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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 17:28 GMT
Afghan rights under spotlight

Taleban tank The Taleban have been criticised for mistreating opponents

The outcome of the hijack of the Afghan plane has put the Taleban movement's poor human rights record under the spotlight.

Human rights groups and aid organisations who know the situation in the country say there are real dangers facing any asylum-seekers who go back to Afghanistan.

These people could be seen as traitors and could be in real danger
Chris Johnson of Oxfam
Chris Johnson, who represents the aid organisation Oxfam in Kabul, told the BBC there was a need for concern about those who found themselves on the plane, and then asked for asylum once in the UK.

"Those people, when they come back to this country, could very easily be seen as having turned their back on Afghanistan and been traitors to Islam, and could be in real danger as a result, and I would be very worried about them," she said.

She explained that the Taleban have a very clear vision of the kind of state that they wish to create.

"Inevitably they will see people who have left the country and who have asked for asylum in a non-Islamic, western, country as traitors to that vision."

Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement has faced widespread criticism for its treatment of political opponents, ethnic minorities and women.

Afghan women with child Women's rights have come under scrutiny
Reports by groups such as Amnesty International have highlighted problems in all three areas.

In March last year, Amnesty said that the Taleban had arrested some 200 people for peaceful protests.

It said some had been severely tortured and even killed.

Human rights groups and aid organisations have also pointed to the Taleban's decision to ban women from working and severely restrict access to education, saying it has badly affected their economic and social welfare.

The Taleban follow a strict interpretation of Islam, and have instituted a policy of Islamic punishments in areas they control, including flogging, amputation and death by stoning.

They argue that in the lawlessness created by two decades of war, harsh measures are needed to ensure security.

However, it is another factor which has contributed to their poor image in the eyes of other countries.

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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Asylum: What now for the hostages and hijackers?
11 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Safety fears for hijack plane
10 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Analysis: Afghan hijack aftermath
10 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Asylum pleas 'will not be met'
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Hijack timetable
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Hotel luxury for hijack passengers
10 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Afghanistan seeks return of plane
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Calm ending to hijack

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