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Afghanistan: Thousands witness Taliban carry out double execution in football stadium

The Taliban regularly carried out public executions, floggings and stonings when they were in power from 1996 to 2001. The UN on Thursday said it was strongly opposed to the death penalty, saying it was inconsistent with the fundamental right to life.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kabul Published on: February 23, 2024 16:10 IST
Afghanistan, Taliban, public execution
Image Source : AP Taliban security personnel in Afghanistan

Kabul: Thousands witnessed the grizzly execution of two convicted men by the Taliban at a football stadium in southeastern Afghanistan on Thursday as the relatives of victims fired the gunshot. The Taliban's Supreme Court ruled that the pair were responsible for the stabbing deaths of two victims in separate attacks, according to a court statement.

The convicted men were identified as Syed Jamal from central Wardak province and Gul Khan from Ghazni. The three lower courts and the Taliban's supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, had ordered the executions in retribution for their purported crimes, according to the court statement.

People crowded outside the stadium in Ghazni's Ali Lala on Thursday, clambering to get in, and religious scholars pleaded with relatives of the victims to forgive the convicts, but they refused. A large number of justice and government officials, as well as residents, witnessed the event, but no one was allowed to bring cellular phones or cameras to the stadium, according to Voice of America.

Abu Abu Khalid Sarhadi, a spokesman for Ghazni police, said that relatives of the victims executed the two men. He did not say what type of guns they used. The executions started shortly before 1 pm and 15 bullets were fired, eight at one of the men and seven at the other. Supreme Court spokesman Abdul Rahim Rashid said the men were shot from behind. Ambulances then took their bodies away. 

Criticism on public executions

The killings were the third and fourth public executions since the Taliban seized power in 2021 amid the chaotic withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan. During their previous rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the Taliban regularly carried out public executions, floggings and stonings.

Since coming to power, the Taliban has carried out 350 floggings, including on women, in front of hundreds of onlookers as per their harsh interpretation of the Islamic law. Female victims were mostly accused of crimes such as adultery and running away from homes.

The United Nations has strongly criticised the Taliban for carrying out public executions, lashings and stonings since seizing power, and called on the country's rulers to halt such practices. The UN on Thursday said it was strongly opposed to the death penalty, saying it was inconsistent with the fundamental right to life. 

Its mission in Afghanistan urged Taliban authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on the death penalty as a step toward its abolition. “UNAMA urges the de facto authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a step towards its abolition,” the mission wrote on X.

The Taliban have rejected the criticism, saying their criminal justice system and governance at large are based on Islamic rules and guidelines. Afghan authorities have imposed sweeping restrictions on women’s rights to education and public life, which include barring women from parks and forbidding girls from attending schools beyond the sixth grade.

(with inputs from AP)

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