BRUSSELS: The EU on Sunday said it was “particularly concerned” about worsening conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan after the country’s ruling Taliban violently broke up a women’s rally.

Taliban fighters on Saturday fired in the air and beat up protesters taking part in a women’s “bread, work and freedom” march in Kabul. Some women were chased into nearby shops and hit with rifle butts.

The violence underscored the Taliban’s increasing restrictions, especially on women, since they seized back control of Afghanistan a year ago, on August 15, 2021.

“The EU is particularly concerned by the fate of Afghan women and girls who have seen their freedoms, rights and access to basic services such as education being systematically denied,” the office of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“The EU reiterates that Afghanistan must adhere to the international treaties to which it is a State Party, including by upholding and protecting economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, and allow for full, equal and meaningful representation and participation of all Afghans in the governing of the country.”

It also stressed that “Afghanistan must also not pose a security threat to any country” per UN Security Council resolutions. The Taliban have claimed having had no knowledge about the presence of Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, after the US announced August 2 it had killed him in Kabul with a drone strike.

The EU statement noted that the bloc’s supply of basic humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan’s people was contingent on “a stable, peaceful and prosperous” country and the Taliban upholding human rights principles, “in particular the rights of women and girls, children and minorities”.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2022

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