Full text of Ahmad Shafi’s article
before it was removed and replaced withan
. Sentences taken from Jason Burke’s
A Taliban Execution Brings Back Painful MemoriesBy Ahmad Shafi, NPRWhen I saw the video
of the Taliban’s latest public execution, it immediately
brought back terrible memories of the first such public execution that Iwitnessed. That one was also the work of the Taliban, and I saw it in person, at
Kabul’s main soccer stadium in 1998.
Back then, I was working for a British journalist, and she asked to go to one of the public executions that had become almost regular weekly events since theTaliban had taken control of Afghanistan two years earlier, in 1996. Everyonewas aware of these executio
ns, but I had avoided going because it didn’t feel
right. Residents of Kabul had already seen enough violence over the previousyears of civil war.When we arrived at the stadium, we were taken onto the field, close to one goalpost. Just after 2 p.m., the stadium began to fill with people. Dozens of kids withcigarettes, snacks and refreshments stacked neatly on carts sold their goods tothe people in the stands.The crowd fell silent when a dark green Toyota pickup truck rolled into thestadium, driving slowly toward the goal post where we were standing. A groupof young Taliban emerged, their distinctive black and white turbans low over their tanned foreheads. A Taliban judge began reading the murder verdict against the condemned man,who was then led out of the pickup truck. He was young, probably in his 20s,and wore a golden skullcap and a shabby tunic.He was forced to kneel in front of the goal post. He had no blindfold and I couldsee his pale face, dark hair and thin features. The Taliban soldiers tied his armsbehind his back, though he made no attempt to escape.He glanced at me and the British reporter, standing just a few paces away. TheTaliban judge announced that the convicted murderer would be punishedaccording to the principle of an eye-for-an-eye. The brother of the murder victimwas handed an AK-47 rifle. There was a short pause and I could hear themurmur in the crowd.