Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on prior to a meeting with his Swedish counterpart at Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark, 04 May 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/Philip Davali DENMARK OUT

Amnesty slams minority repression in India, restrictions on Afghan women

New Delhi/Kabul, Mar 28 (EFE).- India “selectively and viciously” repressed religious minorities, especially Muslims, while the Taliban rule in Afghanistan led to a “devastating rollback of the rights of women and girls” in 2022, Amnesty International said in its annual human rights report released Tuesday.

The London-based human rights organization said criminal laws were used “disproportionately” against religious minorities in India last year.

Muslims were routinely arrested for allegedly promoting enmity between groups and outraging religious feelings by praying in public and consensually marrying Hindu women, among others.

“In May, July and August, scores of Muslims were either charged in criminal cases or with administrative penalties for offering namaz (prayers) in public spaces and private homes,” Amnesty said.

In addition, there were episodes of violence between Muslims and Hindus in several states in 2022.

These communal clashes were followed by the authorities’ unlawful demolition of private property of people suspected of rioting, mostly belonging to economically disadvantaged Muslims, according to the non-profit.

Indian security personnel patrol after clashes broke out during a Hindu religious procession at Jahangipuri, in New Delhi, India, 17 April 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/RAJAT GUPTA

Amnesty also highlighted the use of “repressive” laws, including counterterrorism legislation to “intimidate people and silence dissent.”

Apart from the documented cases of “unlawful force” used by the police, the organization denounced the cases of arbitrary arrests of voices critical of the government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In Afghanistan, new restrictions on women, a rise in extrajudicial executions and systematic intimidation against activists and journalists marked the daily lives of millions of Afghans last year, Amnesty said.

The Taliban’s return to power in August 2021 not only resulted in a withdrawal of the necessary international aid for this already impoverished country, but also brought with it a setback in terms of human rights for the Afghan society, the international organization denounced.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan hold placards during a protest as they demand the Taliban government to allow education for girls, in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province, Pakistan, 24 December 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/FAYYAZ AHMAD

Women were one of the main victims throughout 2022 of this change in power, which brought about the return of the all-powerful Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice as a weapon to almost completely curtail the freedom of Afghans.

“New edicts issued by the Taliban forbade women and girls from traveling without a male chaperone, banned them from public parks and prohibited them from attending secondary schools and university or from working for NGOs,” Amnesty said.

The Taliban police also cracked down on demonstrations, arbitrarily arresting and torturing peaceful protesters, according to the human rights organization.

Amnesty also drew attention to the rise in extrajudicial executions since the arrival of the Taliban, to over 300.

Those executed included people associated with the former government, members of opposition armed groups and those who allegedly did not follow the Taliban’s rules.

The Taliban also began publicly executing and flogging people for crimes, Amnesty denounced.

Taliban stand guard outside Kabul University in Kabul, Afghanistan, 21 December 2022. The ruling Taliban has banned women from attending university in Afghanistan, according to an order issued on 20 December 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/STRINGER

Over 100 people were publicly flogged across the country between Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.

Meanwhile, journalists faced growing restrictions including arbitrary arrest, unlawful detentions and torture in response to reporting that criticized the Taliban causing many of them to self-censor or flee the country, the report said.

Amnesty also emphasized the lack of security in the Asian country, where 2,106 civilians were killed in attacks between August 2021 and June 2022, according to data from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Most of the deaths were caused by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State, which “continued to carry out systematic and targeted attacks on minority ethnic and religious groups.”

“The Taliban authorities failed to investigate these attacks or take adequate steps to protect minorities,” the report said. EFE