INTRO: Since first occupying Afghanistan's capital
almost three years ago, the hard-line Islamic Taleban
movement has imposed a number of edicts which have
drawn criticism from international human rights
organizations and many Western countries for their
harshness. Among the most controversial of the
Taleban's actions have been the punishments it
inflicts on criminals. Taleban leaders say the
punishments are based on Islamic justice, while
critics say they show the barbarity of the Taleban.
VOA's Scott Anger recently witnessed Taleban-style of
punishment and files this report.
///SOUNDS OF STADIUM///
TEXT: People begin to fill Kabul's sports stadium on
a warm Friday afternoon. Children selling corn and
apples push their way through the crowds. Spectators
hold up scarves to shield their eyes from the glaring
At the stadium's entrance, an armed Taleban guard
directs women into their own section, separate from
the men. After the women enter, he padlocks the door
behind them. Under Taleban rules, women are not
allowed to sit with any man who is not a blood-
relative or their husband.
Radio Shariat, the official state radio, announced the
night before that punishment would be carried out at
the stadium after prayers on Friday, Afghanistan's
official day of rest, but not everyone in the crowd
heard the message.
Mohammad Daoud says he showed up at the stadium to
watch a football (soccer) match between two of
Afghanistan's most popular teams.
///DAOUD ACT IN DARI, FADE UNDER///
Unfortunately, he says he did not know justice would
be carried out instead. He says he did not expect to
see the Taleban punish someone today -- or else he
would not have come.
///AMB: ANNOUNCER UNDER TRACK///
As a van drives into the stadium, an announcer
explains over the stadium's speakers that the five
criminals about to be punished were all found guilty
of highway robbery. He then announces what punishment
the Koran prescribes for the crime: the amputation of
a hand and a foot.
An armed guard leads one man out of the vehicle and
lays him down on the dusty ground. A group of people
in surgical clothes administer anesthesia, wait a few
minutes, then begin to amputate the convict's right
hand. Once it is removed, the wound is cleaned and
bandaged and the team repeats the procedure on his
Khalil Ullah watches from the first row of seats and
says he has attended four other amputations here in
///ULLAH ACT IN PASHTO, ESTABLISH AND FADE///
He says this kind of punishment has stopped most crime
in Afghanistan. He says in the past, there had been a
lot of crime and no one was safe. Mr. Ullah says
thieves used to rob houses at gun point but now --
since the Taleban have come - no one would think to
commit such crimes.
Under the Taleban's interpretation of Islamic law and
punishment, someone convicted of theft must have their
right hand and left foot amputated. A person
convicted of murder faces the death penalty,
administered by the victim's relatives. Those
convicted of sodomy and rape have a brick wall toppled
over on them. If they survive -- which few do -- they
are set free.
During the last year, the Taleban says about 60
amputations have been carried out in five of
Afghanistan's provinces. Over the same period, 25
people have been executed. So far, no women have
faced amputation since the Taleban gained control of
the capital in 1996.
The chief of Afghanistan's Military Court, Saeed
Abdulah Rahman, says Islam calls for public punishment
and the Taleban are following Islam.
///RAHMAN ACT IN PASHTO, FADE UNDER///
He says if punishment is carried out in public,
hundreds will see it and learn from it - but if it is
carried out in a room, only a few people may see it.
Critics have condemned many of the punishments imposed
by Taleban as inhumane and a violation of human
rights. Questions have also been raised about the
fairness of the Taleban's legal system and the way it
deals with people accused of crimes.
But Mr. Rahman says by punishing criminals, the
Taleban are preventing crime and, therefore,
protecting the human rights of other Afghans.
But others say that the Taleban rulers are emphasizing
one aspect of the Koran and not paying attention to
others. Professor Anees Ahmad, from the Islamic
University in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, says
under Islam, a government must first provide healthy
economic conditions for its people before harsh
punishment can be administered.
And after everything provided to him by the
state and society and family, the person still
wants to go around and commit theft, the (holy)
Koran (then) tells us that you have to use law
to keep justice in society.
Afghanistan's economy and infrastructure have
collapsed after 20 years of war. Beggars roam the
streets of the capital, Kabul, where the average
monthly income is less than seven dollars.
The Taleban, who control about 90 percent of the
country, have focused most of their resources on
dislodging the remaining opposition who still control
a part of northern Afghanistan.
Back in the stadium, as an ambulance takes away the
amputees and the crowd of about one-thousand people
disperses, the door to the women's section is
unlocked, allowing them to leave with their male
18-Aug-1999 08:09 AM EDT (18-Aug-1999 1209 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list