Crime Justice

Video of Taliban commander beating child in Ghor sparks outrage

By Omar

This video clip, recorded by a Taliban fighter in Khak-e-Bala in late March near Firoz Koh, the Ghor provincial capital, shows a local Taliban commander violently beating a 10-year-old boy with a stick. [Social media]

HERAT -- A video clip circulated on social media that shows a Taliban commander in Ghor province beating a 10-year-old boy with a stick after his legs were bound has provoked a furious backlash.

The clip, recorded by a Taliban fighter in Khak-e-Bala, near Firoz Koh, the provincial capital, shows a Taliban commander violently assaulting a child.

The incident took place in late March, according to Zalmai Karimi, a spokesman for the Ghor governor. The exact date of the incident is unknown.

"Mullah Saber is a local Taliban commander who operates in a number of villages within 30km of Firoz Koh," Karimi said on April 2. "His main activity is the torture of local residents and extortion of money from them."

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This video screenshot shows a local Taliban commander in Ghor province who beats a 10-year boy with a stick for arguing with his mother.

"This child was brutally tortured and punished by Mullah Saber," he added.

In the clip, the child can be seen pleading with the Taliban commander to stop his assault, but his pleas and cries are ignored and the beating continues.

This incident reveals the extreme brutality of the Taliban, said Firoz Koh resident Noor Mohammad Habibi.

"The Taliban have mercy on no one," he said. "Women, men, seniors, youth, children -- it does not matter to them."

"The Taliban ignored the voice of an innocent child being tortured," said Firoz Koh activist Mohammad Gul Poya, describing the incident as an "extreme form of brutality".

Wherever the Taliban have gone, violence, torture, killing and chaos have become common, he said.

'An anti-Islamic act'

The perpetrators of the beating demonstrated that they have no understanding of the precepts of Islam, as the torture of civilians and children is an anti-Islamic act, say religious scholars in Ghor.

The rights of children and respect for their dignity have a very important place in Islam, said Firoz Koh religious scholar Mawlawi Mohammad Hashim Azizi.

"Those who abuse, beat and torture children are rejected by Islam, and these acts are forbidden," he said, pointing out that such acts represent a great sin.

"Islam has given much respect to children," Azizi said. "The Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH) treated children with kindness and never raised his hand against a child."

Islam calls children a blessing (rahmat), said Mawlawi Shamsuddin Mohammadi, a religious scholar in Firoz Koh.

The Taliban assault captured on video and other similar incidents "have no basis in Islam," he said.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) also called the Taliban's torture of a child an unforgivable crime and an inhumane act.

The recent incident is being investigated thoroughly, and the perpetrators must be punished, said Mubarak Shah Sherzada, acting director of AIHRC's Ghor office.

"The beating and torture of children are a clear violation of their human rights," he said, noting that children do not have the ability to defend themselves and that no one has the right to exploit this to harm them or endanger their lives.

The Taliban must change their behaviour towards children and innocent civilians in areas under their control and not further violate human rights, he said.

Firoz Koh activist Mohammad Haroon Saghari accused the Taliban of spreading fear and oppression in area villages by targeting the poor and helpless.

"Residents are tired of the Taliban's oppression but cannot stand up to them for fear of their lives," he said. "By creating fear among the public, the Taliban try to create a [favourable] environment for their activities in the villages."

"Taliban leaders must be brought to justice for the behaviour of their fighters and the oppression of civilians," Saghari said.

"Taliban leaders every day give a very innocent picture of themselves in different countries, but their militants commit crimes of all kinds," he said.

Begging for mercy

The video of the child being assaulted is not the only one showing the Taliban's abuse of children.

Another video filmed in Khak-e-Bala village shows Taliban insurgents beating up three youths.

Holding a handkerchief to his mouth, one of the youths pleads with a Taliban fighter in the video, telling him he is in pain with a toothache and begging him to stop. But the militant continues beating him, regardless.

The Taliban commit such crimes on a daily basis but keep a low profile when their crimes become public, said Karimi, the Ghor governor's spokesman.

The militants hold kangaroo courts in districts under their control "and beat and torture civilians as they please", he said, noting that residents remain quiet about the Taliban's behaviour out of fear for their lives.

The Taliban's kangaroo courts have handed down harsh judgments to women and children, who "do not have the ability to defend themselves", said Sherzada, the acting director of AIHRC's Ghor office.

Human rights watchdogs do not have a presence in the villages, women's rights are lacking, and the voice of those who have suffered under the Taliban's oppression cannot be heard, Sherzada added.

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Which part of this country is alright that you came and wrote a long report on this video? On average, more than 100 armed forces of the country are killed every day. Between fifty to one hundred dissidents of the government may also get killed. At least fifty civilians are killed. When you add it all up, the number will be more than two hundred. By God, believe me the situation in the country is very critical. People faced mental illness. Every day there is war, killing, cruelty and terror.

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This kind of cruelty is going on in almost all areas of Afghanistan. Taliban and police both commit oppression. You saw a few days ago that several border police were arrested and fired by the Ministry of Interior for beating men and women. Two days ago, a policeman in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, shot a defendant in front of his three-year-old daughter. The dead person just quarreled with another person and the police brought him to the court. Another hundred years are needed so that the people of Afghanistan reform themselves. All the people of this country faced psychological problems as a result of the forty years of war. They get angry quickly and kill a human by a mere guilt. I think the main reason for this problem is that the various heavy and light weapons, which were used in this country, have had a negative effect on the psyche of the people. These people need psychotherapy for at least another forty years in order to recover. Russia and America have to pay compensation for all this, because they were responsible for all the wars.

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