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Afghans Condemn Taliban’s Public Execution

An anti-Taliban protest in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
An anti-Taliban protest in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Afghans have denounced the recent public execution of a university student by the insurgent from the hard-line Taliban movement.

Faizul Rehman, a fourth-year student at Kabul Polytechnic University, was publicly hanged in the central Afghan province of Maidan Wardak on December 2 after Taliban militants abducted him from a highway a day earlier.

Activist Hamida Wardak called the execution an inexcusable crime. She said Rehman, a father of two, had borrowed money to pursue his dream of becoming an engineer.

“He was not a spy, a usurper, or a killer. He was just a student who wanted a better future,” she told journalists between sobs in Kabul. “I call on the government to provide justice and protection to his family.”

Ahmad Zia Langari, a commissioner with Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, said nobody can be allowed to claim the lives of Afghans.

“This is completely outside the law,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “A person can be hanged only after following the due process under Afghan law.”

Rehman was on his way to visit his family in Chak district of central Maidan Wardak Province, which abuts the Afghan capital, Kabul.

According to a statement by the Taliban’s shadow governor in the province, Rehman was hanged after he admitted to his role in the killing of Dr. Mirwais, who had led Taliban intelligence operations in the area. The statement was cited by the pro-Taliban Nunn Asia website.

But Abdul Rahman Mangal, a spokesman for the Maidan Wardak governor, said Rehman was innocent.

“Faizul Rehman was completely innocent. He was not associated with the government in any form,” Mangal told Radio Free Afghanistan. “He was just a student traveling to see his family.”

Mangal said Mirwais was in charge of intelligence operations for the Haqqani network, an ultra-violent arm of the Taliban that is often accused of conducting high-profile attacks in the capital, Kabul.

“We are investigating the case to nab the culprits so that we can serve justice to the victim’s family,” he said.

Nazar Muhammad Mutmaeen, a Kabul-based former Taliban official who often attempts to explain insurgent positions, called on the Taliban to investigate the hanging.

In a December 4 article on the Nunn Asia website, Mutmaeen hinted that Rehman and Mirwais knew each other.

“It is claimed that both came from the same village. One was a Taliban member, while the other worked for the National Directorate of Security (Afghan intelligence agency),” he wrote. “But both were in contact. It is said that the engineer [Rehman] carried a letter from the Taliban that allowed him to move freely [within the insurgent-controlled region].”

Mutmaeen said the Taliban accused Rehman of being involved in their comrade’s killing because he had talked to Mirwais over the telephone on the day he was killed.

“The Taliban need to investigate this issue in-depth,” he wrote. “If it happened just because of suspicion over a telephone call, it will pave the way for more killings.”

The Taliban now control large swathes of rural Afghan provinces and hold courts in the regions they control.

In recent months, Taliban courts have condemned several Afghan judges and soldiers to death by hanging.

Since the demise of their regime in 2001, the insurgents have executed civilians they accuse of spying for Kabul or international forces.

The hard-line movement has also meted out public stonings or lashings of those found to have committed adultery or had sex outside marriage.

-- With reporting by AFP