The Taliban terrorist group declared a general amnesty Tuesday, saying women can work and go to school and university.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with full dignity and honesty has announced a complete amnesty for all Afghanistan, especially those who were with the opposition or supported the occupiers for years and recently,” Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, stated on Afghan state television.
The Taliban called their new regime the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a name they previously used when they controlled the country from 1996 to 2001.
The statement was greeted with skepticism amid reports of revenge killings and other brutal tactics in areas that the group seized in recent days.
Samangani also said that women could work and study, a departure from the Taliban’s rule 20 years ago, during which women were largely confined to their homes.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan doesn’t want the women to be the victims anymore,” he said. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to provide women with [an] environment to work and study, and the presence of women in different (government) structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values.”
He didn’t explain what he meant by Islamic law.
Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesperson, told Sky News Tuesday that allowing women to attend schools is its “policy.”
Shaheen said women could attend schools from primary to higher education, including universities. He also mentioned that thousands of schools in Afghanistan are operating now.
“We will be committed to the women’s rights to education, and also to work, to freedom of speech, in the light of our Islamic rules,” Shaheen continued.
“We believe in freedom of speech, and also the right of people [to] education and work. And also that all people, all citizens, should be equal in the sight of law. And there should not be any kind of discrimination. That is some of the general principles that we believe, and also the world believes in that.”
The recent remarks from the Taliban showed a willingness to portray itself as a more moderate regime in the hope of gaining the international community’s recognition.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States would recognize a new Afghan government when certain conditions are met.
“The fact is that a future Afghan government that upholds the basic rights of its people, that doesn’t harbor terrorists, and that protects the basic rights of its people, including the basic fundamental rights of half of its population, its women and girls, that is a government that we would be able to work with,” Price said in Monday’s press briefing.
Price stressed that the statement from the U.N. Security Council on Monday reflects the agreement of the international community, which says that a “sustainable end to the conflict can only be achieved through an inclusive, just, durable, and realistic political settlement that upholds human rights, including for women, children, and minorities.”
Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.