The United Nations has asked the Taliban to provide information about two more female activists allegedly detained by the group this week, bringing the number of missing persons to four this year.
Since returning to power in August, the Taliban have cracked down on dissent by violently dispersing women’s demonstrations, detaining critics and beating local journalists who reported on protests.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said late Thursday that it had obtained “urgent information” about the reported detentions of two more female activists by the Taliban in Kabul this week.
“The UN reiterates its call for the release of all ‘disappeared’ female activists and family members,” it said on Twitter.
US special envoy to Afghanistan Rina Amiri also called on the Taliban to respect women’s rights.
“If the Taliban seek legitimacy from the Afghan people and the world, they must respect the human rights of Afghans – especially for women,” she said on Twitter.
UNAMA has not released the names of the two missing female activists this week, but another rights activist told AFP that Zahra Mohammadi and Mursal Ayar had been arrested by the Taliban.
“Zahra, a dentist, used to work in a clinic. She was arrested along with her father,” the activist said, asking AFP not to reveal her name.
Ayar was arrested on Wednesday after a male colleague asked for her address so he could hand over her salary, the activist said.
“That’s how she was trapped. The Taliban found her and arrested her.”
The latest arrests come less than a month after a pair of female activists – Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and Parwana Ibrahimkhel – went missing after participating in a protest in Kabul.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern for them and four of their relatives, all of whom are still missing.
The Taliban deny any knowledge of their whereabouts and say they are investigating the matter.
The Taliban have promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
But the new regime was quick to bar women from most government jobs and close most high schools for girls.