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Mainstream, VOL LX No 8, New Delhi, February 12, 2022

Afghan Women: Speech of Hodda Khamosh at European Parliament

Saturday 12 February 2022



Ladies and gentlemen,

Before I begin my speech, please join me in taking twenty seconds of silence to pause and honor the sacrifices of women of Afghanistan and all atrocities they have gone through in their resistance against the repression of the Taliban.

Greeting Ladies and gentlemen,

I am here to represent the women’s protest movement in Afghanistan. As we speak, my country Afghanistan is going through its most severe stage of economic collapse, getting the country into a humanitarian disaster but worst yet, the extreme form of human rights violation. These days, freedom has no longer any value, and human rights are meaningless words.

It has been six months since the world had abandoned us in the hands of a group they once called terrorist. Atrocities people have suffered since then are beyond countless. I will try to give you a few examples and kindly ask you to compare them with the Declaration of Human Rights:

1. The Taliban have taken away any form of freedom and have divided citizens into two groups: Us versus Them. People who do not belong to their ethnic groups face systematic discrimination. Their lands have been confiscated and they have been forced to move

2. People, especially women and children, are directly subjected to harassment, humiliation, and all kinds of physical and psychological torture. Families are forced to provide food for the Taliban soldiers while they do not have enough food for themselves and have zero access to essential health and social services.

3. People are systematically silenced and censored. Taliban kill or imprison anyone who criticizes their wrongdoings. Forouzan and her companions in Mazar-e-Sharif, Alieh Azizi, and dozens of other women in Herat, Parvaneh Ebrahimkhel, Tamana Zaryab Pariani with her sisters and hundreds of other women in Kabul, examples of this suffocation are widespread.

4. Women are systematically discriminated against, millions of girls are banned from going to schools, and hundreds and thousands of women working in public services have lost their jobs and are not allowed to work.

5. Even the right to emigration, which is the right of every human being, has been taken away from our people; the arrest of 40 men and women on charges of fleeing the country in Mazar-e-Sharif is one example.

This list can go on and on, but I will stop here to stay within the time limit. If you still are not persuaded by the depth of tragedy in my country, let me tell you this: parents sell their daughters to prevent starvation of their other children, and underage girls have become currency for food.

By the way, when was the end of the slavery era?

Forced and underage marriages, domestic violence, confinement of women within the walls of their houses, beatings, and humiliation of women in the streets, the repression of their civil protests by bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, and tasers are other examples of the misfortunes of women in Afghanistan. You might say we tried for 20 years, and it did not work. You might say that your problem is internal and cannot be solved. Yes, the problem in Afghanistan stems from internal issues, but it is the foreign intervention that has contributed to perpetuate injustice, inequality, discrimination, and sectarism in Afghanistan.

The world remained silent when our calls for justice and reforms were suppressed. When we shouted out that your aid money was benefiting terrorism in Afghanistan and paying bribes to warlords, the world did not listen to us. When we said that 80% of the people was forgotten and did do not benefit from this money, the world did not pay attention. When speaking our voice against, a corrupt and cheater leader, the world imposed him on us. The world remained silent about the frauds of a fugitive president, who not only ruined people’s belief in democratic national processes such as elections but the world also ignored our calls for justice. In the end, the world left us in the middle of the disaster where we had to hang from the wings of a plane to save our lives.

Now, tell me, who is blamed for all this tragedy?

You have a certain responsibility toward every woman beaten on the street or a girl killed under torture since you did not monitor your tax money being sent to Afghanistan, and you did not take a stand against wrong policies. I do not speak in a tactful, diplomatic language; I explicitly ask the world to open their eyes and observe what is happening in Afghanistan. Understand through your eyes and not just your ears because our leaders have lied to you for so long.

Our urgent demands are as follows:

1. The people of Afghanistan need urgent humanitarian assistance, but it should not be sent to the people through the Taliban. International organizations responsible for providing assistance should directly support women humanitarians so they can assist women and their families.

2. Put pressure on the Taliban to release the abducted women and girls immediately.

3. The European Parliament’s human rights section should provide the Afghan people with an email address and other specific addresses to document and keep a record of events in Afghanistan so that people can report human rights violations cases daily;

4. Oppression, repression, systematic gender, ethnic, religious, and sectarian discrimination must cease immediately;

5. Taliban fighters adhere to no civil principles. They have committed the most severe war crimes and crimes against humanity in the disputed areas in different parts of Afghanistan. The International Criminal Court must take these cases seriously;

6. An international conference led by the United Nations is urgently needed to give power back to the people and agree on a political solution to the current situation. The slogan (bread, work, freedom) is our basic human need, which is answered with bullets and tear gas by the Taliban. We are called corrupt, sold to the West, and prostitutes just for asking it.

Although we have learned that the smoke of paper reduces the burning of tear
gas, the question is:

In a world where the melting of polar ice is related to the smoke of a factory in Berlin and a factory in Kabul, why is the Afghan people’s suffering unrelated to the rest of the world?

Thank you for your attention.

Hoda Khamosh

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