On the Move with Begüm Başdaş (24): “Afghans’ struggle for the future” with guest Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for South Asia

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“Europe must stop deportations. Europe cannot further betray Afghans by sending them to misery in a third country. If Pakistan and Iran can host millions of Afghans, they should have some guts to keep the Afghans who have faced a lot of challenges to arrive where they are.”

This week Begüm Başdaş talked with Amnesty International’s Campaigner for South Asia and Afghan women’s rights defender Samira Hamidi about the human rights violations happening in Afghanistan after Taliban took control.

Hamidi, referring to the latest report by Amnesty International, “The Fate of Thousands Hanging in the Balance: Afghanistan’s Fall into the hands of the Taliban,” said that this report is a testimony of a bigger problem especially for the people on the forefronts of human rights in Afghanistan. She said that the access to Afghanistan is becoming more and more restricted to monitor human rights violations outside Kabul and “our fear is that if we do not address this human rights crisis now, we will be witnessing atrocities that will undermine the efforts of people for 20 years.”

Hamidi said, “Women have been active in political, social and economic life of Afghanistan for decades and they advocated for their inclusion by risking their professional and personal lives for the last twenty years.” Hamidi is very critical of international communities’ discourse blaming Afghans, and she finds it insulting because she argues that “women protested strongly against Taliban and they have been speaking to the international community on the peace process.” She said that Afghan women knew this day would come, but “nobody listened to the Afghan women.”

Samidi said that the international community was after quick fixes and an exit from Afghanistan, and thus accepted whatever Taliban wanted while human rights violations continued. She said that the international community relied on their own analysis rather than turning to people of Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan the Women’s Affairs Ministry no longer exists, and it is replaced by The Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. As a response to this change in Taliban’s caretaker government, Hamidi says, “Taliban does not believe women should be in leadership roles. This is very dangerous because they ignore the half of the population and because this leads women and girls’ rights into a very dangerous path.” She further noted that the lives of LGBTI people are in far more danger than ever with Taliban and said, “I am afraid if they are identified and hunted, unfortunately anything can happen to them.”

With regards to people trying to flee Afghanistan in fear of their lives, Hamidi said “No one happily choses to leave their countries. People had to leave Afghanistan to save their lives. Similarly, people who are stuck in Afghanistan have no other choice because they are beaten up, lashed and they can be even killed. This is something we need to comminate to European and other governments like Turkey that they need to welcome Afghans. I really hope there will be humanity for these people.”

Hamidi said the international community, organizations such as UNHCR, should work closely with the neighboring countries to support the Afghan refugees for aid and assistance. She said, “Europe must stop deportations. Europe cannot further betray Afghans by sending them to misery in a third country. If Pakistan and Iran can host millions of Afghans, they should have some guts to keep the Afghans who have faced a lot of challenges to arrive where they are.”

Hamidi lastly said, We are in a situation where people did not deserve. We did not take personal or professional sacrifices to be sidelined today. Afghanistan is our country, and nobody should force us to disown our country. I do not have hope for Taliban. I do not trust the international community anymore. The only hope I have is ourselves, the people, the voices of the people who still want to struggle.”

* Link to the Amnesty International report: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa11/4727/2021/en/

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