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As US contemplates exit from Afghanistan, activist sees lengthy wrestle for girls

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Outstanding activist Sima Samar has been combating for girls’s rights in Afghanistan for 40 years. She believes her struggle is much from over – particularly at a time of escalating violence, peace talks between rival Afghan teams are stalled and the US plans to depart her nation in Could.

Samar, 64, worries in regards to the future, noting that insecurity and instability in Afghanistan has reached scary ranges.

“No one is aware of what’s going to occur tomorrow,” she mentioned in an interview at her dwelling within the Afghan capital, Kabul, protected by explosion-proof partitions, guards and a German Shepherd, who rushes in the direction of her. statement submit overlooking the road when a automotive even slows down. because it passes.

Nonetheless, the stakes are excessive and “a number of sacrifice has been remodeled these 20 years,” she mentioned, reflecting the priority of civil society leaders as the US seeks the easiest way out. their longest struggle.

As a part of a 2020 deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration, all US troops should depart Afghanistan by Could 1. The Biden administration says it’s reviewing the deal, suggesting it could miss the deadline.

Final week, Samar and different civil society representatives participated in a Zoom enchantment with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. He assured them that Washington stands with Afghan civil society to guard the progress remodeled the previous 20 years.

The decision appeared final minute in Samar – simply earlier than Khalilzad left Kabul for Qatar to satisfy with Taliban negotiators, after two days of face-to-face conferences with political leaders and warlords turned politicians.

“I sort of really feel like historical past is repeating itself,” Samar mentioned, questioning the renewed emphasis on warlords and political management struggling to realize the belief of Afghans.

When the Taliban regime was overthrown in 2001 by the US-led coalition, it demanded justice – that those that had dedicated crimes in earlier regimes be punished, that accountability, equality and justice come first. .

At the moment, she unsuccessfully warned that warlords – who had fought within the civil struggle of the Nineteen Nineties and destroyed a lot of Kabul – have been occupying outstanding roles in a submit administration. -taliban. She obtained dying threats and was the goal of a marketing campaign of slander underneath the title “Sima Samar, the Salman Rushdie of Afghanistan”.

“I am not saying everybody has to go to jail, however against the law is against the law,” she mentioned. “They need to be at the least courageous sufficient to say ‘I am sorry’. It is a starting. “

Samar mentioned Afghanistan wants the participation of the worldwide neighborhood sooner or later, to make sure that guarantees made are stored and that ceasefires are independently monitored. The culprits ought to be punished, she mentioned.

The quick query on the minds of many is who’s systematically focusing on and killing members of civil society. The Islamic State group claimed accountability for a number of assaults. The Taliban have denied involvement in a lot of the incidents. The federal government and the Taliban typically blame one another.

The variety of focused killings tripled final yr, based on the Afghanistan Impartial Human Rights Fee, which Samar launched and led from 2002 to 2019.

Fee spokesperson Zabihullah Farhang mentioned 65 girls have been killed and 95 injured in focused assaults in 2020. The attackers hit a maternity hospital. They twice struck instructional establishments, killing 50 individuals, most of them college students. A number of of the victims have been journalists, rights activists, younger judges, attorneys.

“It is like taking the rarest pearls in our midst,” mentioned Torek Farhadi, analyst and former adviser to the Afghan authorities.

In recognition of Worldwide Girls’s Day on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken presents six Afghan girls, who have been amongst these killed final yr, with the Worldwide Girls of Braveness Award.

“These tragic killings underscore the alarming pattern of elevated focusing on of girls in Afghanistan and the US condemns these acts of violence,” Blinken mentioned earlier than the ceremonies.

Blinken additionally provided measures to assist revive the stalled peace course of between the federal government and the Taliban, based on his letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani printed on Sunday by Afghan TOLONews.

The letter requires the 2 sides to return collectively for a UN-facilitated convention with international ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the US “to debate ‘a unified strategy to assist peace in Afghanistan’.

Samar mentioned a lot has been gained within the 20 years because the Taliban was ousted. Women’ faculties are open. Girls have entered the workforce, entered politics, have turn into judges – they’re even on the negotiating desk the place the Taliban and the Afghan authorities are struggling to discover a approach to finish the struggle.

However the good points are fragile, and human rights activists have many enemies in Afghanistan – from activists and warlords to those that wish to quell criticism or challenges to their energy.

Afghanistan is second after Yemen because the worst place on this planet to be a girl, based on the 2019 Girls, Peace and Safety Index, compiled by the Georgetown Institute for Girls Peace and Safety and the Peace Analysis Institute in Oslo . The illiteracy price amongst Afghan girls is 82% and most girls incarcerated in Afghan prisons are imprisoned for so-called “ethical” crimes similar to submitting for divorce.

The street to justice and equality stays lengthy, mentioned Samar, who grew to become an activist as a 23-year-old medical scholar with a toddler son. On the time, the then Communist authorities arrested her activist husband and she or he by no means noticed him once more.

Samar, who says discrimination based mostly on ethnicity and gender continues to be prevalent, is a member of Afghanistan’s Hazaras minority, which has been discriminated in opposition to for hundreds of years. They’re principally Shia Muslims belonging to a Sunni Muslim majority in Afghanistan and extra typically the goal of Islamic State militants lately.

Regardless of the lingering challenges, Afghanistan in 2021 is totally different, mentioned Samar, a recipient of quite a few awards who, on a latest go to, wore a t-shirt proclaiming “that is what a FEMINIST appears to be like like.”

Human rights, girls’s rights and minority rights are at the least underneath dialogue. “A minimum of we’re speaking about violence in opposition to girls now. Earlier than, that was not an issue on this nation, aside from some loopy individuals like me, ”she mentioned.

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