AFGHANISTAN « Don’t let the Taliban take us back to the stone age!”

Hasina Sadet, an activist of the Radical Left of Afghanistan (LRA), spoke at the meeting of the POID Working Women’s Commission on 11 March in Paris. She spoke about the situation of Afghan women since the US administration organised the return to power of the fundamentalist Taliban religious militia in August 2021.

Can you tell us about the latest initiatives of the Spontaneous Afghan Women’s Movement*?

During the week of March 8 (which was the start of the school and university year), our younger generation of female students, together with other female students, gathered in front of their former schools and universities to protest against their exclusion, by the Taliban, from all educational institutions. On 8 March, the Movement held small clandestine meetings in flats – not on the street, because all rallies were banned, and we were unable to organise larger demonstrations, especially in Kabul. At the moment, our comrades and activists are under close surveillance by the Taliban. Some are imprisoned and we are afraid that the Taliban will arrest other comrades. We support and join all women’s demonstrations.

In your speech at the meeting of the POID Women Workers’ Committee on 11 March in Paris, you warned that « not all those who oppose the Taliban are necessarily friends of women and the Afghan people ». What do you mean by this?

Not all forces that claim to act « on behalf of Afghan women » are necessarily working in their interests. Some of them are linked to imperialism and want to divert women’s struggles. For example, all the former women ministers of the last puppet government (in power during the twenty-year NATO occupation – ed. note) now claim to show a democratic face. They have built up a very good « business » and receive millions of dollars in subsidies from the imperialist powers. Beware of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that appear in the media to pretend they are working in the interests of women in Afghanistan.

The Biden administration, for example, uses Rina Amiri, an American citizen born in Afghanistan, as its « special envoy for women’s rights ». But these people are not to be trusted.

Other « women’s rights advocates » are linked to fundamentalist groups, opposed to the Taliban, but with whom they share the same medieval, antiwomen positions. These same fundamentalist leaders, like the Taliban leaders, send their children – boys and girls – to study at good universities in England, Dubai, Qatar or Pakistan.

Is international solidarity essential to your struggle?

Afghan women are being tortured, pressured, they have no basic rights. We are asking women at the international level to support our movement, not to leave us alone. Let them help us to get out of this situation, to get our rights: education, work and freedom. Don’t let us live in darkness, don’t let them take us back to the stone age!

* The Spontaneous Afghan Women’s Movement was founded a few weeks after the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021. It organises women’s protests for their rights throughout the country.

Join the International Committee to Defend Afghan Women by visiting its website: https://defendafghanwomen.org/