An Afghan woman faces an armed Taliban man in one of the many compelling images that emerged from protests in Kabul on Tuesday against the hardline group. The Taliban fired shots to disperse hundreds of people who had gathered at several rallies on the streets of the Afghan capital.
At least three rallies were held in an unprecedented show of defiance against the Taliban, known for its brutality, especially towards women, in its last stint in power. Mostly women led one of the protests outside the Pakistan embassy.
The Reuters photo of the gun trained on the Afghan woman, tweeted by Tolo News journalist Zahra Rahimi, had echoes of the defining image of a lone man defiantly blocking tanks at China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“An Afghan woman fearlessly stands face to face with a Taliban armed man who pointed his gun to her chest,” wrote Ms Rahimi.
— Zahra Rahimi (@ZahraSRahimi) September 7, 2021
A growing number of protests have emerged across the country over the past week, with Afghans fearing a repeat of the Taliban’s previous oppressive regime when people were publicly executed in stadiums.
Videos posted on social media showed scores of people marching through the streets, holding up banners and chanting slogans, watched by armed Taliban members.
Journalists alleged that they were roughed up and their IDs and cameras were snatched by the Taliban. The Kabul-based Afghan Independent Journalists Association said 14 journalists — Afghan and foreign — were detained briefly during the protests before being released. Reporters were seen with cuts and bruises to their hands and knees in images online.
Hours after the protests, the Taliban announced their government, which includes UN-blacklisted Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund as Prime Minister and Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar as his deputy.
Observers say the absence of women in the interim Afghan government raise questions about the Taliban’s pronouncements about protecting and respecting the rights of Afghan women and girls.
With inputs from AFP and Reuters