On August 15, 2021, the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, following a lightning offensive launched after the withdrawal of American forces. As the first anniversary of this event approaches, around forty women tried to demonstrate in Kabul (Afghanistan) to demand the right to work and education on Saturday 13 August. They hardly had time. Five minutes into the march, a group of Taliban fighters dispersed them by firing into the air in bursts.

United behind the slogan “Bread, work and freedom”, the demonstrators had made an appointment in front of the Ministry of Education. They carried in particular a banner on which one could read: “August 15 is a black day”in reference to the date of the capture of Kabul in 2021 by the Taliban. “Justice, justice. We’re sick of ignorance!” they also chanted, for just a few minutes. Because the rally gave rise to a violent and immediate reaction from the Taliban.

Protesters chased and beaten

Men in military uniform and armed with assault rifles notably blocked a crossroads in front of the demonstrators and started shooting in the air for long seconds. One of them simulated a shot by aiming at the demonstrators, noted an AFP journalist. Some protesters then took refuge in nearby shops where they were chased and beaten with rifle butts by Islamist fighters.

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The Taliban, despite their initial promise of a more flexible regime than when they came to power between 1996 and 2001, impose drastic restrictions on women. On March 23, they closed high schools and colleges for girls, just hours after their long-announced reopening. In early May, the Taliban’s supreme leader ordered women to wear full-face veils in public, preferably the burqa. Women are also barred from many government jobs and banned from traveling alone outside of their city.