Taliban public punishments, 1996–2001

[Note there is a decent amount of overlap between this page and a blogpost I wrote, but the data is only available here.]

Executions are a recurrent motif in how historians, journalists and analysts have chosen to write about the Afghan Taliban. See the opening to Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War as one example, or this Reuters piece from May 1999. I wanted to study the role of executions and public punishments in the Taliban’s government for a while, but lacked data to place the anecdotes into some sort of context.

This short overview is a compilation of sources relating to the Taliban’s public punishments, 1996–2001. It is compiled from publicly available sources as well as from the materials gathered as part of the Taliban Sources Project. I think it is as complete an overview as is possible to get from these public sources, given that the Taliban weren’t shy about publicising their ‘public justice project’ – indeed, for them, the publicity was the point – and that we have multiple complete newspaper runs for the time they were in power. This was collated and triangulated with sources from Associated Press, Agence France Presse, BBC Monitoring and the Afghan Islamic Press news agency.

As a brief summary, I was able to find 101 incidents in total that chronicled the deaths of 119 individuals. I included some instances of public punishment not resulting in death, but this wasn’t really the focus of my search so their numbers may be underrepresented in the list. As another caveat, I was of course only looking at public executions, not anything that went on in secret as part of intelligence or domestic security operations and so on. Kabul, Kandahar and Herat were the most prominent locations for incidents and executions, with over half the total numbers coming from those three provinces alone. (Note that this may reflect a bias in whether incidents were reported from the provinces or not).

In any case, I wanted to present the raw data here alongside a timeline and another chart or two in case this is useful for other researchers/analysts. If you find I’ve missed an event, please drop me a line via email or on twitter and I’ll be sure to add it to the database.

[Note, the timeline was created with TimelineJS 3 and you can scroll through it using arrow keys or by clicking the arrows or events.]

The Data: Aggregate numbers (by province) Chart

View and use an interactive version of this chart here.

The Data: Timeline

Click here for a full-screen version of the timeline if it isn't displaying in your browser. My Chrome browser seems to have some issues displaying the timeline, but that's probably because I've disabled various parts of JavaScript.

The Data: Aggregate numbers (by province)

You can download this set of aggregate data here (via Google Spreadsheets). It is the same data that went into the chart (above).

Raw Data

You can download / use the complete raw data set here via Google Spreadsheets. If you prefer to download a .csv file, you can do that here.