Afghanistan: First public execution since Taliban takeover


For the first time since their return to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out a public execution on Wednesday of a man convicted of murder, just weeks after their supreme leader ordered them to apply Islamic law to the its most brutal aspects.

The Supreme Court has been ordered to enforce "this order of 'qisas' during a public gathering of residents" in Farah (west), Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, referring to the law of retaliation which appears in Sharia.

The convict, named Tajmir, was accused of murdering a man in 2017 and stealing his motorcycle and a cell phone, according to the Taliban statement.

The sentence was carried out by the victim's father who shot the condemned man three times with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, the Taliban spokesman said in the evening.

Under the first Taliban regime (1996-2001), the majority of convicts were shot or stoned, depending on the crimes charged.

The death row inmate, who resided in Anjil district, Herat province, western Afghanistan, was "recognized by the heirs of the deceased" and admitted his guilt, assured the same source.

The new leaders of the country assured that the case had been thoroughly examined by different courts (first instance, court of appeal and Supreme Court), before their supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada endorsed the sentence.

"This case has been examined very carefully," said the Taliban spokesman.

In mid-November, Hibatullah Akhundzada had ordered judges to enforce all aspects of Islamic law, including public executions, stonings and floggings, and amputation of limbs for thieves.

“Carefully examine the records of thieves, kidnappers and seditious,” the Taliban spokesman wrote in a tweet quoting Mr. Akhundzada.

Create unity within the regime

For "these cases in which all the conditions of Sharia (...) have been met, you are obliged to apply" all the sanctions provided for, he continued.

"With this formal notice to apply what is written, Hibatullah Akhundzada recalls that the only law on Earth is that of God and that men do not have to interpret it", analyzes Karim Pakzad, researcher at the Institute of international and strategic relations (Iris), interviewed by AFP.

The Taliban today facing resistance within the regime itself, “Sharia, which is the ideological basis of the movement, is a way of bringing people together and creating unity”, observes the researcher.

They have carried out several public floggings since taking power in August 2021, but Wednesday's execution is the first they have acknowledged.

Social media has been flooded for more than a year with videos and photos of Taliban fighters inflicting street floggings on people accused of various offences.

There are also reports of floggings for adultery in rural areas after Friday prayers, but it is difficult to independently verify this.

“Inhuman” punishments

Upon their return to power, the Taliban had promised to be more flexible in the application of Sharia, but they have largely returned to the ultra-rigorous interpretation of Islam which had marked their first passage to power.

They then punished in public the perpetrators of theft, kidnapping or adultery, with penalties such as the amputation of a limb and stoning.

“These punishments are banned worldwide. It's inhuman to see that,” Ogai Amil, an Afghan human rights activist, told AFP on Wednesday.

Washington claimed that with this execution, described as "odious", the Taliban were not keeping their promises to the rest of the world.

“This shows, in our view, that the Taliban are seeking to return to their backward and violent practices of the 1990s,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference.

For its part, the UN expressed, through a spokesperson for Secretary General Antonio Guterres, its “deep concern”.

“Our position has never changed, the UN is opposed to the death penalty (...). So we call for a return to the moratorium on capital punishment in the country,” added Stéphanie Tremblay.

Christians persecuted in Afghanistan.  

The Taliban's takeover in August 2021 led the country to 1st place in theGlobal Index of Persecution of Christians 2022 from the NGO Portes Ouvertes. Ranked 2nd since 2018, Afghanistan has seen the level of violence against Christians explode with the arrival of the Taliban at the head of the country.

As pointed out by Open House, the announcement of the literal application of Sharia is terrible news "for all those who do not agree with the ideology of the Taliban". As a reminder, according to “the Taliban leaders, there are 'no Christians' in Afghanistan: any non-Muslim believer is considered an apostate from Islam”. The organization specifies that in Sharia, “leaving Islam is punishable by death”.

CWP (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / Nasir Ahmad Salehi / View from Kabul, Afghanistan

In the International section >

Recent news >