78 voices for progress in Afghanistan: what will become of them?

Press release
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As the Taliban seize control of Afghanistan, many Afghans fear for their lives and their liberties. Human rights defenders are among those particularly at risk. Today we are highlighting many of these influential leaders—many of whom are still in Afghanistan, in grave danger.

Several years ago, FIDH and its member organisation OPEN ASIA-Armanshahr debuted this series of profiles, named "Unveiling Afghanistan: The Unheard Voices of Progress," aiming to spark discussion and debate about building a society that protects women’s rights and human rights. Eighty interviews with social, political, and cultural actors were published in the Huffington Post and in the major Afghan daily newspaper, 8 Sobh. You can find their names and links to their stories below.

“Defending vulnerable human rights defenders is a moral duty. They have to help us get these people out."

Guissou Jahangiri, FIDH Vice President and Executive Director of OPEN ASIA-Armanshahr

FIDH’s advocacy for Afghanistan is currently focused on helping get to safety those who gave their best for their country and who are now in great danger because of it. FIDH calls for evacuations to continue beyond the 31 August deadline, until each and every at-risk human rights defender is safe. Find out more about FIDH’s mobilisation for Afghanistan.

Unveiling Afghanistan gives voice to the demands of Afghan civil society leaders for an open and inclusive society. Critically, it promotes women’s participation in the electoral process, by building awareness and knowledge amongst women about their fundamental rights and electoral choices. In doing so, this series of portraits seeks to contribute to the emergence of a culture of democracy, human rights, and gender equality in Afghanistan. We need to hear their voices, now more than ever.

For more information, contact OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr: openasiafrance@gmail.com.

Please find below the interviews already published in English (Dari also available). "Unveiling Afghanistan: the Unheard Voices of Progress" is available on the Huffington Post blog / Unveiling Afghanistan.

Adela Mohseni: “Any people who are not aware of their rights will not live in peace”

Aziz Rafiee: “We have not yet diagnosed the pathology of the problems that infect

Mohammad Ismail Qassemyar: “Poverty and unemployment have paralysed the lives of most Afghans”

Massoud Hassanzada: “The biggest challenge facing Afghanistan is absence of true progressive forces to combat ignorance, corruption and fanaticism”

Abdul Hamid Mobarez: “Democracy is the choice of the people and it is up to them to protect it”

Wahida Samadi: “The Taliban will never really change”

Dr Saheb-Nazar Moradi: “We must unite against the extremists to defend the achievements of the past 10 years”

Mahbuba Jamshidi: “It would be a tragedy for women to lose their legal status and rights in this political game”

Aziz Deldar: “My greatest fear is a day when I may not be able to express what I think”

Sonia Iqbal: “We have not planned for economic recession, but it is sitting on our doorstep”

Bakht Mohammad Bakhtiar: “We will return to the dark days of the past if we are not careful”

Rafi Behroozian: “I strongly support the media revolution”

Professor Seifuddin Sayhoun: “It was a woman who decided my fate”

Torpikai Nawabi: “Popular uprisings against the Taliban prove that the people do not want them to rule Afghanistan anymore”

Ahmad Fahim Hakim: “Peace talks with the Taliban lack red lines, clear policy, and transparency”

Saeed Haqiqi: “There is a fear in the air of 2014”

Mary Nabard Ayeen: “Women’s rights must not be sacrificed in a peace deal with the Taliban”

Mir Mohammad Yaqub Mashuf: “The government’s actions for women are empty and symbolic”

Seraj ul-Haq Fazl: “Educated Afghans will prevent a repetition of the past”

Momina Yari: “I am most worried about the lack of security”

Sayed Ishaq Gailani: “Our only demand is attention to education”

Sarvar Hosseini: "Renovating the education system is a great achievement"

Fakhera Mousavi: “The Afghan woman rests in the coma of her predecessors”

Mohammad Afsar Rahbin: “Drugs threaten the entire nation building process”

Nilab Mobarez: “Women are often deprived of their rights because the men in their family do not feel secure”

Mir Ahmad Jouyanda: “They shaved his head because he danced and was happy at his own wedding”

Tourialay Ghiassi: “In Afghanistan, the fear that transitional democracy might fall to dictatorship prevails”

Kazemiya Mohaqeq: “We cannot even begin to list our demands if we do not shake off the straitjacket of illiteracy”

Nader Nadery: “These freedoms are the most precious gifts to the people of Afghanistan”

Somaya Ramesh: “Things will get worse if the government sacrifices human rights for political interests”

Daoud Naji: “Afghanistan is plagued with repeated cultural rupture”

Horia Mosadiq: “He said he would kill me if he ever saw me going to school again”

Abdul Hafiz Mansoor: “I assure you the Taliban will never return”

Suraya Popal: “They stole his sister, not his car”

Abdul Qayyum Sajjadi: “It is difficult to leave the tribal, misogynist and monopolist approach behind”

Sahraa Karimi: “The taste of freedom is a powerful antidote to oppression”

Dr Ramazan Bashardost: “Our leaders push their people over the cliff”

Dr Alema: “We need a national campaign against illiteracy”

Wahid Ghassemi: “I belong to the land called Afghanistan”

Sediqa Balkhi: “He said I would die if I went to school again”

Hussain Fakhri: “The acts we see as ‘violations’, they see as exercising their rights”

Fawzia Koofi: “I am afraid to see the world and its progress from behind a chador again”

Malek Setiz:“We must move with the times”

Malika Suraya Afghanyar: “We want to work, to think, to walk, to be present, to speak”

Awtar Singh Khalsa: “They gave the Hindus and Sikhs a place for rubbish disposal as a place to live”

Hengama Anwari: “10 years is only a drop in the ocean that is the process of changing a society”

Mujib Mehrdad: “My sisters are no different from my brothers”

Batul Moradi: “A little light is better than absolute darkness”

Sayed-Askar Mousavi: “Afghanistan needs educated women to combat reactionaries”

Farkhunda Zahra Naderi: “A culture of war is not the Afghan culture”

Seddiq Barmak: “I couldn’t speak up, I couldn’t breathe”

Najiba Ayubi: “You do realise that you are a woman?”

Ahmad Shah Behzad: “Open minds are the key to a safe, sustainable future”

Roya Sadat: “She even changed her name to Sohrab, a boy’s name”

Abdullah Ahmadi: “They seek their human rights, as humans and citizens”

Shakila Ibrahimkhalil: “We have fought too hard for our freedoms to lose them again”

Dr Daud Shah Saba: “The Afghan economy is a man’s economy”

Khadija Ghaznawi: ”The key to peace lies within Afghanistan, not outside”

Mohieddin Mahdi: “You do not have the right to breathe the air of this country”

Maria Bashir: “He threw my documents back in my face, and shouted: ‘Go and stay at home!’”

Yassin Negah: “... that she would give thanks a thousand times a day for being a woman”

Suraia Perlika: “We cannot trust our statesmen”

Sediqullah Towhidi: “We must guard vigilantly against a return to despotism”

Khaleda Khorsand: “We should never be under the illusion that the Taliban’s return is impossible”

Farid Mazdak: “The process of building a modern state in Afghanistan has only just begun”

Aziza Khayrandish: “If the price of peace is sacrificing justice… it will be catastrophic for the women of Afghanistan”

Mohammad Farid Hamidi: “Your children are the backbone of a strong and progressive Afghanistan”

Dr Habiba Sarabi: “The existence of an independent Afghan identity fills me with joy”

Aman Pouyamak: ”Everything is on loan”

Seyyedeh Mojgan Mostafavi: “Women have always been the first victims of wars in Afghanistan”

Partaw Naderi: “Democracies deal with citizens, not ethnicities”

Shukria Haidar: “I was forced to leave my country”

Ahmad Wali Massoud: “Those who look to the past cannot plan our future”

Azita Rafa’t: "It was the day when 10,000 rockets hit the city"

Kaweh Jobran: “Allow me not to wish for my daughter”

Dr Sima Samar: “Human rights have a value now in Afghanistan”

Rahnavard Zaryab: “We are not free to think here”

Dr Humaira Qaderi: “When are you going to burn yourself?”

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