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Protest Against Exclusion of Women from Doha Meeting: Call for Sanctions and Campaign to Recognize Gender Apartheid

By Amin Kawa

June 24, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZì

On the eve of the third Doha Meeting hosted by the United Nations, the agenda and composition of this summit have sparked widespread protests and criticism. Numerous human rights organizations and Afghan civil activists worldwide have condemned the exclusion of women from this meeting as “shocking” and contrary to the UN Charter. Additionally, hundreds of Afghan citizens in various cities globally have called for global demonstrations, labeling the Doha Meeting as a “deal with terrorism.” Concurrently, civil activists have launched a campaign demanding official recognition of gender apartheid in Afghanistan.

Several political and civil activists have described the exclusion of women, civil organizations, and democratic forces from this meeting as a UN failure, emphasizing that this action contradicts UN Security Council Resolution 2721.

Reactions From Human Rights Bodies And Activists To The Exclusion Of Women From The Doha Meeting

Tirana Hassan, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, has termed the exclusion of women’s rights issues and the non-invitation of women to the Doha Meeting as “disturbing.” She criticized vehemently, stating that excluding women risks legitimizing the Taliban and undermines the credibility of the United Nations irreparably.

Meanwhile, Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, in response to the removal of women’s rights from the agenda of the third Doha Meeting, remarked that without the participation of human rights defenders and women, the meeting lacks credibility. She emphasized that women’s rights in Afghanistan are non-negotiable and that women should be central to the UN summit in Doha.

Callamard deemed the sidelining of human rights issues in this meeting as unacceptable, warning that accommodating Taliban demands for their participation risks legitimizing a repressive regime that has ruthlessly marginalized women and stripped them of their fundamental rights.

Other human rights activists and political figures have labeled the exclusion of women’s rights from the Doha Meeting as disappointing and acquiescent to Taliban demands. They argue that the international community, in engaging with this group, has disregarded democratic values and UN resolutions.

Sima Samar, former head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, told The Guardian that excluding women representatives from the Doha Meeting is an indirect surrender to Taliban demands. She stated, “Law, democracy, and sustainable peace are not possible without considering half of society, which are women. I don’t think we’ve learned anything from past mistakes.”

Habiba Sarabi, a former member of Afghanistan’s negotiating team with the Taliban, remarked that international interaction with the Taliban prioritizes their agenda over Afghan women, democracy, and other issues.

Heather Barr, Women’s Rights Division Co-Director at Human Rights Watch, commented on the exclusion of women from the Doha agenda, describing it as exacerbating the most serious crisis in women’s rights globally. She described the UN’s action as a move to lure the Taliban to negotiation tables, questioning its efficacy after three years of diplomatic engagement.

She further stated, “The only acceptable explanation is that they [the United Nations] are doing this to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, but for what purpose? Three years of diplomatic engagement have yielded nothing so far.”

Ms. Barr emphasized that this action by the United Nations has emboldened the Taliban and granted them legitimacy. According to her, excluding women from the Doha meeting’s agenda is a significant political victory for the Taliban. She told The Guardian, “This is a betrayal not only to women of Afghanistan but to women worldwide.”

Naseer Ahmad Faiq, the Acting Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, criticized the agenda and composition of the third Doha meeting during a UN Security Council session. He stated that excluding women, civil society, and human rights activists from this meeting violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Security Council resolutions. He emphasized that the situation for women in Afghanistan is dire and that the normalization of a gender apartheid regime should not occur.

Additionally, Robert Wood, the Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations, called for the inclusion of representatives of women of Afghanistan and civil society in the third Doha meeting. He cited UN agencies, stating that the Taliban’s behavior towards women reflects a systematic violation of human rights and the UN Charter.

Call for Global Protests to Sanction Doha Meeting

Scores of civil activists and members of women’s protest movements have issued a call for global protests to sanction the Doha Meeting. They stated that this call is a protest against dealing with terrorism. The call has been sent as separate letters to the United Nations, countries participating in the Doha Meeting, the European Union Parliament, and prominent global figures to stand alongside the people of Afghanistan.

Signatories of this call claim: “Steps towards the international legitimacy of the Taliban are expected to be taken. We have no other way but to raise our voices extensively. Read this call and by signing and sharing it, be a part of this voice; a part of the voice of people who are silently suffering under the oppression and violence of the Taliban terrorist group.”

Women’s protest movements, in republishing the call to sanction the Doha Meeting, stated that the Taliban are fundamentally “a terrorist, totalitarian group, and anti-human values.” According to them, the Taliban have imposed gender apartheid in Afghanistan and have no relation with the “social fabric, popular forces, and civil society of Afghanistan.”

Signatories of this call added: “Any negotiation with war criminals, perpetrators of crimes against humanity, agents of gender apartheid, and indeed all those who have mocked transitional justice is not a dialogue but considered a deal.”

In a section of this call, it is stated: “We, protesting women, civil activists, human rights defenders, and the people of Afghanistan, while standing against the invitation of the terrorist Taliban group and their presence at the Doha Meeting, warn the United Nations, participating countries in the meeting, and international human rights organizations that dealing with the Taliban is a deal against all human values and rights.”

They continue to demand the criminalization and formal recognition of the gender apartheid regime in Afghanistan. According to these civil activists, the Taliban systematically pursue genocide against religions and beliefs other than their own in Afghanistan.

Campaign For The Formal Recognition Of Gender Apartheid In Afghanistan

Scores of political figures, cultural activists, media personnel, and protesting women have called for the formal recognition of gender apartheid in Afghanistan by posting their photos on social networks. They have urged the global community to recognize the gender apartheid imposed by this group instead of providing a platform for legitimizing the Taliban and criminalizing it under international law.

Parwana Ibrahimkhel Najrabi, a women’s rights activist, told Hasht-e Subh Daily that over the past nearly three years, the Taliban have systematically and purposefully marginalized women by implementing multiple orders and excluding them from all spheres of public life. According to her, the discriminatory and systematic behavior of the Taliban towards women is in complete contrast with international laws and human rights declarations. She emphasizes that the international community must recognize gender apartheid to hold the Taliban accountable for their repeated crimes.

Karima Bennoune, an international law professor in the United States and a former UN rapporteur, who has joined this campaign, said that women under Taliban rule in Afghanistan are fighting against severe, institutionalized, and systematic gender-based oppression.

This international law professor stated that it is time for international law to pay attention to these women and support their struggle for their rights. In addition, she has shared posts from women and girls on her X (former Twitter) page on this matter.

Shannon Raj Singh, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on War Crimes and former Human Rights Advisor, expressed pride in standing alongside the brave women and girls of Afghanistan and Iran, international lawyers, and human rights defenders to urge the global community to criminalize gender apartheid.

Daoud Naji, a political activist, wrote on his X (former Twitter) page that the responsibility of men in the fight against gender apartheid is greater than that of women. According to him, gender apartheid is a product of a masculine mindset and is enforced on society by men.

Mr. Naji emphasized that “the victims of gender apartheid are not just women, but it is a tragedy that strikes every community, tearing down its homes from their foundations.”

Earlier, Amnesty International and Richard Bennet, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, called for the criminalization of gender apartheid.



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