On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on 25 November 2023, the Italian Coordination in Support of Afghan Women (CISDA), Large Movements aps and Altreconomia, together with the Afghan associations Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and Hambastagi (Solidarity Party) are addressing a petition to the attention of Italian, European and international institutions.
The petition has been launched a year after the dramatic withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan on 15 August 2021 which was the result of the Doha Agreement between the United States and the Taliban. The petition is the first stage of a mobilization campaign that involves 92 Italian and European associations and focusses on objectives shared with the two Afghan organizations. The four objectives identified in the petition are more significant than ever in the light of the latest developments:
1) Non-recognition of the de facto Taliban government
Despite formal assurances from governments and international institutions, we are witnessing a creeping recognition of the de facto government that translates into financial support through bilateral relations and economic contracts. Embassies of 15 countries are currently open in Kabul, including China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc.
The US, through its government development agency USAID, invested $825.9 million in Afghanistan in 2023 alone. In the form of emergency humanitarian aid, the EU allocated € 60 million in November 2023 for assistance within the country, in addition to other € 94 million already allocated for the same year. The UN has launched a plan that affects all the members of the United Nations: it requires $4.62 billion to assist about 23.7 million Afghans inside the country in 2023. A similar call for 2022 had been financed only by 52%, with $321 million received against the $623 million requested. These figures, although large, are insufficient in view of the gravity of the humanitarian disaster. But corruption at all levels, a distinctive feature of the era of the NATO occupation, has also continued in the Taliban era. Once again, only crumbs are coming to the population, while the failure to build essential infrastructure during the 20 years of Western occupation defeats all the help. In addition to pocketing most of the aid, the Taliban government is investing resources in strengthening its repressive apparatus, to the detriment of the population they are supposed to assist.
2) SELF-DETERMINATION OF THE AFGHAN PEOPLE
The cancellation of the rule of law, the denial of any form of democratic participation, the systematic violation of human rights, and gender apartheid, documented also by authoritative sources such as the UN (Special Rapporteur R. Bennet, 9/02/23 and 15/06/23) make extremely risky every social and political activity carried out by the civil opposition in the country. The interference in internal affairs by regional and global powers, each supporting one or another fundamentalist faction within or outside the Taliban galaxy, prevents democratic organizations from playing a role through politics. It emphasizes instead the attacks and armed actions perpetrated by the so-called “resistance” fundamentalists. The petition demands that sanctions are imposed on states supporting Taliban militias or other terrorist groups.
3) POLITICAL RECOGNITION OF PROGRESSIVE AFGHAN FORCES
Progressive forces, such as RAWA and HAMBASTAGI, who support human rights and stand up for women, must be recognized as political interlocutors by the European Union and national governments in Europe. The fact that they are systematically ignored by international institutions makes them more vulnerable. Yet they are surrounded by a network of human rights activists, composed mainly of women’s organizations, who are still resisting and working in all the provinces, developing projects of civil resistance (secret schools, humanitarian support, health support, etc.). We demand that they are supported. On the contrary, representatives of previous corrupt and fundamentalist governments, who have enjoyed the benefits of the occupation and have been safely evacuated, must not be acknowledged as representative of the Afghan population.
4) SUPERVISING RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Following the reports of the UN Human Rights Council of 2023 cited above and the documented investigations of several international agencies, such as Amnesty International and HRW, the responsibility for human rights violations and crimes against humanity must be ascertained so that any violation is brought to the attention of the International Criminal Court. The European authorities, in cooperation with UN agencies, must establish an independent investigative body involving Afghan and international human rights activists. In particular, the crime of gender apartheid, as advocated by many quarters, must be pursued with determination. In recent weeks, we have witnessed forced expulsions of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, and the unacceptable procedures by Western states, which use bureaucratic stratagems to prevent millions of refugees from gaining access to the right of asylum: these are only the latest massive violations of human rights that affect the Afghan population, and they expose especially women to further serious risks of violence.
The petition has been signed by 92 Italian and European civil society organizations and 2 Afghan organizations, and by more than 4,300 Italian, European and non-European citizens.
Some institutions such as the Equal Opportunities Commission of the Municipality of Imola, the Municipalities of L’Aquila, Modena, Fano, have decided to directly demonstrate their support for the Campaign and the Petition by passing motions. Other local institutions, such as the Tuscany Region, the province of Siena, the city of Cesena, have expressed their solidarity in different forms.
After handing over the collected signatures to the petition recipients, the campaign remains active: a reversal of the trend towards the realization of universal rights, and women rights in particular, requires a joint, supportive and lasting commitment. This is why we will continue to involve civil society, social and political forces, and to exert all pressure, strongly calling the institutions to their role as guarantors of rights.
Signatures: CISDA Ets, LARGE MOVEMENTS Aps, ALTRECONOMIA, RAWA, HAMBASTAGI
See the website of the Platform for viewing the full text and signatory organizations: https://www.standupwithafghanwomen.eu/
On December 4th at 6pm, follow the online meeting of the promoting Associations at this link https://meet.google.com/hei-gsfi-avd