A 2019 video of a street play held in Kabul in Afghanistan by a group of activists and theatre artists to raise awareness of Taliban's atroctities in Jalrez of Maidan Wardak province of the country, is viral with a false claim that the video is real and recent. BOOM found that the video shows a civil rights group enacting how the Taliban targets the ethnic minority of Jalrez through abductions and killings of motorists to the area.
In April, United States' President Joe Biden declared the withdrawal of all American troops by September 11, 20 years after it invaded the country. In the past week, Taliban forces have moved swiftly to conquer major parts of Afghanistan including Herat and the capital city of Kabul.
The 6 minute 45 second video shows actors dressed like masked armed Taliban militants stopping a tempo and asking the driver to step out and speaking to him at gun point. It then shows the same actors mock shooting at another vehicle forcing it to stop, pulling out seemingly injured passengers and laying them down on the road one by one to show how they have been executed. All the while one can see camera crew shooting all the scenes.
BOOM received the video on its WhatsApp tipline number asking for verification
The full video is below
We noticed a logo on the video with English and Arabic words. Using Google lens we translated the logo and found it says Afghan International and a search for the same on YouTube led us to a channel by the same name.
The YouTube channel Afghan International uploaded the same video on September 25, 2019 with a caption in Arabic that translates to, "How the Taliban group closes the passengers in Jalrez! An allegory of artists being beaten by the Taliban in Jalrez"
The about section of the Afghan International YouTube channel describes it as, "Afghan International was launched in 2019 by several creative young to produce Scientific, Research, Educational, Entertainment, Music (Folklore, Modern) and etc programs."
We then ran a reverse image search on a keyframe from the video with the keyword as 'Jalrez' in Arabic and found a news story by Etilaatroz, an Afghanistan based news outlet. The story was published on September 16, 2019 and carried a photo from the same event
We contacted Zaki Daryabi, editor-in-chief of Etilaatroz who in a conversation on Twitter confirmed that the video was a piece of theatre. Daryabi said, "The video is a theater in Kabul. They just showed what's happening with Hazara's in Jalrez district in Maidan Wardak."
According to the story in Etilaatroz, passengers travelling to and from Jalrez using the Kabul-Markazi highway are routinely attacked by the Taliban with several killings and kidnappings reported. "Jalrez district of Maidan Wardak province on the Kabul-Markazi highway is known as the "Road of Death". The Taliban have claimed about 108 lives in central Jalrez district, 60 km from the capital, since 2012, when the road became unsafe. Most of the victims were civilians who were shot or beheaded by the Taliban in Jalrez while traveling on the route. Dozens more were taken hostage and harassed during these years," reported the news outlet. The report further said that on September 1, "Taliban attacked tens of families, attacking the Pitab and Sarcheshmeh areas , which are inhabited by Hazaras, and tried to bring war and insecurity to these areas."
The Hazaras who are the major population in Jalrez area are an ethnic minority in Afghanistan and Shite mulsims, who have been attacked and persecuted by the Taliban and the Islamic state for their ethicnity and religious beliefs.
The escalating conflict in Afghanistan has also led to various pieces of misinformation being shared on social media with many sharing a satire story about the Taliban wearing masks before taking over the country and old images shared as visuals of recent happenings in the country.
Updated On: 2021-08-19T17:00:26+05:30