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Afghan embassy says videos show ‘extreme violence’ by Taliban against civilians, officials

This article contains reference to graphic video content. 

The Afghan embassy in Canberra says videos it has obtained show “extreme violence, heartbreaking atrocities” committed by the Taliban against civilians and government officials. 

“The videos show the extreme violence, heartbreaking atrocities, and the horrible war crimes committed by the Taliban in the areas where they have recently entered,” the embassy said in a statement. 

The graphic material also includes footage of what the embassy said are two Afghan government officials who were detained and then shot dead by the Taliban. 

The embassy said the videos were obtained in recent weeks as the Taliban claimed to have gained control of 85 per cent of the country, including the key Spin Boldak border crossing with Pakistan.

Officials reported heavy clashes on Friday with an Afghan commander saying that Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed during his work covering the fighting near the border crossing. 

“Most of the serious crimes committed by the Taliban in the areas which they have recently seized are not reflected in the media since the Taliban have not allowed the media or compelled those in the region to evacuate,” the embassy said.

‘Violated human rights law’

The series of videos have been seen by SBS News, although their location and authenticity cannot be cross-verified.

Afghan soldiers, an elderly man, women and children are shown being subjected to violence in public, including whipping, the removal of hands, beheading and fatal gun shots.

The Afghan embassy in Canberra says it is concerned about the Taliban’s use of violence in newly seized territories, including reports of the arbitrary killing of civilians. 

“The Taliban’s behaviour in areas under their control has shown that basic human rights are not a matter of concern to them,” the embassy said. 

“(The) Taliban’s distorted interpretation of Islamic Sharia is persistent and has not changed since establishment. They have imposed their version of so-called Islamic law which has violated human rights law and principles.

“The Taliban’s behaviour clearly indicates their vision and ambition for the return of an Emirate with no difference whatsoever from the 90s.”

William Maley, emeritus professor at The Australian National University, said the decision by the Afghan embassy in Canberra to come forward with the graphic videos shows the situation in Afghanistan is increasingly precarious. 

“What the Afghan government is seeking to do by this is to alert the wider world to the scale of horror is likely to continue to emerge in Afghanistan as the Taliban run rampant,” he told SBS News. 

“It is normally something an embassy doesn’t have to do because it normally doesn’t confront such kind of problems within its own territory.

“But there is no doubt that in sending out such warnings, the Afghan embassy is working squarely within the provisions of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations 1961.”

A delegation of Afghan political leaders is in Qatar this weekend for stalled peace talks with Taliban negotiators.

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There have been little signs of substantive progress as the Taliban continues to capture more territory, ahead of the completion of the foreign troop withdrawal by September.

Foreign troops have been in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, following the US-led campaign launched in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Professor Maley said the dynamics of the political peace process has been undermined by ongoing clashes around Afghanistan – and the actions by the US.

“What the Afghan government, and multiple other sources are putting into the public domain, is credible evidence that we’re not dealing with the kind of force on the ground with which a power-sharing agreement can be readily struck. 

“The Taliban are hunting for total power. They are not squeamish about the means used to intimidate each and every component of the Afghan population to achieve that objective. The sooner Western countries twig to this, the better.”

Afghans who assisted Australian soldiers seek protection

Hundreds of Afghan locals who worked as interpreters and security guards for Australian troops are seeking protection from reprisal attacks by the Taliban. 

Death threats have been issued to a number of those seeking asylum in Australia. 

The Australian government said it has no plans to include Afghan civilians who assisted Australian soldiers on evacuation flights that are being planned by the United States in the next fortnight.

Professor Maley said there are concerns the Australian government is moving too slowly to respond to calls for protection. 

“There are certainly questions to be asked of the Australian government about the speed with which – for its own reasons – it is moving to offer protective escape to people who are at grave danger by virtue of prior association with Australia.”

The Taliban insists it is not targeting Afghans who worked with foreign forces. 

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen claimed no death threats have been issued. 

“If they are not with the foreign forces and they have stopped working with them and they have opted for living a normal life in Afghanistan, we have no problem with that,” he told ABC radio on Friday.

“They are secure, there will be no threat posed to their life, they can live their normal life.”

The Taliban has capitalised on the final withdrawal of foreign troops, seizing territory and imposing the same kind of strict edicts that preceded the US-led invasion after the September 11 attacks.

Letters issued to a local imam in a remote district in Afghanistan’s north banned females attending the bazaar without a male companion, and also outlawed the shaving of beards for men. 

The Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 based on a strict interpretation of the Koran, have claimed they will protect human rights, particularly those of women, but only according to “Islamic values”.

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