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DATE=8/18/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=TALEBAN PUNISHMENT NUMBER=5-44082 BYLINE=SCOTT ANGER DATELINE=KABUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 sun. 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 left foot. Khalil Ullah watches from the first row of seats and says he has attended four other amputations here in the stadium. ///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. ///AHMAD ACT/// 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. ///END ACT/// 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 relatives. (SIGNED) NEB/SA/KL 18-Aug-1999 08:09 AM EDT (18-Aug-1999 1209 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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