Afghanistan: Stop the crackdown on women’s rights protesters

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, women in Afghanistan have faced severe repression. Women protesting against the Taliban’s harsh policies have been met with forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and detention. Many have experienced torture and other forms of mistreatment. Manizha Seddiqi, a noted human rights defender, was forcibly disappeared on October 9, 2023, and found later in Taliban custody. Detained in Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul since December 5, 2023, Manizha Seddiqi is denied access to legal representation and regular family visits. She faces the threat of torture and her health is reportedly declining. Notably, she has not been formally charged with any crime. Manizha Seddiqi should be released immediately and unconditionally.

Here’s what you can do:

Write to the Director of Intelligence urging him to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Manizha Seddiqi
  • Pending her release, ensure that her detention conditions meet international standards, and that she is provided with access to lawyers and medical care, and can receive family visits.
  • Immediately stop subjecting women and their families to arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and other grave human rights violations simply for exercising their rights.

Write to:

Mr. Abdul Haq Wasiq

Director of Intelligence

General Directorate of Intelligence

Chaharahi Zanbaq

Kabul, Afghanistan

Email: info@mfa.gov.af

Salutation: Dear Mr. Abdul Haq Wasiq,

And copy:

His Excellency M. Hassan Soroosh Y.

Ambassador

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

240 Argyle Avenue

Ottawa, ON K2P 1B9

Tel: (613) 563-4223; 563-4265 Fax: (613) 563-4962

Email: contact@afghanembassy.ca

Arbitrary Detention of Women Human Rights Defenders

Around the same time as Seddiqi’s disappearance, three other prominent women human rights defenders – Parisa Azada, Neda Parwani, and Zholia Parsi – were also arbitrarily detained by the Taliban. Like Seddiqi, they were held without access to lawyers or regular family visits and were not charged. While these women have since been released, Seddiqi remains imprisoned.

Under Taliban rule, there has been a significant increase in violations of women’s rights. Women’s political participation and public involvement have been severely restricted. The Taliban’s policies have infringed on freedoms of expression and assembly, and rights to equality and non-discrimination.

Burqa-clad women wait for free bread in front of a bakery in Kabul on September 16, 2021.
TOPSHOT – Burqa-clad women wait for free bread in front of a bakery in Kabul on September 16, 2021. (Photo by BULENT KILIC / AFP) (Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Taliban’s Increasing Violation of Women’s Rights

Despite these challenges, Afghan women have courageously led peaceful protests across various cities. However, these protestors face unlawful force, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, and other cruel treatments. In August 2023, at least eight members of the Women’s National Unity and Solidarity Movement were detained for organizing protests. Protestors often endure verbal abuse, harassment, and intimidation from armed Taliban agents, who also routinely seize their protest materials.

The Taliban have followed women protesters home to arrest them, often using violent methods. Many women have been arrested at gunpoint, with some of their male relatives also being attacked during these arrests. These women have been held incommunicado and subjected to repeated torture or ill-treatment.

This pattern of abuse underscores the urgent need for international attention and action to protect the rights and freedoms of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

Please send your appeals until March 18, 2024. If there’s the need for further action after that date, the UA will be duly updated.