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Afghanistan: Amnesty International Stands By Report On Arrests

Prague, 4 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Amnesty International's representive for Afhganistan is standing firm by the group's claim that the Taliban Islamic militia has arrested up to 1,000 young men in Kabul during the past week.

Abbas Faiz, a spokesman for the London-based human rights group's work in southern Asia, told RFE/RL today that house-to-house searches and arrests are continuing today. He said the arrests mostly involve young men suspected of supporting ousted Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Faiz said Amnesty International could not accept the Taliban's explanation that there have been no arrests in Kabul. He said family members of those missing fear that the men are being forced to clear minefields around Kabul. There has been no independent confirmation of those reports.

Amnesty International charged the Taliban with conducting round ups earlier this week. But the Taliban provisional government said yesterday that there have been no political arrests in Kabul. Taliban information minister Amir Khan Mutaqi said the Islamic militia had merely "interrogated" about 70 people accused of looting.

Faiz said Amnesty International has interviewed witnesses of arrests. Faiz told RFE/RL that his human rights group won't back down on the issue until it receives confirmation that the men are released.

Faiz also said that his latest information suggests that Taliban leaders may relax their ban against women at work and school, which he called "a total violation of human rights of women." But he said there are no indications that the Taliban have put their public statements on the issue into practice.