Afghanistan: Advocating for the rights and voices of women human rights defenders

Rashid Khan via Unsplash

In a powerful demonstration of solidarity, 68 regional and international organisations, including FIDH and OMCT in the framework of the Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders, and 38 individuals, including journalists, activists, professors, and human rights advocates, have united to demand the release of Afghan Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Neda Parwani, Zholia Parsi, and, Manizha Sediqi, who were forcibly taken by the Taliban in the past month. This collective effort underscores our commitment to protecting and securing the fundamental rights of these courageous women. Read our full statement below.

For over a month, WHRDs Neda Parwani, Zholia Parsi, along with her son, and recently Manizha Sediqi, have been forcibly taken by the Taliban. These WHRDs have been advocating for women’s rights in Afghanistan, the only country in the world where women are denied secondary and higher education

Since the Taliban takeover, Afghan women have fearlessly led civic protests, enduring violence and persecution. Despite risks, including being pepper sprayed, abducted, tortured, and killed, they persist. 

Zholia Parsi, speaking to Femena in August 2023, expressed frustrations about the impact of their struggles: "In an attempt to demand our rights, I started protesting on the streets. My protests feel futile, with little hope for change."

Since the imprisonment of Zholia, Neda, and Manizha, women protesters across Afghanistan continue to persist and resist the Taliban. They conduct indoor protests, urging the international community to hold the Taliban accountable, demanding justice.

For over two years, the Taliban have violated international human rights with impunity. 

Femena stands in solidarity with these brave women, urging the world to listen and act. It is past time to demand accountability, ensuring the voices and rights of Afghan women are recognized and protected. 

Our Call for Action:

 Pressure the Taliban: We urge UNAMA and diplomatic missions in Afghanistan to exert pressure on the Taliban, demanding an end to their targeted attacks on Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) and other civic actors within the country.
 Advocate for WHRDs: We demand that UNAMA, diplomatic missions, and Special Envoys for Afghanistan elevate the cases of WHRDs in Taliban prisons, advocating vigorously for their safe release and ensuring their human rights are protected.
 Support WHRDs: We urge key international stakeholders to provide crucial financial, protection, and relocation support to Afghan WHRDs whenever their lives are under threat. These measures are essential for safeguarding the lives and contributions of these brave activists.

We, the signatories of this statement of solidarity, demand action to support and protect Afghan WHRDs and advocate for their release from Taliban prisons in Afghanistan.

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  • Co-signatories

    Organisational Signatories:

    1. Afghan Canadian House of Culture 
    2. Afghan Women Justice Movement 
    3. Afghan Women’s Revolution Movement
    4. Afghanistan Women’s Justice Movement 
    5. Afghanistan Women’s New Thought Movement 
    6. Afghanistan Women’s Revolution 
    7. Alternatives Links for Training and Development 
    8. Anethum Global
    9. AREU
    10. ArtLords
    11. AWID
    12. Bent El Nile
    13. Bibliotheek
    14. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA)
    15. Center for the Projection of Afghan Women Journalists
    16. Civil Society Association 
    17. Civil Society Development and Growth Organization (CSDGO) 
    18. Dare organization 
    19. Defence Foundation for Rights and Freedoms
    20. Doria Feminist Fund
    21. Droit Des Femmes
    22. ECW
    23. Equality Now
    24. Farkhunda News And Afghan Women’s Movement for Justice and Freedom 
    25. Femena 
    26. Feminine Perspective Campaign 
    27. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    28. Genocide Watch
    29. Green Home 
    30. HRD+ 
    31. Pen Path Education Society 
    32. Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras)
    33. International Action Network for Gender Equity & Law (IANGEL)
    34. International Service for Human Rights
    35. Iran- SAed Rahnavard
    36. Justice Movement To End Gender Apartheid 
    37. Kaboof
    38. Kurdistan Human Rights Association-Geneva (KMMK-G)
    39. Kurdpa Human Rights Organization
    40. Leila Hessini Strategies
    41. Miaan
    42. Movement of Women to Awareness 
    43. MOWA
    44. Nazra for Feminist Studies 
    45. NRF Women- Afghanistan 
    46. PEN America
    47. Powerful Women’s Movement in Afghanistan 
    48. Qarar foundation for Media and development
    49. Salam
    50. Sisterhood and Solidarity Inc
    51. South Asian Women’s Community Centre, Montreal, Canada
    52. Spontaneous Movement of Protesting Women of Afghanistan
    53. Syrian Feminist Lobby
    54. Takatoat
    55. The Regional Coalition for WHRDs in SWANA (also known as WHRDMENA)
    56. Training Human Rights Association for Afghan Women (THRA)
    57. Unity and Solidarity of Afghan Women 
    58. WHRDS
    59. WLUML
    60. Women and Children Research and Advocacy Network
    61. Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition
    62. Women Participation Promotion Organization 
    63. Women Strijders
    64. Women’s Movement Towards Freedom 
    65. Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) Nepal 
    66. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    67. جنبش رفاه و عدالت برای زنان
    68. جنبش زنان عدالتخواه افغانستان 

    Individual Signatories:

    1. Abida Jabarzai
    2. Ali-AkbarMousavi, Postdoc Research Fellow
    3. Asma Khalifa, Human Rights Activist
    4. Aziz Khurasani
    5. Batool Haidari, University Professor 
    6. Claire Rimmer
    7. Faiza Mohseni, Pedagogist
    8. Farid Barzgar, Poet and Peace Activist
    9. Farida Safi, Journalist and Activist 
    10. Fatema D. Ahmadi, Consultant
    11. Fatima Mohammadi, Activist 
    12. Hakima Kouhyar
    13. Hossein Raeesi, Adjunct Professor /Human Rights Lawyer
    14. Joyce Shanahan, Strategic Advisor
    15. Kristina Stockwood
    16. Latifa Ahmadi, Activist 
    17. Mahdieh Golroo, Feminist and Human Right activist
    18. Mitra Ayari
    19. Mona Tajali
    20. Moni Alavi, Lawyer
    21. Nadima Farani
    22. Nayereh Tohidi, Professor Emerita
    23. Niki Akhavan, Associate Professor
    24. Palwasha Paiwandi, Human Rights Advocate 
    25. Razan ALMoghrabi
    26. Sahar
    27. Ben Hazem 
    28. Sakina Hassani, Student
    29. Sawssan Abou-Zahr, Journalist
    30. Sina Toossi, Policy and Editorial Advisor
    31. Somayeh Rashidi, Social Worker
    32. Sourget Claire
    33. Stephanie Farrior, Professor of International Law (retired)
    34. Storay Darwazy, Activist 
    35. Waheza Kakar, Activist 
    36. Weam Shawgi Hassan
    37. Wida Saghary, Journalist
    38. Zia Moballegh

  • Member organisations - Afghanistan

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