World ‘We have no future’: Afghan women protest Taliban restrictions
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Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan on Aug. 15, life for 33-year-old Wahida Amiri has been one shock after another.
First, she lost her job as a librarian. Then, she was told that women can’t leave home unless accompanied by a male relative. And now, Wahida Amiri is witnessing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, according to international groups.
Afghanistan's economy is on the brink of collapse and the rights of women and girls have been curtailed.
“We lost our identity and our dreams,” Wahida Amiri said from her home in Kabul. “The Taliban say they want an inclusive government, but so far, their actions paint a different picture.”
More Than 500,000 Afghans Have Lost Jobs Since Taliban Takeover, Report Shows
Many people lost their jobs or are not receiving wages. It estimated that 700,000 to 900,000 jobs could be lost by June. The Taliban seized power as U.S. and NATO troops withdrew, leading to the international community freezing assets in Afghanistan and halted funding as a result of the Taliban's reputation for brutality during its rule 20 years earlier.Due to the halt of all funding, limits have been placed on bank withdrawals, leaving companies struggling to pay workers and individuals struggling without the money.
Wahida Amiri and a group of women across the country have been protesting Taliban restrictions for months. They have been out on the streets calling for teenage girls to be allowed back into schools and for women to have permission to work. (Women arefrom most employment).
Wahida Amiri, protester, Afghanistan
“Work and access to education is a basic human right.”
“Work and access to education is a basic human right,” she said.
The Taliban’s response to women’s protests has been fierce. Protesters have been beaten and threatened, Wahida Amiri said. In November, Frozan Safi, a 29-year-old women’s rights activist, wasshot to death in northern Afghanistan. Taliban officials suggested the death might have been the result of a “personal feud.”
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Thousands of activists, media professionals, artists and university professors have fled the country since the Taliban takeover, fearing for their safety under the new government.
Wahida Amiri recorded a video last month from the back seat of a taxi. She had just left a protest, and through tears, she explained how Taliban men attacked women protesters and fired gunshots in the air.
“Are we not human?” she asks in the video. “Our lives are upended, we have no future.”
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Learning to govern
The Taliban takeover happened fast. Even the group’s leaders seemed caught off guard by how quickly they were back in power
In the five months since they took control, “they have been very busy consolidating power,” explained Omar Samad, formerly Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada and France, who is now with the Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington.
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“They have had to relearn or learn from scratch how to govern.”
The Taliban, which was in power for a short period in the 1990s, are facing the realities of running a country of roughly 40 million people, Samad said.
“They do not seem to have enough people who can handle technical aspects of governance and on top of all this, we have seen this very troubling humanitarian crisis unfold in Afghanistan,” Samad said.
The World Food Program estimates that 98% of Afghans don’t have enough food to eat. UNICEF saysare on the brink of famine. The International Rescue Committee ranked Afghanistan at the top of its , adding that the country could see near-universal poverty (97%) by mid-2022.
“The numbers that we’re looking at far exceed the combined total civilian casualties from the various armed attacks that took place in Afghanistan over 20 years,” warned, the special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights with the United Nations.
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More than 500 veterans and members of military families are calling on Congress to broadly compensate victims of terrorism with confiscated Taliban funds.The request came in a letter to the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee in both the House and Senate, the Army Times reported Tuesday. The letter is the latest in what could be ongoing wrangling over how to distribute $3.5 billion in Afghan funds frozen by the U.S.
Last month, after much pressure, the United Nations lifted some restrictions on humanitarian aid.
Ní Aoláin said it’s a good step, but it’s not enough compared to the magnitude of the problem.
She likens the one-year reprieve to “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, where humanitarian actors get a small amount of time to do work that simply cannot be done.”
To solve the humanitarian crisis, Ní Aoláin said, the world needs to engage with the Taliban, “however unhappy and distasteful people find it.”
But some experts say that does not seem to be a top priority for the Biden administration. (The World requested an interview with the newly appointed US special envoy for Afghan women, girls and human rights, Rina Amiri (no relation to protester Wahida Amiri), which was not granted).
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights with the United Nations
“One of the tragedies of this moment is that the United States is behaving as if it is done with Afghanistan because it decided to leave. The leadership moment is not in walking out. The leadership moment is in what you do afterward.”
Why Afghanistan should matter to us all
In our era, Dr. King’s universal message of the value and dignity of all human beings has much broader application.The Taliban has been in power in Afghanistan for almost six months, and already the terrible images are fading: of Afghans clinging to - and falling from - airplanes destined for freedom; of the dead and mangled from a terrorist bomb blast; of Taliban fighters beating demonstrators, women, and journalists, heralding a new era - back to the 7th century.
“One of the tragedies of this moment is that the United States is behaving as if it is done with Afghanistan because it decided to leave,” Ní Aoláin said. “The leadership moment is not in walking out. The leadership moment is in what you do afterward.”
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This week, the Biden administration announcedfor the people of Afghanistan. The White House said that it is also sending 1 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to the country through COVAX, an initiative by the World Health Organization to improve vaccine access and equity.
The aid will flow through aid organizations, and not the Taliban, US officials said.
‘We will continue to protest for our rights’
Meanwhile, people inside Afghanistan continue to not only fight hunger, but also the Taliban’s harsh rule.
“They have oppressed women, they have oppressed minorities, they have continued punishment of people on the streets, they have outlawed music,” said Samiullah Mahdi, a journalist and university lecturer.
Mahdi, who left the country a day before Kabul fell, said his journalist colleagues who are still there describe a dire situation for freedom of the press.
“Working in the media now is like working for outfits [that] are mouthpieces of the Taliban,” he said, adding that Taliban officials frequently visit newsrooms to “order reporters and editors on what kind of stories they can report on.” Mahdi said editors are regularly summoned by the Taliban to the intelligence offices and given instructions on coverage.
But Taliban pressure has not stopped Afghan women from protesting.
Wahida Amiri, the activist, said sometimes protesters gather in living rooms and basements to avoid harassment. They hold up signs that read “education is a human right” and “work, bread, freedom.” They then post photos and videos online.
“We will continue to raise our voice, despite the risks,” she said.
The Taliban warned Pakistan after the death of five Afghan children .
The Taliban government of Afghanistan warned Saturday Pakistan after five children and a woman were killed in the east of the country © AFP Hundreds of civilians also manifested Khost, scheming antipackist slogans.