, a woman removed the burqa and threw it on the ground; other protesters stepped on it, chanting “no to the compulsory hijab.”
“The aim of wearing a white burqa was to show how women are restricted and how the Taliban are removing them in one or the other way, like Zainabs and Alia. The red color on both sides of the burqa means women’s wings are broken, and there is no one to help us,” said Marjana Amiry, one of the protesters.
On Saturday, the Taliban canceled a planned protest over the killing and disappearance of Zainab and Alia. They seized the venue before protesters could gather, said Zahra Mohammadi, an organizer of Saturday’s rally.
Despite the Taliban’s suppression, it has been five months since women organized protests in different parts of Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul, asking the Taliban to respect their rights and the international community not to recognize the Taliban. The confrontation often ends with the Taliban beating and threatening protesters and arresting the journalists.