Taliban sentence 3 Afghans to lengthy terms, flogging for political activism

ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s Islamist Taliban rulers Thursday sentenced two people to 15 years each for engaging in political activity, while a third person was flogged 30 times and jailed for similar charges.  

The de facto government in Kabul, yet to be formally recognized by the international community, has banned all political parties and activities nationwide, deeming them as unIslamic.

The Taliban Supreme Court said in a statement that Thursday’s judicial actions were carried out in the southern province of Kandahar. Without further details, it said a fourth individual was sentenced to eight months for “moral corruption.”

The reclusive Taliban supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, lives and governs the country from Kandahar, which is known as the birthplace and political base of his fundamentalist group.

“There is no Sharia basis for political parties to operate in the country. They do not serve the national interest, nor does the nation appreciate them,” Abdul Hakim Sharaee, the Taliban minister of justice, said while announcing the ban on political activities last year.

Until the Taliban seized power in August 2021, around 70 major and small political parties were formally registered with the ministry.  

Akhundzada is governing the impoverished, war-ravaged South Asian nation through his strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. He has banned girls from attending schools beyond the sixth grade and forbidden most Afghan women from public and private workplaces.  

The Taliban have carried out flogging of hundreds of men and women in sports stadiums in the presence of onlookers for what they call “moral crimes” such as adultery, running away from home, and robbery. Several convicted murderers have also been executed publicly.  

Late last month, Akhundzada said he was determined to enforce the Islamic criminal justice system across Afghanistan, including the public stoning of women for adultery. The United Nations decried his announcement as disturbing.   

The U.N. and other global monitors have consistently criticized worsening human rights conditions after the Taliban takeover, demanding that they reverse their restrictions on women and civil liberty.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan as the United States and NATO withdrew all their troops in August 2021 after nearly two decades of war with Taliban insurgents.

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