Civil society gathering calls for trust-building

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The participants at the second day of the consultative gathering of the Afghan civil society called for trust-building between the Islamic Emirate and different areas, particularly civil society activists.

The gathering was held for two days in Kabul, and more than 283 representatives of civil society, Islamic scholars, tribal elders and families of war victims from across the country participated.

“The fundamental rights of citizens based on Islamic values and Afghan tradition, such as providing education for boys and girls at all levels, as well as women’s access to work (were discussed),” said Mustafa Sadeqi, a civil society activist.

The Ministry of Information and Culture welcomed the gathering and called for cooperation of the participants with the government to find a solution to the Afghan crisis.

“There may be some problems. But the problems will be solved through cooperation and consultation with Ulema, scholars, tribal elders and our sisters,” said Atiqullah Azizi, deputy Minister of Information and Culture.

The meeting also focused on existing economic challenges, creating jobs and aiding businesses, as well as girls’ access to education.

The participants said the activities of the civil society are important for tackling the current crisis in the country.

“The organizations held duscussions with the Islamic Emirate to facilitate development for the country to benefit the people,” said Abdul Rahim Khuram, a civil society activist.

The Afghan civil society consultative gathering was held for two days at the Serina Hotel of Kabul. The meeting was the first since the Islamic Emirate came to power.

An already dire situation for Afghanistan’s human rights community has significantly worsened over recent months, with “no fewer than 11 human rights defenders and media workers killed in targeted attacks between the start of peace negotiations on September 12, 2020, and January 31, 2021, according to figures from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),” the report said.

“The announcement of the joint commission was a vital step towards providing human rights defenders across the country with the support and security they so desperately need. But it’s a body that currently exists in name only. In more than three months, during which we have witnessed a frenzied escalation of killings, attacks and threats against activists, the Commission has made no tangible progress or taken any meaningful action,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

“This delay has already cost lives and there is no sign of the violence abating. The Joint Commission must urgently expedite its work and prioritize the immediate security needs of human rights defenders, investigate all cases of threats, attacks and other forms of intimidation, and hold those responsible to account,” said the Amnesty statement.

“Amnesty International is also calling on the joint commission to ensure that, where necessary, human rights defenders are provided with adequate protection measures including relocation, relief and psychosocial support,” the statement said.

According to UNAMA figures, 14 human rights defenders were killed in Afghanistan in 2020. This includes Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, CEO of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan, who was shot and killed on December 23, 2020, in morning rush-hour traffic in Kabul along with his driver, days after the joint commission was established.

The following day, women’s rights activist Freshta Kohistani and her brother were killed in Kapisa province by unknown gunmen traveling on a motorbike. Days before her death, Kohistani had posted on Facebook that she had asked the authorities for protection due to the threats she was receiving.

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