Afghanistan’s Taliban flogs 12 people for ‘moral crimes’ including gay sex and adultery

This is the second such incident of punishment by flogging dictated by the Taliban this month in Afghanistan  (AFP via Getty Images)
This is the second such incident of punishment by flogging dictated by the Taliban this month in Afghanistan (AFP via Getty Images)

At least a dozen people have been flogged by the Taliban in Afghanistan this week in a football stadium for committing “moral crimes”.

The punished civilians included three women who were also flogged in front of hundreds of onlookers inside the stadium in eastern Afghanistan’s Logar region.

A Taliban official said the people were held guilty for adultery, robbery and homosexual sex which has been deemed punishable under Sharia law.

The three women were freed and allowed to go home after receiving their punishment, the Taliban spokesperson Omar Mansoor Mujahid told BBC, while some of the men who were also flogged in the stadium were sent to jail afterwards.

It is not immediately clear how many men were sent to the jail.

The Taliban lashed the men and women with around 21-39 strikes each. According to the hardline Islamist group, the maximum number of lashes a person can receive is 39, the report said, citing another Taliban official.

An unverified photo of the stadium where the flogging took place was shared by journalist Habib Khan on Twitter. It showed a large crowd of hundreds of people – suspected to all be men – swarming the periphery, with some even standing on the boundary walls as two figures are seen at the centre of the field.

“This crowd has gathered in a stadium in Afghanistan’s Logar province, not for a game but to watch public execution by the Taliban. Stadiums previously home to sports events are now used for hanging, shooting, stoning, amputation, and flogging by the Taliban,” he tweeted.

This is the second such incident of punishment dictated by the Taliban this month.

Just three days earlier, the country’s Supreme Court said 19 people in northeastern Afghanistan were lashed for adultery, theft and running away from home, in the first official confirmation that the Taliban had resorted to strict implementation of Islamic law after capturing Kabul last year.

Supreme Court official Abdul Rahim Rashid said 10 men and nine women were lashed 39 times each in Taloqan city in northeastern Takhar province on 11 November.

These lashings for their “crimes” took place at the city’s main mosque and in presence of elders, clerics and residents.

In October, a guard was seen in a video chasing and whipping women students protesting for their right to education after being denied entry for not wearing the burqa.

The ultra-conservative Taliban administration has seen a U-turn in its commitments to civil rights, after initially promising a more moderate rule when it seized power last year.

The Taliban’s chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has now said the administration will stick to their strict interpretation of Islamic law or Sharia, which officials have been instructed to implement in their rulings.

Videos and photos of Taliban fighters punishing people for various offences have frequently appeared on social media in the past 15 months, although officials have never confirmed these incidents.

Officials monitoring the developments in Afghanistan have condemned the return of punitive Taliban rule in the country despite claims from the leaders that they will defend the human rights of their nationals.

“The Taliban were condemned for regularly carrying out punishments in public, including floggings and executions at the national stadium in Kabul, during their rule from 1996-2001. To hear that they have re-introduced this barbaric and primitive form of punishment once again, in the 21st century is devastating. There is no such thing as a reformed or changed Taliban,” said Shabnam Nasimi, the former policy special advisor to the minister for Afghan resettlement and minister for refugees.

“It is only a matter of time before stoning is brought back in the very same stadiums they used to brutally execute men and women in the past,” Ms Nasimi told The Independent as she called it “unacceptable for the world to sit and do nothing as the Taliban takes Afghanistan back to the stone age”.