On December 24, 2022, Taliban security forces reportedly used force against students and other demonstrators protesting a ban on women’s enrollment in higher education institutions that was recently ordered by the Taliban (see report). Taliban forces reportedly detained as many as six women and two men who participated in the protest.
A group of demonstrators—reportedly mostly students from local higher education institutions—gathered near an education office in the city of Taloqan, in Takhar province, to protest the ban. They were reportedly peaceful, chanting slogans, including “education is our right,” and demanding admission to higher education institutions. Protesters claimed that Taliban security forces beat them and detained as many as eight people during the protest. AMU TV reported that three of the protesters were released later that day.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about state authorities using force against and detaining students and others peacefully exercising the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly—conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to respect and refrain from restricting or punishing the nonviolent exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)