Cowering in the bathroom: Some Afghans dread the Taliban knock at the door

(Reuters) – When armed members of the Afghan Taliban knocked on the door of their Kabul apartment, the family of 16 inside had crammed into the bathroom, turned off the lights and mobile phones and covered the children’s mouths to keep them quiet.

They did not know what to expect, but did not want to take any risks. Two family members had already been killed in recent years and they had watched the wave of assassinations across Afghanistan over the last 12 months that the ousted Afghan government blamed on Taliban insurgents.

In Kabul alone, U.S. embassy records show 152 people died in targeted killings between December and July. The records do not attribute blame for the deaths; the Taliban, then fighting against the government, have largely denied involvement.

“My family is in fear. Every second they see a car pass up the road, they run to the washroom,” said the family member, who is trying to get his relatives out of the country and appealing to multiple governments to get them visas.

“Food is limited and prices went up,” he said. “The situation for my family is terrible.”

The scene, recounted by a relative who lives abroad and who declined to be identified for fear of endangering the family, has been repeated in homes across the country since the Taliban seized city after city in a lightning advance.

Activists, women, former officials, journalists, ex-soldiers and members of now-defunct intelligence agencies believe they have reason to fear for their safety, despite Taliban assurances that they do not seek revenge and will give women rights.

The Taliban’s brutal enforcement of their version of Islamic law the last time they were in power is one reason. Fresher in the memory is the death of scores of people working to sustain a liberal version of Islam in Afghanistan over the past year.

Social media feeds have begun featuring grainy mobile phone footage of armed men searching houses or beating people in the street. Reuters could not independently verify them, but they have added to the climate of fear among people trapped in homes looking for information online.

A Taliban spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the door-to-door searches this week and intimidatory tactics.

At their first press conference since taking power, the Taliban said women would be allowed to work in accordance with Islamic law, that NGOs should continue to operate and that the movement was not out to settle scores.

‘NO TRUST’

That has done little to reassure some Afghans.

Reuters spoke to four families in hiding in Afghanistan.

One of two government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said he and his family had tried to get on a flight out of Kabul last weekend as the Taliban were at the city gates, but they failed.

“There is no trust,” he said, referring to the Taliban’s public comments earlier in the week.

Thousands of people are trying to flee and Western governments have said they would

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Amazon just sacked a woman employee for taking too many bathroom breaks

We have all heard how tough an employer Amazon is. Now, here is a case that shows to what lengths the mega-corporation will go to enforce discipline – with an iron hand.

Amazon is a mega-corporation and is able to generate massive amounts of profit year after year by ensuring discipline among the ranks – after all, this is the corporate ethics there that has made its founder Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world with a total net worth of US$187bil (RM788.39bil) according to Bloomberg Billionaires index.

However, that kind of work environment can lead to unfortunate incidents. A woman has reportedly sued Amazon for unjustifiably sacking her recently for taking too many toilet breaks. The woman says she suffered from irritable bowel syndrome and therefore had to rush to the bathroom on a number of occasions throughout the day – sometimes as many as six times a day. However, that did not go down well with the tough Amazon bosses. And even though the woman explained the situation, her boss told her to get a certificate from a doctor indicating her medical condition, Business Insider reports.

Unfortunately, the woman, named Maria Jennite Olivero, who worked in an Amazon warehouse, took too long to get the document even after she was warned that there was a deadline involved.

Finally, Amazon gave her five days to get the doctor’s note or face disciplinary measures. Ultimately, she was sacked as this deadline too passed, with the woman this time claiming a doctor’s appointment was not available for the next six days.

Calling her condition a disability, the woman has sued Amazon for discrimination. A case has been filed in court and she is seeking damages to the tune of US$75,000 (RM316,200) for the unfair dismissal.

Amazon is contesting the same and it even went to the extent of calculating the wages she had lost since her sacking. The grand total was just over US$17,000 (RM71,672) – gross. – Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Tribune News Service

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