UNAMA Calls For Immediate Release of Detained Women Activists As Family Members Demand Status Update One Month On

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Guess what? The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a tweet on Saturday called for the immediate release of five women’s rights activists, including Zarifa Yaqoobi, who had been detained in Kabul a month ago.

Go deeper:

  • This organization tweeted, “Family members have not been permitted to visit them and there is no clear information about any charges or why they are being held”.
  • UNAMA has further added that it is seeking to access and contact the detained activists and know their whereabouts.
  • UNAMA has also stressed that the detainees must have the right to contact their family members even when these activists have been detained in unknown locations by the Taliban

Back story: Taliban forces had arrested woman journalists and human rights activists which included Zarifa Yaqoubi on November 3. During the arrest armed male and female officers of Taliban forces barged into a press conference held in Dasht-e-Barchi a neighbourhood in Kabul. Just after the arrest, the mobile phones of these detainees including Zarifa Yaqoubi were taken by force.

  • Then, Taliban intelligence forces detained, Farhat Popalzai, a women’s rights activist in Kabul on November 8. Whereabouts of Popalzai, who has been a member of the women’s protest movement, remain unknown.
  • On 13 November, another woman human rights defender, Humaira Yusuf, was taken into custody by the Taliban as per information from sources to Amnesty International.
  • Human Rights Watch in a recent report had described how three Afghan women protesters who had been detained by the Taliban had been tortured and severely mistreated. HRW, quoting the women, said that they had been wrongfully detained along with their families, including children. It added that such accounts portray how the Taliban are trying to supress the women’s protests.

Zoom out: Many international organisations, including the United Nations, have reacted to Yaqoobi’s arrest and demanded her immediate release.

  • The United Nations Human Rights Office too has urged the Taliban to release the women rights activists. Earlier, Human Rights Watch had emphasised that all Afghans have the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of opinion.
  • Even, Amnesty International had asked the Taliban to release these activists. After the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan and their consequent imposition of severe restrictions on Afghan women, women have continuously held protest rallies against the strict laws and policies of the group, but the Taliban’s response has been arbitrary arrests and detentions.
  • In the past, Taliban have not only suppressed the demands of the women rights activists, but they have brutally cracked down on these demonstrations and have in many cases arrested women rights activists.
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