The Death that Shocked Afghanistan; Abdul Samad Amiri, the Young Advocate who Lost His life in Pursuit of Human Rights

Many reporters attended a news conference held on 7th September in the human rights hall to commemorate the death of Abdul Samad Amiri. Everyone was waiting for the conference to start. Some were taking photos, few others were setting up their cameras and others were busy chatting with one another. After a few minutes, the door opened and a couple of AIHRC commissioners entered the hall.

Along with the commissioners, 3 girls also emerged, one of them did not look in a good shape, someone else was holding her hand as she was walking.

Everyone sat down, silence crept in the thin air, and the conference started with AIHRC expressing its sympathy to the family of Mr. Amiri and read its official statement.

Almost half an hour had passed when we found out that Mr. Amiri’s sister was also among the crowd.

Abdul Samad Amiri: A Humanist & A Dreamer

Abdul Samad Amiri was born in 1990 in Lal Wa Sarjangal District of Ghor province.

He graduated from the Imam Ali high school of Lal Wa Sarjangal district in 2009. And then went to Kabul University to get a degree in Law and Political Science.

While he was pursuing his higher education in Kabul, Amiri also learned English and French.

Mr. Amiri began working at the AIHRC in 2013. He began his career at the AIHRC Regional Office of Bamyan in the Political Rights Monitoring Unit subsequently moving to the Children’s Rights Unit in Ghor Provincial Office. He recently became the Acting Director of Ghor Provincial Office.

He was keenly interested in social services and had taught English at language centers. Mr. Amiri had membership of Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union. He had also written dozens of articles for foreign news agencies. Abdul Samad Amiri also penned the biography of Madina Lali who was killed in a suicide attack carried out in Mawod education center in the west of Kabul city in 2018.

He got married last year with Ms. Hakima Haidari who has a degree in economics. Now with him gone he has left both his wife and his baby girl “Helan” alone for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Amiri has 9 sisters and one brother. He was not only a brother for them but strong support system, someone they could count on and lean-onto in their lives and look up to in terms of education. They are unsure if they will ever be able to overcome the void that he has left.

The Trip that Never Happened

Marzia Amiri is the youngest sister of Abdul Samad Amiri. Marzia is a student, who has recently received a wonderful opportunity to pursue higher education in Bangladesh. She was supposed to fly there with Mr. Amiri on 6th September.

Ms Amiri was extremely happy after she got to know that she would go to Bangladesh and was set to move towards her new journey with her brother. Sadly the world turned upside down for her and transformed her happiness into deep pain.

Abdul Samad Amiri had served in the Human Rights Commission for six years. On Tuesday 3rd September 2019, the Taliban abducted Abdul Samad Amiri in Jalriz district of Maidan Wardak province.

Although AIHRC in coordination with Mr. Amiri’s family negotiated for Mr. Amiri’s release, sadly it did not work out and the Taliban killed him on Thursday, September 5.

From right to left the first girl is Marzia

A look at Marzia’s eyes was enough to tell how much her eyes welled with tears. She was walking while leaning on her cousin’s shoulder.

She had already packed to travel to Bangladesh on Saturday but had to change her flight tickets to attend her brother’s funeral ceremony in Ghor province.

Amiri holding his daughter, looking in her eyes, looks happy and content here to have her in his life

A Lost Hope For The Amiri Family

The Amiri family is well educated, Zakia his elder sister was very close to him and knew of Abdul Samad Amiri’s personality and habits.

“Abdul Samad was not only a great husband and father but also a supporter and inspiring figure for the rest of the family,” Zakia said with a lump in her throat.

“He used to purchase educational books for his wife, so that she reads them and applies them in raising their daughter in the best way possible”, she recalled.

Zakia said that when he came home he used to bow and kiss our mother’s feet and ask her to forgive him since he could not spend a lot of time at home due to his work.

Her family knew him as a man who dreamed of creating a wonderful future for his daughter.

Atifa another sister of Amiri, is pursuing her master’s degree in politics in India.

When Atifa Amiri heard about the death of his brother, she was shocked and wanted to give up her studies and return to Afghanistan, but his father stopped her from doing that and asked her not to come. Her father reminded her of her dreams and her brother’s advice and what he wanted them to become in their lives.

Abdul Samad Amiri was abducted by the Taliban in Jalriz district of Maidan Wardak province while he was traveling to Ghor from Kabul province. He had come to Kabul as his wife was undergoing surgery.

Besides his work in the human rights commission, Amiri has worked as a volunteer in the ROYA mentorship program.  He also researched for New York University in Afghanistan.

Mahdi Abbasi has been friend with Amiri since school days

Mahdi Abbasi who is Amiri’s friend and a classmate recalled his 12 years of friendship. He is shattered and completely broken to from his friend passing away, which was very apparent his tone while talking to him.

“Abdul Samad was an amazing and talented person. We were still friends when he entered University. Together we established an organization called Nehzat Fikri,” Mahdi Abbasi said while speaking to Reporterly.

Amiri’s death comes as a complete shock not only in Afghanistan but also in other countries. He has left a great vacuum in the lives of not just his family and friends but has left the nation questioning the direction it is heading in.

Advocacy and Way Forward

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHR) in a conference commemorated the death of Mr. Amiri. The officials of the commission called on the relevant organs of the Afghan government to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. At the same time, the authorities emphasized that they will take some internal precautions for the security of its employees.

“We have some security measures for the protection of our colleagues. The commission has always advocated for the protection of civilians and this time, it will also follow up the case with the cooperation of security institutions. The perpetrators of the incident should be identified and brought to justice,” speaking to Reporterly Shaharzad Akabar AIHRC chairperson said.

Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of AIHRC

The Commission asked its staff to postpone their official trips until after the election and in case of emergency, they should travel by air.

A part of the provincial human rights office is supposed to be named after Abdul Samad Amiri.

In memory of Amiri, we will name a part of the provincial office after him and during human rights awareness-raising programs, we will speak about his life, his struggles and the great works he has done, AIHRC chairperson, Shaharzad said.

Reactions Across The Globe

Amiri’s death garnered strong national and international reactions. European Union, Amnesty International, and Afghan people strongly condemned his brutal killing.

Dozens of civil and human rights activists had gathered at Alakain Square of Bamyan on Friday, protesting against his killing.

Partaw Naderi, an Afghan poet, and writer also wrote on her Facebook page that, with this action Taliban not only killed Amiri but also the name of human rights and the meaning of humanity.

European Union and Amnesty International reacted to the killing of Amiri. EU called to identify and prosecute the culprits of Amiri’s killing. They stressed that his killing should not go unnoticed.

Amnesty International called his death a war crime and said that the Taliban still claim the lives of people while they pursue the peace process.

The Last Victim

Abdul Samad Amiri is not the first victim of the human rights commission of Afghanistan.

Professor Hamida Barmaki, former Commissioner of the AIHRC, Mr. Ansari Baluch, former Head of the Ghor Provincial Office, Mr. Imran Aziz, Deputy Director of the Children Rights Unit and Mr. Shafiqullah Naseri, Receptionist of the Regional Office of Nangarhar Province have been the victims of terrorist attacks in recent years in Afghanistan‏.

The human rights commission also commemorated the other victims of the commission and assured citizens of its sustained commitment and work for the promotion and protection of human rights in Afghanistan, despite the difficult circumstances.\

Ahmad Shah Karimi contributed reporting.

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