I have become acquainted with one of the former employees of the
prison who has asked me not to be identified. He is an honest man who hates the Taliban
and Jihadis and worked at the prison for a monthly salary of 250,000 Afghanis.
dismissed because he is from Badakhshan -- an ethnic Tajik. One day I asked him to share
some information regarding the situation at the prison. He said the following based on his
Inside view of Pul-e-Charkhi prison after it was captured by the fundamentalists in
Pol-e-Charkhi Prison operates within the structure of the interior ministry and is
supervised directly by the security headquarter of Kabul. Until recently, the prison was
headed by Mawlavi Sharafoddin, who under the name of religion embezzled as much as he
could. After looting the resources of the prison at the price of the lives of many
prisoners, he was replaced by some other Taliban from Kandahar. Providing for the
logistical and health needs of the prison is supposed to be the responsibility of the
interior ministry. But not only the ministry can't provide for the prisonors' needs, they
don't want to provide for the basic needs of the prisoners, in accordance to the general
policy of the Taliban.
In addition to the already-full 18 blocks of the prison, the Taliban opened two new blocks
that were previously assigned to female prisoners. Each block has 116 rooms and in each
room they have crammed 40 to 50 prisoners like animals. In order to control the prison and
maintain its "security," there are 150 Taliban fighters who constantly beat,
flog, torture, humiliate, and sodomize the prisoners.
are more than 2,000 prisoners in the first block, the vast majority of which are small
shop owners and other poor working class people. The Taliban's religious police arrest
them for supposedly violating the religious rules, but these people have committed no
crimes other than being ethnic Tajiks. A few months after being arrested, finally someone
may look into their cases. Most of them are convicted of some cooked-up political crime
and are sentenced to unknown prison terms.
lot of prisoners were arrested from streets during the first Taliban's attack on the
northern regions and were transferred to the Pol-e-Charkhi Prison. After almost three
years they still face an unknown fate, and many of them have become mentally and
physically ill, and some are on the verge of insanity.
Each prisoner receives only a dried-up, 180-gram loaf of bread and every six
prisoners get 450mg of boiled rice in every 24 hours. At least three people die every week
as a result of such poor nutrition. The prison personnel transfer the bodies to a hospital
and then pronounce them dead due to some illness.
The nutritional and Health Situation of the
the Role of the Red Cross and Its Employees
Since the Taliban administration pays no attention to the plight of
prisoners, the Red Cross regularly sends aid to the Pol-e-Charkhi Prison. This includes
such items as rice, beans, oil, sugar, tea, meat, vegetables, fruits, soap, carpet,
jackets, glasses, gasoline, etc. The result of all this aid is that the prison's director
owns cars, apartments, house, and huge sums of money.
only portion of the Red Cross aid that reaches the prisoners is some rice. Every day six
prisoners receive 450mg of boiled rice. Each prisoner receives a bucket that is used as
toilet. The Red Cross has set up a pharmacy with a few doctors, but all the medicine is
stolen and divided between the Red Cross employees and the prison administration. They
record some prisoners' names to falsify that they provide some sort of service.
prisoners are suffering from various diseases such as digestion problems, cholera, etc.
Prisoners are allowed only twice a day, from 8 to 10 in the morning and 4 to 6 in the
afternoon, to use the restrooms built by the Red Cross. All the restrooms are destroyed
because they have been looted by the Taliban.
Those prisoners who pray do not have access to water for abolition. The
Red Cross gives every prisoner a bucket to store water in it, but they use it as a toilet.
They can empty the bucket in the restrooms only when they are allowed to go to the
restrooms. The lack of access to bathrooms and laundries has made the situation of the
rooms fatally dangerous.
Torture and Sodomy in the Prison
There are 150 armed Taliban guards at the prison who are located at
different posts. They torture the prisoners just as a way to entertain themselves. They
stop the prisoners for no reason and insult and threaten them, and conduct their religious
inquisition. Those Taliban who are in charge of torturing attack the prisoners and flog
them and beat them up to the extent that the prisoners loose conscientiousness.
justify their actions, sometimes they start asking religious questions during the torture.
Sodomizing young men happens on a daily basis. They enter prisoners' rooms with different
excuses, and take the young prisoners with them for supposedly cleaning the restrooms or
sweeping the floor or running other errands.
They take them to their rooms and tents and rape them. The young men never
expose this despicable act to avoid the shame and stigma. It is worth mentioning that
sodomy is prevalent in all of the Taliban's posts in cities.
The Prison Store and the Taliban Robbery
Since the situation of food in the prison is so horrible, those
prisoners who can afford it, buy their food from the prison store so that they can survive
for a while. During the first few days, if the prisoners can send a letter from the prison
to their families, they can save their lives, otherwise they have to expect a gradual
friend who was telling me all this, said that he hand his other friends in only two weeks
sent 700 letters from the prison to the prisoners' families. The prison store is also run
according to the Taliban's "religious" rules. The store is supervised by the
prison director, and he puts prices on the goods as he wishes.
example a box of matches that costs 500 Afghanis is priced at 1,500 Afghanis; a cake that
costs 8,000 Afghanis is priced at 35,000 Afghanis; and one kilogram of sugar that costs
18,000 Afghanis is priced at 40,000 Afghanis. With such extortions under complete legal
impunity, the prison director can amass hundreds of millions of Afghanis in a few months.
The Pol-e-Charkhi prison, and also other prisons, are good venues for the ignorant Taliban
to become rich. Whether this is allowed under religion or not is irrelevant and can be
taken care of by a fatwa from their leaders.
Arab and Pakistani staff are playing a key role in conducting tortures and interrogations
and running the prison. Some Pakistanis enter the prisoners' rooms during the night and
start beating up the prisoners for no reason.
is only a game for the Pakistani Taliban.