As the Taliban retake control of Afghanistan with astonishing speed, many Afghans fear for their lives and their liberties. Particularly at risk are human rights defenders, women activists and professionals, journalists, civil servants, and those who worked with international entities. FIDH, a 192 member-strong federation of human rights organisations from 117 countries around the globe, is working tirelessly to evacuate some of Afghanistan’s most eminent human rights leaders, wielding its influence to mobilise international decision makers, and gathering and conveying information about what is unfolding.
As evacuation efforts come to an end, following the announcement by several diplomatic missions that they would cease their flights, FIDH calls for the continuation of transfers by specially trained armed forces and protection of several prominent human rights activists.
Foreign military forces in Kabul have so far failed to prioritise human rights figures, who are the first voices the Taliban are prepared to silence and who have been targeted ceaselessly. Initial waves of Taliban arrests of civil society leaders confirm this. We call on the remaining special forces to be deployed to reach these figures and transport them to the airport where they can be safely evacuated.
THEY STOOD UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS. NOW WE STAND UP FOR THEM.
OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr, an FIDH member organisation operating in Afghanistan, has shaped a generation of human rights defenders in Afghanistan. It has brought together progressive minds to take grassroots action, strives to develop a culture of human rights, support women’s political participation and create and seize platforms to address human rights violations and avenues of accountability both at the domestic, regional, and international levels. Now, many of its staff — people who have courageously and relentlessly worked to promote human rights — are trapped in the country, at serious risk of being targeted precisely because of such work.
FIDH’s international secretariat and OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr are moving heaven and earth to get them to safety — a major undertaking involving nonstop behind-the-scenes coordination and logistical efforts.
“Defending vulnerable human rights defenders is a moral duty. They have to help us get these people out."
Guissou Jahangiri, FIDH Vice President and Executive Director of OPEN ASIA-Armanshahr
FIDH and its member organisation OPEN ASIA-Armanshahr are highlighting a series of portraits featured several years ago, "Unveiling Afghanistan: The Unheard Voices of Progress," aiming to spark discussion and debate about building a society that protects women’s rights and human rights more broadly. Eighty interviews with social, political, and cultural actors were published in the Huffington Post and in the major Afghan daily newspaper, 8 Sobh, and on OPEN ASIA’s website (in Dari). You can find their names and links to their stories here.
Already, OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr is laying the groundwork to empower exiled Afghans to continue their human rights work, preparing work spaces, material and psychological support, and the tools to help human rights defenders stay united and active despite their ordeal.
With an advocacy team present in Paris, Geneva, and Brussels, and members around the globe poised for action, FIDH is a voice of conscience, speaking up for the protection civilians, respect for human rights and accountability for violations, the restoration of constitutional order, and the establishment of a clear timeline toward free and fair elections that reflect the will of the Afghan people.
In recent weeks, reports have already begun emerging of human rights violations in Taliban-controlled areas, including attacks on human rights defenders and journalists, the closure of schools, and reprisals against civilians who worked for the Afghan government or foreign governments. FIDH is prompting the international community — from the United Nations (UN) Security Council and the UN Human Rights Councilto foreign ministers and the European Union — to closely monitor the situation and act swiftly to prevent a full-blown human rights catastrophe.
JUSTICE FOR AFGHANISTAN
Unspeakable international crimes have been committed in Afghanistan, affecting hundreds of thousands of victims. Yet there is no genuine accountability process, including before domestic courts. This is where the “court of last resort” has a key role: in March 2020, the International Criminal Court’s Appeals Chamber unanimously decided to authorise an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity — a monumental decision that renewed survivors’ hopes. FIDH — one of the civil society groups that advocated for the creation of an International Criminal Court — documents crimes and advocates for victims’ rights and their involvement in justice processes.
Given the gravity of the crisis at hand, FIDH urges the international community to press Afghanistan’s de facto government to unequivocally support the ICC’s investigation.
While FIDH fights for human rights in Afghanistan through emergency coordination and high-level advocacy, such a crisis gives rise to humanitarian needs on a vast scale. While we are not a humanitarian organisation, we want to shed light onto the incredibly important work being undertaken by such organisations — and ways that you can get involved. In addition to supporting FIDH’s work, check out the following organisations and initiatives that are making a difference.
OPEN ASIA is accepting donations to support human rights defenders and women’s rights activists in their relocation.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is continuing to provide medical care in Herat, Helmand, Kandahar, Khost, and Kunduz provinces.
Get involved to help newly arrived people feel at home and integrate with makesense’s Réaction programme.
Learn more by watching ARTE’s four-part documentary Afghanistan - Pays meurtri par la guerre.
The International Rescue Committee provides humanitarian aid and relief in Afghanistan and is serving recently arrived Afghan refugees and Afghans with special immigrant visas. IRC is accepting monetary contributions and in-kind donations.
The International Refugee Assistance Project is accepting donations to help provide legal services to incoming Afghan refugees.
International Media Support and Afghan Journalists Safety Committee work to keep media workers safe.
Afghanaid is helping some of the poorest and most remote communities in Afghanistan who have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the conflict.
Save the Children is providing aid to displaced families, providing them with vital items such as clothes for children, blankets, and household items.
Sign a petition urging U.S. President Biden to support the most vulnerable in Afghanistan and lift refugee quotas.
Sign a petition urging French President Emmanuel Macron to make France a refuge for Afghan women’s rights defenders.