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Protesting Afghan women demand to deny any foreign recognition of the Taliban

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A group of Afghan women protested in Kabul on Saturday, defying a crackdown on dissent, to urge foreign countries not to formally recognize the Taliban government before a United Nations summit next week.

Protesters opposed to creeping restrictions on women’s rights have been beaten or arrested since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, and security forces have fired shots into the air to break up some rallies.

However, small groups of women continued to organize sporadic gatherings.

About 25 women marched through a residential area of ​​the Afghan capital on Saturday ahead of a summit in Doha that the United Nations says will discuss the “durable way forward” for the country.

The women chanted during the march, which did not last more than 10 minutes and passed without a confrontation with the security forces, “recognizing the Taliban … a violation of women’s rights.”

Other chants include “The Afghan people are hostages of the Taliban” and “We will fight, we will die, and we will take our rights.”

No country has yet recognized the legitimacy of the government since the Taliban returned to power after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in 2021.

The former Taliban government that ruled from 1996 to 2001 was only given official recognition by three countries – Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Diplomats, NGOs and aid agencies are deeply divided on the issue.

Some believe that the international community might urge the Taliban authorities to reverse the restrictions on women’s rights by hanging onto the prospect of their recognition.

Others say even discussing it gives the Taliban some legitimacy at a time when they are cutting women out of public life.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said last week that the Doha meeting, which begins on Monday, could see envoys discussing “small steps” on the road to recognition, albeit with conditions.

“There are some who think this will never happen. There are others who say, well, it should happen,” Muhammad said in a talk at Princeton University.

The Taliban clearly want recognition…and that’s the leverage we have.”

The United Nations announced that the “de facto authorities” in Afghanistan had not been invited to the Doha conference.

“Recognition is not an issue,” a spokesman for the international organization said on Friday.

Protester Shamil Tawana Nasiri, 26, told Agence France-Presse that any discussion of official recognition would “give motivation to the Taliban”.

“For those of us who are being oppressed and our rights are being oppressed, it only adds to our fears,” she said.

The United Nations will also provide an update on the relief operations, which have been hampered by the Taliban government’s order to ban Afghan women from working for the international organization, at a meeting on Monday.

It said it faced an “apocalyptic choice” about continuing its huge operations in the country of 38 million people.

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