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  • Writer's pictureAfghan Witness

Protests in Nuristan over ‘mistreatment and discrimination’

AW records indicate this is the first protest in Nuristan province.

On May 16, 2023, Afghanistan International shared a video showing a large crowd protesting against the Taliban in Nuristan province. Tajudeen Soroush, their senior International Correspondent, also shared additional footage of the protest, which showed a large crowd surrounding a Taliban vehicle and remonstrating with the occupants. The protests purportedly occurred on May 13 and reportedly resulted in clashes between the local population and the Taliban. Although some of the footage seemed to show aggressive behaviour from protestors, no injuries or victims were reported.

According to various posts from Afghanistan International, the demonstrations were reportedly organised by Pashayi tribesmen in the Nurgaram district of Nuristan province and opposed alleged Taliban mistreatment and ethnic discrimination under the local Taliban commander, Maulvi Saadullah. The man speaking in the video claimed that the residents had faced mistreatment and unlawful arrests by the Taliban.

Another video showed a crowd of residents gathering and chanting slogans against a group of Taliban. As seen in the video, the residents raised complaints about the alleged ethnic prejudices and the torture of employees of the former government. Panjshir Province News, an Afghan media outlet, also shared the recording and remarked that the people of Afghanistan do not want the Taliban and their “humiliation, cruelty, and oppression”.

The videos showed a large number of civilians protesting against the Taliban. The protests mark the first verified unrest in Nuristan province since the Taliban's rise to power in August 2021. As seen below, three recorded videos were verified and geolocated by AW investigators to Nurgaram city in the Nurgaram district, Nuristan province.

Figure: Geolocation of user-generated content shared on Twitter, showing a confrontation between the Taliban and local men in Nurgaram, Nuristan province [34.961505, 70.390606]

According to the United Nations, 85% of the Afghan population is estimated to live below the poverty line since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. Increasing economic, humanitarian, and human rights crises have the potential to combine and foment negative sentiment towards the Taliban.

While AW has recorded numerous protests since the Taliban takeover, these have largely been organised and centred on Afghan women and the restrictions they face. In May, other general protests and poppy eradication clashes were recorded by AW, indicating the potential for localised protests on community-focused issues, particularly relating to livelihood or economic pressures and perceived discrimination under the Taliban.



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