Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has joined world diplomats and politicians in condemning a new mandate from the Taliban requiring Afghan women to cover their faces in public.
The Taliban on Saturday ordered that all Afghan women must wear a full-body covering, including the face, a return to restrictions first implemented in the 1990s.
Thomas-Greenfield, speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, was asked by host Jake Tapper if the Taliban’s latest decree showed whether it was a problem that the U.S. withdrew its troops from Afghanistan last fall before a “competent government” was established.
“It shows again what the Taliban are capable of,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“We said from day one, we will judge them by their actions, not their words. And these actions, on Mother’s Day, I think, sends a very chilling message across the world.”
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan from the U.S.-backed government last August as the Pentagon was still in the process of evacuating from the country.
Since then, the Islamic fundamentalist group has issued several orders restricting the rights of women and girls, including the closure of schools and preventing them from playing sports.
Thomas-Greenfield, who also serves as president of the U.N. Security Council, said Sunday that the United States has “done everything possible” to help Afghan women.
“What they did today is unconscionable. And I am sure that we can expect more from them. And it just redoubles our commitment to supporting Afghan women moving forward,” she said.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on Twitter that he was “alarmed” by the Taliban’s announcement that women must cover their faces in public and leave home only in cases of necessity.
“I once again urge the Taliban to keep their promises to Afghan women & girls, and their obligations under international human rights law,” he said.
Sima Bahous, the executive director of U.N. Women, also joined in the condemnation of the Taliban’s order and said she was “gravely concerned” about the decree, which is a “further escalation of restrictions on women and girls.”
“Freedom of movement is a fundamental human right. It is an absolute prerequisite for women’s ability to exercise the full range of their rights and to be active participants in society,” she said. “Where women’s rights are constrained, everyone is diminished.”
After the Taliban reneged on a promise to reopen schools for girls above sixth grade, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet blasted the Taliban as “de facto authorities” and said the regime would find it difficult to prove itself as a “respected” government on the international stage.
Yolanda Díaz, the second deputy prime minister of Spain, has also spoken out about the Taliban’s most recent decision.
“The barbarity of the Taliban regime is based on the denigrating treatment it gives to women,” she tweeted. “We do not forget all of them and their example taking to the streets in the face of injustice.”
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