formerly known as
Womens Liberation Front


Welcome to, formerly known as.Womens Liberation Front.  A website that hopes to draw and keeps your attention for  both the global 21th. century 3rd. feminist revolutution as well and a selection of special feminist artists and writers.

This online magazine will be published evey six weeks and started February 1st. 2019. Thank you for your time and interest.

Gino d'Artali
chief editor
and radical feminist











                                                                                                            CRYFREEDOM 2019/2020


Part 4 October 2021 and some time back
This part: Girls and women keep fighting for education!

Part 3 Sept 30 untill Back to August 5 2021

Part 2 August 27 untill Sept 15 2021: the resistence is becoming bigger and spreading more in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's Women Resistence Part 1
July 7 untill August 18 2021


 International media about the atrocities
against women worldwide.

Part 8
October 2021 and some time back.

Part 1 to 7












Afghan Girls and Women keep fighting for education!

My mother (1931-1997) always said to me <Mi figlio, non esistono notizie <vecchie> perche puoi imparare qualcosa da qualsiasi notizia.> Translated:
<My son, there is no such thing as so called 'old' news because you can learn something from any news.>
Gianna d'Artali

Al Jazeera
29 Oct 2021

<<Afghanistan’s girls learn, code ‘underground’ amid Taliban curbs.
Hundreds of girls and women continue to learn – some online and others in hidden makeshift classrooms – despite closure of schools.

Cooped up at home in Afghanistan’s Herat city, Zainab Muhammadi reminisces about hanging out with her friends in the cafeteria after coding class. Now she logs on every day to secret online lessons. Her school shut down after the Taliban took control of the country in August. But that did not stop Muhammadi from learning. <There are threats and dangers to girls like me. If the Taliban get to know … they might punish me severely. They might even stone me to death,> said Muhammadi, who requested to use a pseudonym to protect her identity.
<But I have not lost hope or my aspirations. I am determined to continue studying,> the 25-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on a video call.
She is one of an estimated hundreds of Afghan girls and women who are continuing to learn – some online and others in hidden makeshift classrooms – despite the Taliban’s closure of their schools.
Fereshteh Forough, the CEO and founder of Code to Inspire (CTI) – Afghanistan’s first all-female coding academy – created encrypted virtual classrooms, uploaded course content online, and gave laptops and internet packages to about 100 of her students, including Muhammadi.
<You can be locked at home (and) explore the virtual world without any hesitation, without worrying about geographical boundaries. That’s the beauty of technology,> she said.

In September, the government said older boys could resume school, along with all primary-age children, but told older girls roughly aged 12 to 18 to stay home until conditions permitted their return.
The Taliban, which barred girls from education during their last rule about 20 years ago, has promised it will allow them to go to school as it seeks to show the world it has changed.
A senior United Nations official who met the Taliban earlier this month said the government was working on a framework, which would be published by the end of the year.
<The education gains of the past two decades must be strengthened, not rolled back,> said Omar Abdi, deputy executive director of the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF.

Missed opportunities

After the Taliban was removed in 2001, school attendance rose rapidly, with more than 3.6 million girls enrolled by 2018, according to UNICEF.
The number going to university, now in the tens of thousands, also jumped. Nearly six percent of women were accessing tertiary education in 2020, up from 1.8 percent in 2011.
Nonetheless, the country has one of the world’s biggest education gender gaps, with UNICEF saying girls account for 60 percent of the 3.7 million Afghan children out of school.>>
Read more here:

26 Oct 2021

<<Afghan baby girl sold for $500 by starving family

Afghanistan is facing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world, with the country seeing a sharp deterioration in the situation since the Taliban
seized power in August.
International funds which propped up the country’s fragile economy have been stopped as the world debates how to deal with the Taliban regime.
The United Nations has issued a stark warning – that millions will die if urgent aid does not reach the country soon.
In this video, the BBC's Yogita Limaye travels to a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Herat, in the west of the country, and rural areas out of the city, and witnesses first-hand the dire situation on the ground.

Video produced by Imogen Anderson
and filmed and edited by Sanjay Ganguly
Watch here:

Al Jazeera
28 Oct 2021

<<Freedom of the Press
Watchdog: 30 recent cases of violence against Afghan journalists.
The Afghanistan National Journalists Union says 90 percent of violence against journalists committed by the Taliban.

More than 30 instances of violence and threats of violence against Afghan journalists were recorded in the last two months, with nearly 90 percent
committed by the Taliban, says a media watchdog.
More than 40 percent of the cases recorded by the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) were physical beatings and another 40 percent were verbal threats of violence, Masorro Lutfi, the group’s head, said on Wednesday.
The remainder involved cases in which journalists were imprisoned for a day. One journalist was killed.
Most of the cases in September and October were documented in provinces across Afghanistan outside the capital, Kabul, but six of the 30 cases of violence took place in the capital, ANJU said.
Lutfi, in a news conference on Wednesday, said while most of the instances of violence – or threats of violence – were perpetrated by Taliban
members, three of the 30 cases were carried out by unknown people.
The report comes as Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers attempt to open diplomatic channels with an international community largely reluctant to formally recognise their rule. They are trying to position themselves as responsible rulers, who promise security for all.
Taliban deputy cultural and information minister and spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press news agency they are aware of the
cases of violence towards journalists and are investigating in order to punish the perpetrators.
<The new transition and unprofessionalism of our friends caused it,> said Mujahid, promising the problem will be solved.

The ISIL (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for an attack by gunmen in early October in which journalist Sayed Maroof Sadat was killed in eastern
Nangarhar province along with his cousin and two Taliban members.
Since the withdrawal of the US forces in late August, three journalists including Sadat have been killed in Afghanistan.
Alireza Ahmadi, a reporter of Raha News Agency, and Najma Sadeqi, an anchor at Jahan-e-Sehat TV channel, were killed in a suicide attack at Kabul airport during the evacuation.
Taliban officials have repeatedly urged the media to follow Islamic laws but without elaborating. Lutfi said his group is working on a bill with media outlets and Taliban officials to enable the media to continue their daily operations.>>
Source: AP
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
27 Oct 2021
By Maziar Motamedi

<<Afghanistan’s neighbours gather in Tehran to discuss its future.
Iran says the main goal of the event is to emphasise the call for the formation of an ‘inclusive’ government in Afghanistan.

Tehran, Iran – Senior officials of Afghanistan’s neighbouring states have gathered in Iran’s capital for a one-day conference to discuss the situation in the Taliban-ruled country.
The foreign ministers of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan met on Wednesday in Tehran, joined by their counterparts from
China and Russia via video link.
Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber inaugurated the meeting, replacing President Ebrahim Raisi who was unable to do so due to <another urgent priority>. The conference came a day after Iran’s online petrol distribution software was hacked in a massive cyberattack that affected petrol stations across the country.
Mokhber told the conference that the <defeat of American policies> in Afghanistan does not mean that the United States is abandoning its
<destructive> policies across the region.

ISIL (ISIS), which Mokhber referred to as the <US proxy force in the region>, has now targeted security in Afghanistan with the aim of instigating a civil war, he added. He was followed by the United Nations chief, Antonio Guterres, who said in a video link address recorded in New York that
Afghanistan is facing an <epic humanitarian crisis> which demands immediate action. He said the UN is engaging the Taliban, which has so far
provided access, to deliver humanitarian relief to people.
Guterres also said he is <deeply disturbed” by violations of human rights and attacks in the country since the Taliban takeover, and called for efforts to <combat terrorism> and drug trafficking.>>
Read more here:

The Guardian
26 Oct 2021
Voices for justice is supported by
Humanity United
Hannah Summers

<<Voices for justice
<<‘Gunmen killed a midwife who refused to leave a woman in labour’
Zahra Mirzaei pioneered ‘groundbreaking’ maternity services in Kabul, but has been forced to flee. She says she won’t stop fighting for dignified care for Afghanistan’s women and girls.

When Afghanistan’s first midwife-led birth centre opened in the impoverished district of Dasht-e-Barchi in western Kabul this year it was a symbol of hope and defiance. It began receiving expectant mothers in June, just over a year after a devastating attack by gunmen on the maternity wing at the local hospital left 24 people dead, including 16 mothers, a midwife and two young children.
For Zahra Mirzaei, its launch – along with a second birth centre in the east of the capital – marked the culmination of a decade advocating for
women’s birth rights. As president of the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA), Mirzaei was instrumental in establishing the midwife-led units
promoting an ethos of respectful, bespoke care away from an over-medicalised setting.
<In our country this approach to pregnant women is groundbreaking and there was a great feeling of hope when we opened our doors,> she says.
<Women who had previously experienced undignified, low quality care in poorly staffed hospitals were pleasantly surprised to discover there is
another way of doing things.>

The units in Dasht-e-Barchi and Arzan Qimat were established with technical support and training from the Europe-based Midwifery Unit Network
(MUNet) and funding from two NGOs which we cannot name for security reasons.
In the initial weeks the centres, staffed with a total of 75 midwives, were each welcoming 10 to 13 newborns a day. But as word spread, increasing numbers arrived and this soon climbed to 25 to 30.
By late July, Mirzaei was preoccupied with how to manage the rise in cases. But her work was overshadowed by a growing awareness of the Taliban’s military offensive, which had gathered unexpected pace.
News of the Afghan government’s imminent collapse amid the withdrawal of US troops was, to Mirzaei, personally and professionally shattering.
<Suddenly everything I had worked tirelessly for was under threat,> she says. As a Hazara Shia and a longstanding campaigner for women’s rights, the 33-year-old knew she and her three children were at risk.
<Previous Taliban governments have killed thousands of Hazara people without any reason. Also I knew my feminist work and belief in women’s
equality would never be accepted by the Taliban regime,> says Mirzaei, who in 2020 was named one of 100 outstanding female nurses, midwives and leaders providing health services in difficult times by Women in Global Health.
As the US and its coalition partners scrambled to airlift thousands of people from the country, warnings were filtering through from Mirzaei’s home
town that she was a potential Taliban target.

On the day Kabul fell, plunging the country into turmoil, she left her office for the last time, fleeing in such a hurry she was unable to collect her
shoes. <We didn’t expect the situation to escalate so fast,> she says.
Later that night she was woken by the sound of her eight-year-old daughter sobbing: <I went to her and she said: ‘Mummy, I’m scared that when I’m 12 the Taliban will come and take me to get married and I won’t be able to go to school.’ That was so painful to hear that I promised there and then to get us out.>
After calling every contact she could think of, she heard from a friend in the US who could help. Mirzaei left home with her family at 1am on 23
August, still wearing the flimsy slippers in which she’d fled her office.
They spent a harrowing 12 hours waiting in a sewer near the airport before being rescued by US troops and airlifted to Qatar. From there they were
transferred to a refugee camp in southern Spain.
Speaking from the Spanish naval base in Rota, Mirzaei explains how leaving Afghanistan also meant, regrettably, stepping down as president of the AMA. While she was heartbroken to give up the role, she remains a member of the advisory board and is working remotely to support the organisation including her successor – a woman from a different ethnic group who is more likely to be accepted by the regime.
As the eighth girl of 10 siblings, Mirzaei understood from a young age that boys and girls were not seen as equal. <I had two brothers but my father wanted more boys and it made me sad girls were not allowed to reach their full potential in our community.> >>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
26 Oct 2021

<<Climate now a worse crisis than war for Afghanistan’s farmers.
Herders forced to sell livestock, farmers flee villages and parents marry daughters off at even younger age amid the crisis.

Drought stalks the parched fields around Afghanistan’s remote district of Bala Murghab, where the climate crisis is proving a deadlier foe than the
country’s recent conflicts. As the world watched the Taliban wage a stunning offensive that ended in the rapid collapse of the country’s western-
backed government, a longer-term crisis was building. In desperate attempts to feed their families, herders have been forced to sell their livestock, farmers to flee their villages, and parents marrying their daughters at ever younger ages.
<The last time I saw rain was last year, and there wasn’t much,> Mullah Fateh, the head of the Haji Rashid Khan village in Bala Murghab.
Communities cling to life in small clusters of mud-brick homes among an endless ocean of rolling brown hills in this corner of Badghis province, where
90 percent of the 600,000-strong population live off livestock or fields, according to humanitarian agency ACTED.

<We sold sheep to buy food, others died of thirst,> said Fateh.
When the first of two recent droughts hit in 2018, he had 300 sheep, but as the latest dry spell bites, he is down to 20.>>
Read more here:

Note from Gino d'Artali: Farmers have wifes and children too.


Al Jazeera
22 Oct 2021
Al M Latifi

<<Afghan journalists lament ‘bleak’ future for media under Taliban.
New regime forces exodus of journalists from Afghanistan where a free press was one of the few real gains of Western occupation.

Shabir Ahmadi started his job at TOLO TV, Afghanistan’s largest private broadcaster, during one of the darkest days for the media in the war-torn
nation: January 21, 2016.
The evening before, a Taliban suicide bomber had killed a graphic designer, video editor, set decorator, three dubbing artists and a driver who worked for TOLO’s entertainment wing.
When he arrived at the TOLO office the next morning, the guards at the door were confused and still grief-stricken. They had no idea what to do with Ahmadi. They looked at the then 24-year-old, who had just ended his job with TOLO’s main rival, 1TV, and asked him if he was <crazy> to start work at a network that had come under direct attack only hours ago. Because the news never stops, not even when your organisation becomes the news, Ahmadi started his job less than a week later.

Everything changed on August 15

After that, reporting on the deaths of their colleagues by suicide bombers, unidentified gunmen and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) became a
routine as the Taliban, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) and unknown armed groups continued to target journalists over the next five years. Still, Ahmadi and thousands of other media workers across Afghanistan, most of them in their 20s and 30s, continued their work
undeterred. Newsrooms and production houses full of young men and women worked together to make the country’s media the freest in the region, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) watchdog.

But all that changed on August 15.

First came the news that former President Ashraf Ghani and top cabinet officials had fled the country. Then came reports that the Taliban, which had just entered the districts of Kabul province early that morning, was heading into the capital city.
Suddenly, the memories of the bombings and killings came flooding back. Ahmadi, who was then deputy head of news at TOLO, met the network’s top management and immediately came to two decisions.
<The first thing we did was send all the female staff home,> Ahmadi told Al Jazeera over the phone from Europe.
The other decision they made was controversial but necessary, he said. They immediately stopped broadcasting music and entertainment
programmes. The Turkish serials, game shows, singing competitions, talk shows and sketch comedy shows that millions of people tuned into every
evening came to a sudden end.
Though the Taliban had made no official declarations on programming at the time, Ahmadi said the decision was a preemptive one.
<If you understood the fear that night, you would see why we came to such a decision,> he told Al Jazeera.
Ahmadi said he now regrets that decision, but that at the time, it seemed like a necessary one. <We wanted to be the ones to cut them off, not the Taliban,> he said.
Ahmadi said he tried to work as a journalist in the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate, but it quickly became clear that would be too difficult. There were
reports of the Taliban torturing journalists, confiscating their equipment, beating them on the streets of main cities, jailing them for weeks at a time and instituting new restrictive media laws.
By September, Ahmadi was among hundreds of other Afghan journalists and media workers, including his TOLO colleagues, who had fled the country.
The exodus of journalists has led to serious questions about the future of the media in Afghanistan, where a free press was one of the few real gains to come out of 20 years of Western occupation.

Myanmar-like situation

Steven Butler, the Asia programme coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), says the current media situation in Afghanistan
resembles that of Myanmar. Like Afghanistan, Myanmar also experienced a recent political upheaval that saw the end of a controversial semi-
democratic Western-supported government and led to an immediate flight of the country’s media workers.
Butler fears that, like Myanmar, the future of Afghanistan’s media is <bleak>, but he understands why so many journalists left both the countries,
operating in exile.
<[It] is not ideal, but it is better than being in jail or killed,> he told Al Jazeera by telephone.
Though some Afghans have already resumed their work from abroad, Butler said Afghans will have a much more difficult time than the people of
Myanmar when it comes to restarting their work in exile.

<In Myanmar, there was already much more of a precedent and infrastructure for journalists to operate in exile,> he said.>>
Read more here:

And also read the by Al Jazeera written related articles with links to it on the same page :
‘Death knell’: Afghan journalists fear new Taliban media rules
‘Why are you out?’: Afghan women journalists recall Taliban sweep

And read also:
Pakistan eases travel restrictions, announces aid for Afghanistan
Pakistan to provide over $28m in immediate humanitarian aid and ease travel and trade restrictions at its land borders.

and why you should read? It might create a getaway for (female) journalists and women in danger.

Al Jazeera
20 Oct 2021

<<Russia hosts Taliban, calls for inclusive Afghan government.
Moscow welcomes the Taliban for international talks on Afghanistan but stops short of officially recognising the group.

Russia has called on the Taliban to form a government that includes all ethnic groups and political forces in Afghanistan, as the group attended a
round of talks in Moscow.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Wednesday’s conference in Moscow that the Kremlin recognises the Taliban’s <efforts> to try and stabilise the
situation in Afghanistan since taking power in mid-August. <A new administration is in power now,> Lavrov told the gathering. <We note their efforts to stabilise the military and political situation and set up work of the state apparatus.>
But he urged the group to now assemble an administration <reflecting the interests of not only all ethnic groups but all political forces> in
Afghanistan in order to achieve a stable peace in the country.
Officials from 10 countries, including China and Pakistan, are participating in the conference. Representatives from India, Iran, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are also attending.
The talks mark one of the Taliban’s most significant international meetings since it assumed control of Afghanistan and underline Moscow’s clout.
Lavrov said Moscow regretted the absence of the United States at the conference. Washington earlier said it would not join this round of talks due to technical reasons but planned to attend future discussions.

The Taliban delegation was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, a senior figure in the new Afghan leadership who led talks with the European Union and the US last week. Abdul said the meeting was <very important for the stability of the entire region.>

No recognition ‘for now’

The talks come after Moscow said on Tuesday that Russia, China and Pakistan are willing to provide aid to Afghanistan, which is now facing a looming humanitarian and economic crisis.
Lavrov said that Russia would soon send humanitarian aid and demanded the international community mobilise resources to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Adopting a cautious approach, Moscow has also made clear it is not yet ready to recognise the Taliban government.
Lavrov said the Kremlin was withholding recognition from the Taliban while waiting for the group to fulfil promises made when it took power, including on the political and ethnic inclusivity of the new government.
Critics have said the Taliban, which remains banned as a <terrorist> organisation in Russia, is backtracking on pledges to protect the rights of women and minorities. Observers said the group is also persecuting its foes, having publicly ruled this out.
<Official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now,> Lavrov told reporters. <Like most of other influential countries in the region, we are in contact with them. We are prodding them to fulfil the promises they made when they came to power.> >>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
19 Oct 2021

<<Afghanistan: Taliban agrees to door-to-door polio vaccine drive.
Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan are the last countries in the world with endemic polio, an incurable and highly infectious disease.

Health workers in Afghanistan will begin a house-to-house polio vaccination drive next month after the new Taliban government agreed to support the campaign, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund said.
<WHO and UNICEF welcome the decision by the Taliban leadership supporting the resumption of house-to-house polio vaccination across
Afghanistan,> they said in a statement on Monday.
Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan are the last countries in the world with endemic polio, an incurable and highly infectious disease transmitted through sewage that can cause crippling paralysis in young children.
Polio has been virtually eliminated globally through a decades-long inoculation drive. But insecurity, inaccessible terrain, mass displacement and
suspicion of outside interference have hampered mass vaccination in Afghanistan and some areas of Pakistan.
The UN agencies noted that only one case of wild poliovirus had been reported in Afghanistan since the start of the year, providing <an extraordinary opportunity to eradicate polio>.
<Restarting polio vaccination now is crucial for preventing any significant resurgence of polio within the country and mitigating the risk of cross-border and international transmission,> they said.>>
Read more here:

Comment by Gino d'Artali: On 30 March Al Jazeera publisched an online article with this header: <<Female polio vaccination workers shot dead in
Afghanistan: (Report can be read by clicking on the below URL) Gunmen kill three female health workers in eastern city of Jalalabad, government
sources tell Reuters news agency. The killings came on the second day of a new five-day door-to-door anti-polio vaccination drive launched in
Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan on Monday to vaccinate millions of children despite the risks posed by the coronavirus.
In Afghanistan, the campaign intends to inoculate about 9.6 million children in 32 out of the country’s 34 provinces, a health official said.
In the second anti-polio vaccination campaign this year, more than 55,000 workers would implement the vaccination for five days, according to the
Afghan Health Ministry’s polio coordinator, Mir Jan Rasikh.

However, there remains a big stumbling block in the Afghan polio drive. The Taliban, like in previous years, would not allow the home-to-home
campaign in areas under their control.
According to Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, the group is still in talks with the World Health Organization or WHO to reach an agreement about the programme in which workers go from door to door to carry out the inoculations.
In areas under Taliban control, the process is delayed because of security reasons, according to Mujahid.>>
Read more here:

And another comment by Gino d'Artali: when the taliban took over the power and control of Afghanistan they still cannot guarantee sicurity. And as an objective journalist I think they're just after more money from the WHO and UNICEF to use for their own means.
I'm sure this will get a follow up.

Al Jazeera
18 Oct 2021

<<Taliban says Afghan girls will return to secondary schools soon.
Spokesman for interior ministry tells Al Jazeera that all schools and universities in Afghanistan will reopen ‘in a very short time’.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs has said girls will be allowed to return to secondary schools soon. Saeed Khosty, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that the exact timing will be announced by the Ministry of Education.
<From my understanding and information, in a very short time all the universities and schools will be reopened and all the girls and women will return to school and their teaching jobs,> he said.
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, teenage girls were told to stay home from school until a <safe learning environment> could be
established. But boys in all grades and girls of primary age were told to return to school.
The exclusion of older girls has aggravated fears that the Taliban could be returning to their hardline rule of the 1990s, when women and girls were legally barred from education and employment.
Khosti <indicated that it was imminent that girls in secondary schools and their female teachers would be returning very soon,> said Al Jazeera’s
Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Kabul.
<This is something that we’ve been hearing from the Taliban since they took power. Yes, they’re going to return. But it’s going to take time. And of course, that’s taking a toll on a lot of the girls,> she said.
<They want to go back to school, they want to continue their studies. This is also one of the demands of the international community for the Taliban to protect and safeguard the rights of girls and women to go to school and to work.>

When the Taliban took power in August, the armed group promised to uphold the rights of girls and women. But its actions since have worried the
international community. It has sent mixed signals about women returning to work in government offices and has forced universities to enact policies of gender segregation in order to reopen. It also named an all-male cabinet, saying women could be included later.
Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, earlier this month condemned the Taliban’s <broken> promises to Afghan women and girls, and appealed to the group to fulfil their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.
<Broken promises leads to broken dreams for the women and girls of Afghanistan,” the UN chief said. “Women and girls need to be in the centre of attention.>

The Taliban’s rollback of women’s rights has also prompted criticism from Qatar and Pakistan, which have called on the international community to
engage with the Taliban.
At a news conference last month, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said it <has been very disappointing to see
some steps being taken backwards> by the Taliban.>>
Read more here:

Comment by Gino d'Artali: Indeed I since the beginning of August 2021 and the taliban taking over power their 'governing' is glued together by
outspoken lying promises.
Also read the related article as mentioned below.

Al Jazeera
By Maziar Motamedi

<<Iran to host multilateral conference on Afghanistan on October 27.
FMs of Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia to hold talks in Tehran.

Tehran, Iran – Tehran will host a meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours plus Russia next week, the country’s foreign ministry has confirmed, with the October 27 event witnessing the presence of all six foreign ministers. During a press conference on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced that in addition to Iran and Russia, the meeting will be attended by China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and
Turkmenistan, who all have land borders with Afghanistan. According to Khatibzadeh, the meeting will continue discussions that the countries had
during a virtual meeting held in early September.

<The six countries will be focused on how they can help form an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the presence of all ethnic groups, and how they can help shape a future of peace and security in Afghanistan,> said Khatibzadeh.
Since the Taliban took control of Kabul in mid-August, there has been a debate in Iran on whether the group has changed its ways since it was in
power more than 20 years ago. But Iran’s official position is that it wants an inclusive government and stability in its eastern neighbouring state,
something Tehran considers vital for its national security.
The calls have continued after the Taliban formed an administration that does not include ethnic and religious groups or women.

Iran has also harshly condemned the Taliban’s armed assault against resistance fighters in the Panjshir valley, and a series of explosions claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) armed group that have rocked Afghanistan in recent weeks.
Khatibzadeh said Iran has maintained contact with all parties in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.
<What is clear is that Taliban has a direct responsibility in maintaining peace and stability, and to preserve the health of all Afghan groups including the Hazaras and Shias,> he said. Earlier this year, Tehran hosted intra-Afghan talks that included the Taliban before the armed group took control of Afghanistan.
Iran has, however, refused to participate in any talks hosted or participated by the United States, which it says was a main cause of instability and violence in the country.>>
Read more here:

Comment by Gino d'Artali: That the above mentioned countries except Afghanistan in my opinion want this conference not, as they say, because they want an inclusive government incl. women on excutive post but moreso because of their geographical interest. An instable goverment i.e. country means unstable borders. Also, non of the Western countries accepts an Afghanistan ruled and 'governed' by the taliban.

Al Jazeera
By Priyanka Shankar
15 Oct 2021

<<Brussels, Belgium – It has been two months since Kabul fell to the Taliban and thousands are still trying to flee Afghanistan, in search of refuge.The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, recently warned that by the end of 2021, the humanitarian crisis could displace half a million more Afghans as it called on countries to keep their borders open.
But for European Union members, this warning brought flashbacks of the 2015 migration crisis, delaying a unified response on Afghan asylum.
<Back then, the EU was caught completely by surprise by the arrival of so many refugees,> Jeff Crisp, research associate at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre and associate fellow at Chatham House, told Al Jazeera. <Now with the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan, the priority of the EU is to prevent a repeat of that scenario.>
With the ghosts of the past influencing current migration decisions, European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas, who has been coordinating the bloc’s work on a migration and asylum pact, recently revealed a new report highlighting the EU’s plan to initiate a <regional political platform of cooperation with Afghanistan’s direct neighbours>, to handle the migration crisis.
<If we have learnt anything in recent years, it should be that flying solo on these issues is not an option,> Schinas told reporters in Brussels on
September 29.
According to Crisp, the thrust of Europe’s asylum policy has always been to externalise the management of refugees.
<The support the EU has provided the Libyan coastguard and countries like Turkey to limit the number of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to
reach European borders in the past, is something some EU leaders might argue has been beneficial for migration management. But it is in fact
extremely expensive and undermines basic human rights principles,> he said.

At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015-2016, the EU struck a deal with Turkey in 2016, under which the union allocated six billion euros ($6.96bn), paid in two instalments, to Turkey, for Ankara to stop Syrian migrants from crossing into European borders.
Similar cooperation is once again in the works.
<We discussed challenges resulting from the situation in Afghanistan and other areas of concern – challenges that can only be solved by working
together,> tweeted Ylva Johansson, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, after her recent visit to Ankara.

Catherine Woollard, director of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), argues that continuing externalisation in this manner, is a flaw in the EU’s migration strategy.
<We have to go beyond the money. As a part of the EU-Turkey deal of 2016, Turkey was able to construct barriers at its border with Syria and prevent Syrians from leaving. This also gave Turkey the power to do what it wants in Syria without opposition or reaction from EU countries.
So while EU money and security is given in exchange for migration controls, such an externalisation strategy gives leverage to countries that are also playing a role in generating the displacement of people, she said > >>
Read more hear:

Note from Gino d'Artali: it was only a few years after the EU made this deal with Turkey that I worked in a refugee camp in the Netherlands and one thing became very clear to me: the EU was more than happy if they with this deal could get rid of the refugees. At that time most of them came from Bosnia Herzegowina, Iran and indeed also Afghanistan. I, together with the refugees and the children I was working with, felt thrown in a pithole of betrayal and inhumanity!

Al Jazeera
15 Oct 2021

<<Afghan footballers and their families flown to Qatar.
Qatar, in coordination with FIFA, has evacuated almost 100 members of the football family from Afghanistan, including many female players, following complex negotiations.

Qatar, in coordination with FIFA, has evacuated almost 100 footballers and their families from Afghanistan, officials in Doha confirmed.
The group was flown from Kabul to Doha on a flight that carried 357 passengers on Thursday, among them many women athletes involved in football in Afghanistan. It was Qatar’s eighth and largest passenger evacuation flight from Kabul since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in late August.
Upon arriving in Qatar, the passengers were transported to a compound facility currently hosting other Afghan civilians and evacuees in the west of Doha.
FIFA confirmed it played a role in evacuating the athletes and their families <following complex negotiations> and <with the support of Qatar>.
Football’s ruling body said the footballers were <deemed to have been at the highest risk> before being flown to the Qatari capital.
Many female footballers had gone into hiding since the Taliban regained power in August, and a group of junior players managed to flee to Pakistan, and have now been given visas to go to Britain. Women were not allowed to participate in sport during the Taliban’s first reign that lasted until 2001.
<The FIFA leadership has been closely coordinating with the government of Qatar since August on the evacuation of the group, and will continue to work closely on the safe evacuation of further members of the sporting family in the future,> FIFA said.
<FIFA would like to express its sincere thanks to the government of Qatar for its support facilitating extensive discussions and for ensuring the safe passage of these individuals,> the football federation said.
Qatar’s Government Communications Office said the group of evacuees would have access to COVID-19 testing and would remain in Doha until
departing to their final destination.

<The State of Qatar will continue to work with international partners on efforts that ensure freedom of movement in Afghanistan, including through serving as an active mediator between various parties,> the GCO stated.

Quoted from

Al Jazeera
13 Oct 2021
Faras Ghani

Ban? No ban? Afghan cricket chief offers hope to women athletes.
Al Jazeera speaks to Afghanistan’s cricket chief on the future of female athletes in the country after the Taliban takeover.

Sport in Afghanistan faced an uncertain future following the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August this year. Hundreds of athletes, especially
female athletes, went into hiding or were evacuated from the country for fear of reprisal or being shunned by the new Taliban government.
Those outside the country feared the worst, having seen a complete ban on women’s sport when the armed group controlled Afghanistan from 1996
until the US-led invasion in 2001. A high-ranking Taliban official was recently quoted as saying that women will be banned from sport in the country
(although officials later claimed the statement was not translated accurately from Pushto).
However, while the Taliban has spoken of inclusivity in the government, a moderate attitude towards women and a promise to continue sporting
activities, current and former players remain sceptical and unsure of what the future may hold. Some women have said they are fighting a losing
battle to remain visible under the Taliban.
Al Jazeera spoke to the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s recently appointed Chairman Azizullah Fazli on the security situation, preparations for the World Cup and the future of women’s cricket in the country.
Al Jazeera: There have been a lot of concerns around the future of women’s sport, female athletes and the women’s cricket team. Has there been any directive from the Taliban government on what may happen?
Azizullah Fazli: We have spoken to the top Taliban government officials and their stance is that there is officially no ban on women’s sport, especially women’s cricket. They have no problem with women taking part in sport. We’ve not been asked to stop women from playing cricket. We’ve had a women’s team for 18 years, although it wasn’t a major team, we’re not on that level yet.
But what we need to keep in mind is our religion and culture. If women adhere to that [attire] there is no problem in them taking part in sporting
activities. Islam doesn’t allow women to wear shorts like the other teams do while playing football especially. That’s something we need to keep in mind.
A Taliban official also recently said sport and politics will be kept separate and those who understand the game and are technically well-versed will be appointed into relevant positions. The government has told us it will support us in any way needed.

Al Jazeera: The last couple of months have seen drastic changes in the political landscape in the country. How has sport been affected, especially
preparations for the cricket T20 World Cup?
Fazli: In sport, we’ve had no problems. We have been training and playing matches in the last two months, even after the Taliban government took over. They said they support cricket and are fully behind the development of the game. I’m a former cricketer and been involved with the cricket board for almost 15 years. I was chairman in 2018-2019 and when I was recently brought back, they assured me that there will be no political interference in cricket and sport.
Al Jazeera: But has the situation and the fall of the previous government changed anything?
Fazli: The situation in Afghanistan is great. There is peace, no fighting apart from isolated instances [such as a recent Kunduz attack where more
than 50 people died in a mosque bomb attack]. These isolated instances happen all over the world. In the months prior to the Taliban takeover, we had hundreds killed daily. Now there is no war, no fighting. The security situation is great and the future is bright from Afghanistan cricket.>>
Read more here:

Comment from Gino d'Artali: Let's wait and see. The most important remains that women can lead a safe life and girls/women can continue their

Al Jazeera
13 Oct 2021
Ali M Latifi

<<Afghanistan’s girls lament continued closure of high schools.
Afghan girls, who have been confined to their homes, urge the Taliban not to snatch their right to education.

Kabul, Afghanistan – Kabul resident Rahela Nussrat, 17, is in her final year of high school, but she has not been able to attend classes. The reason:
Afghanistan’s new rulers have decided to keep teenage girls out of school for now. Last month, the Taliban announced schools would be opening, but only boys of all ages were asked to return to school, leaving out secondary school girls. The move has raised questions about the group’s policy about women’s education.
The Taliban said <a safe learning environment> was needed before older girls could return to school, adding that schools will reopen as <soon as
possible>, without giving a timeframe.
<Education is one of the most fundamental human rights, but today, that basic right has been taken from me and millions of other Afghan girls,>
Nussrat told Al Jazeera. Afghanistan had struggled to get girls back into school during the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani.
According to a 2015 survey (PDF) prepared for UNESCO by the World Education Forum, nearly 50 percent of Afghan schools lacked usable buildings.
More than 2.2 million Afghan girls were unable to attend school as recently as last year – 60 percent of the total children out-of-school in the country.
The Taliban’s lack of clarity on the reopening of secondary schools has compounded the problem and is a blow to millions of girls, especially those
whose families thought the end of the war could return to some semblance of normal life.
<When the Afghan government fell, I lost my right to education, this was the first time I cried specifically because of my gender,> Nussrat said.
She said she still does not understand the reasoning for only keeping teenage girls from education, but she is certain that if it continues, it will only backfire on the Taliban. <They kept saying they want young people to stay and use their talents, but they’re just driving us all out,> Nussrat said by phone from her Kabul home.
Thousands of young Afghans fled the country after the Taliban returned to power on August 15, 20 years after it was removed from power in a US-led military invasion.
Nussrat viewed herself as an example, saying she is currently preparing for English-language exams so she can apply for study abroad opportunities.As someone who managed to come from one of the nation’s poorest provinces, Daikundi, where even boys drop out of school as teenagers to start working as day labourers, Nussrat said the Taliban is losing out on entire generations of driven, determined young people.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
By John Psaropoulos
8 Oct 2021

<<Afghan MPs, in exile, pledge to work for women’s rights.
Female legislators forced to flee following the Taliban’s takeover arrive in Greece as they plan to relocate to the West.

Athens, Greece – When Taliban fighters ransacked Shagufa Noorzai’s home on August 29, she was not there.
The member of parliament from Helmand province had gone into hiding following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on August 15, as US and NATO troops were withdrawing from the country after 20 years of war.
<I was in a windowless room for 15 days,> she told Al Jazeera. <Even my family didn’t know where I was … The Taliban told my father, ‘tell her to
come out of hiding and we will work with her’.>
Homa Ahmadi, who represented Logar province in parliament three times, said <They [the Taliban] are going to kill people who were working in
government and they will do it quietly.> <They break into people’s homes to show people that they have no rights, and to create fear that they can take whatever they want.> A day after retaking Afghanistan, the Taliban announced a <general amnesty> for government workers, but reports have emerged of Taliban fighters killing members of ethnic Hazara men and torturing journalists. However, top Taliban leadership has reiterated that they will not target their opponents. Noorzai and Ahmadi are among more than a dozen female MPs and their families who have arrived in Athens, the Greek capital, after being evacuated from Afghanistan in the past several weeks with the help of two non-governmental organisations, Melissa Network and Human Rights 360. The two groups worked with international organisations and individuals to extricate the families, and many more are en route. <We created a list of 150 women of influence who were mostly on death lists, who were facing tremendous risks and were willing to take any risk in the process of accessing the airport or exiting the country,> says Melissa co-founder Nadina Christopoulou. <What they kept telling us before the withdrawal of US troops was [that] going back home means facing certain death.>
Greek diplomatic sources put the figure of evacuees at 177 so far, which includes female lawyers and judges arriving by chartered flight this month.

An emotional reunion

Melissa works on integration, empowerment and advocacy, offering informal education programmes and counselling to migrant and refugee women
based in Greece. Al Jazeera met the Afghans, who had arrived at different times, at an emotional reunion in Athens, where a traditional Afghan lunch was offered.While grateful for Melissa’s hospitality, the women, many of them teachers and academics, lamented that this year was the first Afghan national education day (October 5) in 20 years when no girls were allowed in high schools.
Last month schools reopened but the resumption of classes for teenage girls was delayed – though boys in similar age-group have been allowed to attend schools, raising questions over the Afghan group’s commitment to women’s education.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
Belen Fernandez
Contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.
12 Oct 2021

<<Afghans are the next victims of Italy’s war on refugees.
Italy has been hit by a new wave of xenophobic upheaval.

Time for a quick quiz: Who, in the end, is the biggest victim of the whole Afghan crisis? If you answered <Italy>, you’d be correct – at least in the
view of the Italian right wing. Consider, for starters, a recent article in the Italian newspaper Il Tempo, which warns that the Taliban’s reconquest of Afghanistan will unleash an <unprecedented wave of migrants> – a veritable <migratory tsunami> – that will soon inundate Italy with millions of Afghans. According to the article’s author, Afghan men often struggle to integrate into European society, and have already <committed hundreds of sexual aggressions against European women> – something European men obviously never do.
The bottom line, we are told, is that the right to asylum must not continue to be a <Trojan horse for mass immigration[,] Islamism – and in some
cases terrorism>.
Other Italian media, too, have been hit by the wave of renewed xenophobic upheaval – an unsurprising state of affairs in a country where four-time prime minister and billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi once complained that Milan looked too much like Africa.
Lest the moral of the story go unappreciated, he spelled it out: <Some people want a multicoloured and multiethnic society. We do not share this
opinion.> Then there was that time in 2015 that the Il Giornale newspaper – presided over by Berlusconi’s brother Paolo – published a blog post by Nino Spirlì, titled <Italy IS NOT an Islamic country>. Spirlì, who has since become acting president of the southern Italian region of Calabria,
contended that invading migrant hordes were endeavouring to take over Italy and expel Italians from the land, thereby replicating events of a
millennium ago <when the Moors landed … on my shores to rape and kill>.
Sending migrants back to their own countries was thus <not a sin> but rather a <sacrosanct> duty.

Indeed, any good Orientalist rant requires situating Arab/Muslim antagonists in an ancient, barbaric past. Never mind more recent invasions – like,
say, Italy’s imperialist and colonialist manoeuvres in Africa that helped set the stage for current migration patterns in the first place.
In The Addis Ababa Massacre: Italy’s National Shame, for example, scholar Ian Campbell notes that a “policy of terror” underpinned the Italian
military occupation of Ethiopia, which lasted from 1936-41. During a mere three days in February 1937, Campbell estimates, approximately 19-20
percent of the Ethiopian population of Addis Ababa was slaughtered by Italian militants and civilians.
Fast forward to the mass carnage inflicted under the pretext of the United States’s so-called <war on terror> – which has relied on Italian military
support in Afghanistan and elsewhere – and the portrayal of Italy as the ultimate victim of the refugee <tsunami> becomes even less endearing.
Spirlì, it bears mentioning, belongs to the League, a far-right political party headed by former Italian interior minister and deputy prime minister
Matteo Salvini, who in 2018 declared that Italy was <under attack> by Muslims, adding: <Our culture, society, traditions and way of life are at risk.>

Salvini, who is also known for closing Italian ports to migrant rescue vessels and pledging to deport half a million migrants as part of his envisioned <mass cleaning> of the patria – to be carried out <street by street> – credited the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci with having foreseen the Muslim attack.>>
Read more here:

Note by Gino d'Artali: Oriana Fallaci (Italy Born 29 juni 1929 and died 15 september and was surprisingly right-wing and extremely against Muslims.
However she was and still is best known for her book <The golden notebook> which I read when I was in my mid-twenties and inspired by other
feminist writers like the French feminist Simone de Bauvoir and many international feminist writers how I became a feminist myself.
Also the in the article written of anti-Islam content surprised me a bit. On the other hand as journalists one has to stay objective even if one
sympathises with modest muslims because if not it's easy to write fake news. And keep in mind that the article is not only about men Afghan
refugees but also female Afghan refugees.

11 Oct 2021
Note from Gino d'Artali:
I'm afraid that Rakhshanamedia, an online Afghanistani magazine, has either been hacked or taken off cyberspace by the taliban.

Comment from Gino d'Artali: Food for thought

Daily Outlook Afghanistan.
11 Oct 2021
<<Why Regional Countries Should Join the Afghan National Consensus Against Taliban
August 14,2021

Hstorically, Afghanistan has experienced different political systems such as empire, kingdom, constitutional kingdom, communism, absolutism, but
none of them unified Afghan people as the current Islamic Republic System. In spite of criticisms against the mistakes of political leaders, everyone including men, women, and religious scholars unanimously support the current system. Now, the voice of consensus is not only heard from the formal addresses, but also from the streets, roofs of houses, and loudspeakers of mosques. The shouting Allah Akbar from the streets of Herat and Kabul is a unique example of the oneness of Afghan people under the flag of the Islamic republic system.
The recent voice of Allah Akbar was also the voice of people, the voice of peace and brotherhood, not hostility. If the Taliban and their regional
supporters really pay value to the voice of people, the voice of peace and brotherhood, they should join it instead of targeting it. The people of
Afghanistan consider their neighbors as their brothers. They made it clear that not to allow anyone to misuse from the soil of this country against
their neighbors. In fact, the people and government of Afghanistan have proved their goodwill towards the Taliban and their supporters, but the
recent position of regional countries in convergence with the Taliban raised serious questions in Afghan public opinion. Now, most people of
Afghanistan ask if reaching peace is an illegitimate demand that some of the regional countries interrupt. Are a moderate political system and a
peaceful Afghanistan against the interests of neighboring countries? Does a peaceful Afghanistan pave the way for the presence of foreigners or un-peaceful Afghanistan? It seems there are no logical answers other than supporting the people of Afghanistan to reach peace or at least not interrupt the peace process. Otherwise, they will commit an irreparable mistake in regard to this particular issue of Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, some of the neighboring countries may have some concerns, but they must pursue it through legal mechanisms and legitimate ways, not through sending guns and weapons to kill innocent civilians. For example, the public opinion asks what does the killing of people, including women and children, have to do with the concerns or demands of neighboring countries? Were they a threat to you (neighboring countries)? How do the senders of guns and weapons respond to Allah and even to their own people? Who will be responsible for such a massacre which repeatedly carried by their proxy fighters?
Currently, everyone knows that the government and people of Afghanistan are under widespread and brutal attacks by the Taliban terrorists, why do the regional countries ignore these crimes?>>
Read more here:

New Yorker
A Reporter at Large
The Other Afghan Women
In the countryside, the endless killing of civilians turned women against the occupiers who claimed to be helping them.
By Anand Gopal
September 13, 2021 Issue

Late one afternoon this past August, Shakira heard banging on her front gate. In the Sangin Valley, which is in Helmand Province, in southern
Afghanistan, women must not be seen by men who aren’t related to them, and so her nineteen-year-old son, Ahmed, went to the gate. Outside were two men in bandoliers and black turbans, carrying rifles. They were members of the Taliban, who were waging an offensive to wrest the countryside back from the Afghan National Army. One of the men warned, <If you don’t leave immediately, everyone is going to die.>
Shakira, who is in her early forties, corralled her family: her husband, an opium merchant, who was fast asleep, having succumbed to the temptations of his product, and her eight children, including her oldest, twenty-year-old Nilofar—as old as the war itself—whom Shakira called her <deputy,> because she helped care for the younger ones. The family crossed an old footbridge spanning a canal, then snaked their way through reeds and irregular plots of beans and onions, past dark and vacant houses. Their neighbors had been warned, too, and, except for wandering chickens and orphaned cattle, the village was empty.
Shakira’s family walked for hours under a blazing sun. She started to feel the rattle of distant thuds, and saw people streaming from riverside
villages: men bending low beneath bundles stuffed with all that they could not bear to leave behind, women walking as quickly as their burqas

The pounding of artillery filled the air, announcing the start of a Taliban assault on an Afghan Army outpost. Shakira balanced her youngest child, a two-year-old daughter, on her hip as the sky flashed and thundered. By nightfall, they had come upon the valley’s central market. The corrugated-iron storefronts had largely been destroyed during the war. Shakira found a one-room shop with an intact roof, and her family settled in for the night. For the children, she produced a set of cloth dolls—one of a number of distractions that she’d cultivated during the years of fleeing battle. As she held the figures in the light of a match, the earth shook.
Around dawn, Shakira stepped outside, and saw that a few dozen families had taken shelter in the abandoned market. It had once been the most
thriving bazaar in northern Helmand, with shopkeepers weighing saffron and cumin on scales, carts loaded with women’s gowns, and storefronts
dedicated to selling opium. Now stray pillars jutted upward, and the air smelled of decaying animal remains and burning plastic.
In the distance, the earth suddenly exploded in fountains of dirt. Helicopters from the Afghan Army buzzed overhead, and the families hid behind the shops, considering their next move. There was fighting along the stone ramparts to the north and the riverbank to the west. To the east was red-sand desert as far as Shakira could see. The only option was to head south, toward the leafy city of Lashkar Gah, which remained under the control of the Afghan government.

The journey would entail cutting through a barren plain exposed to abandoned U.S. and British bases, where snipers nested, and crossing culverts
potentially stuffed with explosives. A few families started off. Even if they reached Lashkar Gah, they could not be sure what they’d find there. Since the start of the Taliban’s blitz, Afghan Army soldiers had surrendered in droves, begging for safe passage home. It was clear that the Taliban would soon reach Kabul, and that the twenty years, and the trillions of dollars, devoted to defeating them had come to nothing. Shakira’s family stood in the desert, discussing the situation. The gunfire sounded closer. Shakira spotted Taliban vehicles racing toward the bazaar—and she decided to stay put.
She was weary to the bone, her nerves frayed. She would face whatever came next, accept it like a judgment. “We’ve been running all our lives,” she told me. <I’m not going anywhere.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
9 Oct 2021
Se-Woong Koo
Se-Woong Koo is co-founder and publisher of Korea Expose, an online magazine

<<How international organisations are failing Afghan women.
I have heard countless stories of Afghan women desperately reaching out for help and hitting a wall of silence.

On August 30, just one day before the American deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, I messaged Parwana (not her real name) on WhatsApp to see how she was doing. <No help for now … but we are good so far. I can at least move around with a proper hijab and a mahram [a male family member as a chaperone],> she replied with a hint of resignation.
Parwana had been due to leave on a plane out of Kabul airport in the last days of Western evacuation efforts, but a last-minute glitch prevented her departure. Young, educated and employed by a high-profile international organisation, she was not alone in her situation. I was receiving hundreds of messages from Afghan women like her, all fearing for their future and desperately seeking to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, I have been leading a volunteer initiative consisting of more than 200 members to help young Afghan women and their families. The idea emerged after a few other former faculty members of the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Bangladesh, where many Afghan women have graduated, and I decided to attempt to assist some 180 Afghan students and alumnae who wanted to flee. Since we launched the effort, I have been in contact with other Afghans desperate to leave as well.
Before the August 31 deadline, Western governments flew out a significant number of Afghans and foreign nationals – more than 114,000 in fact.

But even now, numerous people from various backgrounds are continuing private efforts to evacuate more, out of frustration that the official <West> has failed in its duty to rescue those who deserve to leave Afghanistan. Many of the unlucky are Afghan women who write countless emails and WhatsApp messages to Western governments and organisations that tout how keen they are to help Afghan women. The answer, though, is often silence. Despair reigns among the forgotten.
Typical is the situation of Farzana (she asked me not to use her last name), who, like many Afghans, is in limbo. An employee of the large German NGO Welthungerhilfe (WHH), she reached out to me through her sister who knows me. Afraid for her life, Farzana said she had asked Welthungerhilfe for evacuation in mid-August and received no update for two weeks.
On September 1, I felt compelled to write an urgent message to the WHH human resources office on her behalf and received a reply one week later, on September 7, asking for a document that <proves [Farzana’s] employment> at WHH, as if they had no record of who was working for them in Afghanistan. Germany had announced on August 16 that it was evacuating 500 Afghan employees of <NGOs like Welthungerhilfe> but obviously WHH never got the message across to people like Farzana.

After my email request, WHH referred her to the German government for special visa approval, but without any instruction as to how she might reach the nearest German diplomatic mission that would stamp her passport. Despite the grand claim by German foreign minister Heiko Maas on August 30 that Uzbekistan will allow entry to Afghans bound for Germany, Farzana told me the German embassy in Qatar replied to her email on September 13 that Berlin is, in fact, still only <endeavouring to make arrangements with Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries>. She remains in Kabul, unable to decide what to do next.
This kind of slow bureaucratic hell without end is killing many Afghans who have had close connections to the West, not physically as the Taliban might, but slowly with anxiety from within. They live each day in agony as they struggle to accept the hard reality: that it might be better to make other plans than to keep on waiting for the promised help that never comes.
The official escape options for the remaining Afghans have been tragically flawed, bordering on the absurd. In mid-August, both the United Kingdom and Canada heralded resettlement schemes for Afghans to much fanfare. John, a British volunteer with our group, however, spent a day and a half trying to get through the UK government’s special hotline for Afghan refugees, only to reach a pre-recorded message that the phone number was not actually intended for Afghan refugees. One media report about the same hotline claimed that some callers were even redirected to a washing machine company.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
Nida Kirmani
8 Oct 2021

<<The past few months have been harrowing for Pakistani women
There appears to have been a surge in violence against women, but in truth it is nothing new. It is just that we are more aware of it now and more women are fighting back.
The last few months have been particularly harrowing for Pakistani women.
From the horrific case of 27-year-old Noor Muqaddam, who was brutally tortured and beheaded in the nation’s capital on July 21, to that of Ayesha
Ikram, a TikTok creator, who was harassed and groped on the country’s Independence Day by more than 400 men on the grounds of one of the
country’s major national monuments, the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore – it feels as if violence against women has reached epidemic proportions.
Many are even calling it a <femicide> to draw attention to the scale of the problem and its systemic nature. But gender-based violence in the country is not new. According to the 2017-2018 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, 28 percent of women aged 15 to 49 had experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. This is a slight decrease from 32 percent of the women reported to have experienced physical violence at the hands of their partners in the 2012-2013 survey. But given that domestic violence is an issue shrouded in secrecy and shame, both sets of figures are likely a gross under-estimation. One suspects that it feels like there is a surge in violence because cases are getting more attention. Mainstream media is more attuned to the issue, and it is also being highlighted and discussed on social media platforms.
These conversations have created heightened awareness among young women in particular, who are becoming increasingly vocal about their rights.
The vast majority of these women belong to the educated, urban middle and upper classes.
This is just the latest in the long history of the struggle against gender-based violence in Pakistan.
In the past, particular cases have drawn national as well international attention, leading to collective action by rights activists.
One such case was that of 28-year-old Samia Sarwar, whose murder was arranged by her family in 1999. She had been seeking a divorce from her
violent husband, a decision her family did not support because it would have <dishonoured> the family name. She was shot dead in the offices of
Hina Jilani, a well-respected Supreme Court lawyer and human rights activist. Sarwar had been there for a pre-arranged meeting with her mothreceive the divorce papers.
Her murder started a national conversation about honour killings. Women’s rights activists, including Jilani and her sister Asma Jahangir, also a
renowned human rights lawyer and activist, highlighted it to advocate for an end to gender-based violence.
But there were counter-protests from religious conservatives arguing that Sarwar’s feminist lawyers had no business interfering in a question of
<family honour>. To this day, the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.
Another well-documented case is that of Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang-raped in June 2002 by four men in Meerwala village in southern Punjab’s
Muzaffargarh district. Mai was raped on the orders of a village council as <punishment> for her younger brother’s alleged illegitimate relationship with a woman from a rival tribe.

Social media

Female education rates are gradually on the rise in Pakistan, with the rate of female secondary education rising from 28.6 percent in 2011 to 34.2
percent in 2021. There is now a new generation of young educated women who have the awareness and confidence to demand their rights.
Additionally, as technology and social media have become more accessible, news of cases has started to spread more widely and at a much greater speed. As of this year, almost 27.5 percent of the country’s population has access to the internet, mostly through their mobile phones. While this is much less than the global average of 60.9 percent, it is still significant for a country of 223 million.
Despite the fact that the country only has 2.1 million Twitter users, a relatively low percent, tweets are often featured by media outlets and are used to further discussions.
The state has also identified social media as a possible threat to Pakistan’s national image. Fawad Chaudhry, the country’s information minister,
recently alleged that Indian and Afghan accounts were <falsely> creating the impression that Pakistan is <unsafe for women>, which he argued is
part of an international conspiracy to malign the country.
With social media playing a key role in taking the conversation forward, women also face constant threats and harassment on these channels.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
8 Oct 2021

<<Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov win 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Journalists from the Philippines and Russia hailed ‘for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression’.

Journalists Maria Ressa, of the Philippines, and Dmitry Muratov, of Russia, have won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, recognised <for their efforts to
safeguard freedom of expression>, which the prize-giving committee described as being under threat worldwide
The two were given the prestigious award <for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia,> Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said on Friday.
<At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions,> she told a news conference in Norway’s capital, Oslo.
The prize is the first for journalists since German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935 for revealing his country’s secret post-war rearmament programme.
<Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,> Reiss-Andersen said.
Ressa, who founded investigative journalism website Rappler, has focused much of her work on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial
and violent war on drugs. She and Rappler <have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and
manipulate public discourse,> the Nobel committee noted.
<I’m a little shocked. It’s really emotional,> Ressa said after learning of the award.
<Journalism has never been as important as it is today,> she said, adding that journalists had <lost our gatekeeping powers to technology
platforms> and called for nations to come together to stop the rise of misinformation.
She also said that despite her news website being under <the possibility of shutdown on a daily basis> she continues striving for fact-finding
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
8 Oct 2021

<<Dozens killed in suicide blast at Afghanistan mosque.
ISIL affiliate claims responsibility for the blast at Shia mosque in Kunduz that has killed dozens.>>

Gino d'Artali

I wil no further quote from that article because...


The time they take to fight each other (taliban, isis, isis-kp and isil) the less time they have to oppress Afghan Women!

Al Jazeera
7 Oct 2021
Ali M Latifi

<<Taliban still struggling for international recognition
Group spent the last two years courting world leaders but has found it difficult to gain acceptance since taking power in August.

Kabul, Afghanistan – Since it took power in August, the Taliban has been on a desperate quest to have its Islamic Emirate recognised internationally as the official government of Afghanistan. But so far, those attempts have yet to bear fruit.
It is not from lack of effort, though, the group’s leadership has been busy. It has been meeting with officials from the United Nations, who assured the Taliban last month that the body will continue its assistance programmes in the country.
However, the UN turned down the Taliban’s request to have its chosen envoy address the General Assembly.
The group has also met with representatives from the United Kingdom, who pushed them on ensuring that British nationals are allowed to leave the country. The UK also raised the issue of women’s rights in meetings with Taliban representatives.
The Taliban leadership, including figures appearing on international terror lists, also made sure to be present when aid shipments from Qatar, China, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Uzbekistan arrived at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Frozen assets

But none of these nations have yet announced their formal acknowledgement of the Taliban as the rightful rulers of the country. That recognition is crucial, not only for the Taliban’s own legitimacy, but also because the nation continues to struggle after the United States, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund cut off Kabul’s access to more than $9.5bn in loans, funding and assets.
The Taliban’s diplomatic isolation is in contrast to the last 10 years, which saw the group making several trips across the region as part of their peace efforts with the US administration. Since their 2011 arrival in Doha, the Taliban had held numerous direct and indirect talks with the representatives from different nations. Those efforts were ramped up over the last two years, when they embarked on official trips to Uzbekistan, Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan. At the time, these visits were dubbed as the “Taliban’s world tour,” among certain circles in Kabul.
Today, however, even foreign capitals that once eagerly announced the Taliban’s visits to their nations have taken a harsh, even outright critical stance on the group.

Iran, which had long been accused of aiding and abetting the group, took a cryptic tone when speaking of the Taliban takeover of its eastern neighbour. At an August 28 speech, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said, <The nature of our relations with governments depends on the nature of their relations with us.>
When the neighbours did finally meet earlier this week, it was to discuss the status of the Islam Qala border crossing and trade tariffs.
A former Afghan official, speaking to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity, said foreign governments accepting the Taliban as a rightful government would be antithetical to diplomatic norms.

<A terrorist group has no business reassuring anybody,> the official said.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
6 Oct 2021

<<‘We won’t eat tonight’: Hunger plagues Afghans in historic valley
The community is among the poorest in the country and the Taliban takeover in August has only exacerbated their hardships.

They have long survived hand to mouth, but since the Taliban conquered the Bamiyan valley, rural Afghans living in its mountainside caves have been left weak from hunger and fear. Known as one of the most beautiful regions in Afghanistan, the rugged, central valley is home to several hundred families living in caves that were carved into sandstone cliffs by Buddhist monks in the fifth century. The community is among the poorest in the country and the Taliban takeover in August has only exacerbated their hardships, with international aid cut off, food prices rising and unemployment spiking. They live a few kilometres from where the valley’s famous giant, ancient Buddha statues once stood, before they were dynamited by the group when it was last in power 20 years ago. Fatima says her cave partially collapsed during heavy rains a year and a half ago, leaving the 55-year-old and three family members crammed into a tiny cavern measuring just six square metres (65 square feet).
<We won’t eat tonight. And winter is almost here. We have nothing to keep warm,> she says, her face partially covered by a black veil.

<We live in misery and misfortune.>

Daily wage labourers and porters no longer bring home the little money they once did to settle rumbling stomachs. Only the harvesting of potatoes has continued – the single crop that can be grown in the area at an altitude of 2,500 metres (8,200 feet). <I go to the Bamiyan bazaar every morning, but I come back with nothing,> says Mahram, a 42-year-old bricklayer. <When there was work, I made 300 afghanis ($3.75) per day.>
<The farmers give them some instead of salaries,> Mahram says. <That is all we have, with a bit of bread.>
<But in 10 days, the harvest will be over, and we will really be hungry. People will die.> Like most people living in the region, the families are Hazara, a mainly Shia ethnic minority that has been marginalised and persecuted in Afghanistan for centuries.
The victory of the Taliban, made up of Sunni hardliners who see the community as heretics, has caused panic. <It is very frightening,> says Amena, a 40-year-old mother of five children.
<But they have not come, and will probably not come all the way up to where we are.> Amena parts the curtain at the entrance to her cave to reveal a platform carved into the rock topped with two cushions, a threadbare carpet, and a rickety wood-burning stove that has covered the ceiling with a thick layer of soot. Near the doorway lies a bundle of potato branches, the family’s only fuel.
<Wood is too expensive,> she says.
There has never been electricity in the area, and collecting water requires three long trips down to the river in the valley each day. The deputy chief of the local council, 25-year-old Saifullah Aria, says the situation is dire.
<Here, people are poor. Very poor,> he says.
<They usually make 100-200 afghanis ($1.10-2:10) a day, but for the past six weeks, with the Taliban, they’ve made nothing.>
He says most eat just one meal a day of potato and bread.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
6 Oct 2021
By Eltaf NajafizadaBloomberg

<<Afghanistan could go dark as power bills remain unpaid
Neighbouring nations supply about 78 percent of Afghanistan’s power, they have not been paid since the Taliban took over.

Afghanistan’s state power company has appealed to a United Nations-led mission to give $90 million to settle unpaid bills to Central Asian suppliers before electricity gets cut off for the country given that the three-month deadline for payments has passed. Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan from mid-August, electricity bills haven’t been paid to neighboring countries that supply about 78% of its power needs. This poses another problem for a new government that is grappling with a cash crunch in the economy in part due to U.S. and other allies freezing the country’s overseas reserves. Afghanistan usually pays $20 million to $25 million a month in total to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Iran and now upaid bills stand at $62 million, Safiullah Ahmadzai, the acting CEO of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, said on Wednesday. These countries may cut the power supply <any day they want,> he added.

<We’ve asked the UNAMA in Kabul to assist the people of Afghanistan to pay the country’s power suppliers as part of their humanitarian aid,> Ahmadzai said by phone, referring to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. He said some $90 million was requested from the mission as the unpaid bills will jump to about $85 million in a week. The UN mission hasn’t responded to that request yet, Ahmadzai said.
Currently, there’s no significant power cuts now in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan. Ahmadzai said just 38% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people currently have access to electricity. The Taliban government is looking to pay the electricity bills and has called on neighboring countries to avoid cutting off the power supply, Bilal Karimi, a spokesman for the group said by phone. <We have a good relationship with them and we don’t expect them to stop providing us power,> he added.
As the Taliban swept into power in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the state power firm had struggled to collect payment from consumers due to the security situation and the bleak economic conditions.
Power outages are common in Afghanistan, even when the U.S.-backed government was in power. The Taliban has been partly responsible for the situation as they attacked transmission towers last year, causing blackouts in Kabul.
Afghanistan needs about 1,600 megawatts of power yearly. Ahmadzai said Afghanistan’s domestic power sources, which include hydropower plants, solar panels and fossil fuels, meet about 22% of the country’s needs.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
6 Oct 2021
By Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

<<Afghan women’s losing battle to remain visible under Taliban
Afghan women tell Al Jazeera that they fear a return of repressive life under Taliban rule.

Kabul, Afghanistan – Marzia Hamidi, a 19-year-old Afghan taekwondoin, had big plans. She used to dream of national and international championships but fears that those dreams are now dashed forever after the Taliban took control of the country in August.
By the end of September, she had to go into hiding after she heard that some members of the group had come looking for her.
<When the Taliban came [to power], I was thinking about destroying my medals,> she told Al Jazeera. <Burn them or keep them? I asked myself.>
Even Marzia’s Instagram account – with more than 20,000 followers – is a little bit darker now. She wears a black abaya and matching hijab, fearing Afghanistan’s new rulers. She is not alone in her fears. Many women fear a return to enforced invisibility they lived under for five years (1996-2001) when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan last.
When the Taliban came to power, it promised to respect women and allow them to participate in public life <in accordance with Islamic law>, but secondary schools remain closed for girls, and many women are finding returning to work difficult, with the exception of some professions such as in the health sector.

Protests erupted across several cities last month, with women demanding their rights, but they were harshly suppressed. During the first Taliban regime, women virtually disappeared from the public eye as they were banned from working and were not allowed to travel without a male guardian. The violation of strict rules on women’s clothing and their behaviour in public attracted severe punishment.
Marzia worries that women like her will soon meet a similar fate.

‘Burn them or keep them?’

Marzia was born in Iran to a family of Afghan refugees who were often discriminated against and subjected to racist attacks.
At 15, she went to a taekwondo class and immediately fell in love with the sport, going on to compete and earning several gold medals in the Under 57kg category national competitions. But three years ago, Marzia’s family decided to move to Afghanistan, her father no longer wanted to be a refugee in a foreign land. They would join her brother, who had a profitable business in Kabul.
For the self-confident athlete, this spelled a huge disruption of her career. Kabul would prove to be a difficult place to practice her sport in.
<It’s always been hard for female fighters in Afghanistan. My male coach always stared at me, focused on my looks, which made me uncomfortable. Other girls in the taekwondo team always wore headscarves and complained that I did not,> Marzia says.
When the Taliban came to power, many Afghans tried to destroy or hide items they feared would incriminate them with the new rulers. Marzia’s medals were her <incriminating items> and she pondered long and whether to destroy them. <But my brother talked me out of the idea and told me to hide them in a safe place.>
But she soon realised that the medals were not the only thing she had to hide.
Last month, a group of unknown men came to her family home asking for her whereabouts, likely because of her social media activity, she says. They also visited her brother’s office. Marzia decided to go into hiding. She now frequently changes locations and lives in constant fear.>>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
5 Oct 2021
From: The Forbidden Reel

<<The Era of Darkness.

In the 1990s, Afghan cinema enters an era of darkness as the Taliban take control of the country.
By the mid-1990s, the Taliban had risen to power in Afghanistan.
Certain members of the group wanted to destroy the national archive.
When some Taliban decided to burn it down, the Taliban head of radio and television took action.
He secretly warned employees at Afghan Film to hide their treasured films.
Amongst the Taliban of that era, there were also those who cherished the history of their homeland.
Watch the video here:

Al Jazeera
From The Stream
<<Afghan journanists attacked.

Is press freedom dead in Afghanistan?
On Wednesday, September 29 at 19:30GMT:
A once flourishing media landscape in Afghanistan appears to be withering as press freedoms come under fire with reports of brutal attacks on Afghan journalists.

One of the most brazen attacks happened earlier this month as Mohammad Ali Almadi, a reporter and editor with radio broadcaster Salam Watandar, rode through Kabul in a taxi van. A fellow passenger asked Almadi what he did for work and, when Almadi told the man he was a journalist, the man pulled out a gun and opened fire, hitting Almadi twice in the leg.
In another incident, two Afghan journalists were severely beaten while covering a women’s protest outside a police station in Kabul. The men were reportedly dragged into separate jail cells by Taliban fighters and flogged. Photos of the men showed large bruises and cuts across their backs.
The Taliban has also announced a series of <journalism rules> that all media organisations must follow and the strict guidelines have left journalists fearful of censorship, persecution and worse.>>
Read and watch the video here:

Al Jazeera
Ali M Latifi
5 Oct 2021

<<Anxious wait for Afghan girls as opening of high schools stalled.
Millions of girls confined to their homes as Taliban continues to prevent high school girls from returning to classroom.

Millions of teenage girls across Afghanistan are anxiously waiting to return to the classroom, as high schools continue to remain closed, raising fears about the future of female education under Taliban rule. The country’s new rulers allowed boys in the same age group – seven to 12 – to attend classes last month, but said that <a safe learning environment> was needed before older girls could return to school.
At that time, the Taliban’s Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Zabihullah Mujahid said the group was working on a “procedure” to allow teenage girls back into the classroom. In the Taliban’s first news conference after taking over Afghanistan on August 15, Mujahid had pledged to “allow women to work and study,” as it tried to allay fears of its rule between 1996-2001 that was marked by a curb on women’s rights.
The continued exclusion of girls from schools has only exacerbated fears among the Afghan people that the Taliban could be returning to their hardline rule of the 1990s. Those five years had the distinction of being the only time in modern Afghan history where women and girls were legally barred from education and employment. In the month and a half since they came to power, the Taliban has told female government workers to stay at home, announced an all-male cabinet, closed down the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and faced accusations of harassment and abuse of female protesters across the nation’s cities.

Dangerous questions

Toorpekai Momand, an education advocate, said the delay, coupled with the Taliban’s actions, have led adolescent girls to contend with dangerous questions, <Why do the Taliban have a problem with us? Why is it our rights that are being taken?>
Momand, who has spent 10 years working as a school administrator, is among hundreds of women in Afghanistan and abroad who are trying to ensure that the Taliban live up to their promises to allow girls and women back into schools and offices.
For many of these women, this struggle means dealing with what they see as unpopular, but necessary realities of life in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Jamila Afghani, another education advocate, said that the Afghan people are left with little but to try and engage with the Taliban, especially as the international community has refused to recognise the group.
I didn’t bring them. You didn’t bring them, but they’re here now, so we have to keep pushing.>But both Afghani and Momand and dozens of others have experienced first-hand the difficulty of trying to get answers out of the Taliban. When their colleagues met officials from the Taliban-run Ministry of Education, they were told that the group is working <very hard> to adhere to conservative norms in the education of teenage girls.
Momand said the Taliban is particularly careful with its<wording, <They never just come out and say ‘no,’ they keep saying ‘we’re working on it,’ but we have no idea exactly what it is they’re working on.>
All of the women Al Jazeera spoke to said that in the 100 years since the Afghan government established official schools for girls, those institutions have always adhered to religious principles. Primary and secondary schools were always gender-segregated and dress codes were always in place.
Momand, in particular, said she has a hard time accepting the Taliban’s claims of religious reasoning for the continued wait, saying, <In a girls’ school, everyone, down to the cleaning staff, are women.>

Curriculum change

The Taliban has also made references to a review of the curriculum, something Afghani said could further delay the education of school children.
<Redoing a curriculum takes a lot of time and a very detailed understanding of educational models,> Afghani said.
All of the sources Al Jazeera spoke to shared Afghani’s scepticism of the Taliban’s actual understanding of the complexities of establishing an education system for 9.5 million schoolchildren.
Last month, the group’s acting minister of education, Mawlawi Noorullah Monir, caused a social media uproar when he said, <No PhD degree, Master’s degree is valuable today. You see that the mullahs and Taliban that are in the power, have no PhD, MA or even a high school degree, but are the greatest of all.>
For some, the prospect of the Taliban trying to reform the curriculum is particularly frightening.

Fatimah Hossaini, a well-known photographer who taught classes in the fine arts faculty at Kabul University, said she feared for the future of arts programmes under the Taliban. She pointed out that art was the least funded discipline at Kabul University even under the former government of President Ashraf Ghani.
At one time, Hossaini was the only female professor in a small faculty that had to make do with the most basic and often out-of-date equipment. Now, she fears what the department will look like under the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban refers to its government.

<They have already said there will be no music in public. They’ve been going around Kabul covering murals. In 2001, they blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan, so do you think they will allow students to continue studying sculpture?> Even if the programmes are allowed to continue, Hossaini feared the Taliban would impose restrictions like those in neighbouring Iran, where she studied. Art, said Hossaini, requires <freedom> to flourish, but she feared that the Taliban would impose tight restrictions on self-expression.

<Most of my students, especially the girls, are busy looking for ways out,> said Hossaini, who fled to France along with tens of thousands of Afghans fearing return of Taliban rule. Even those who have stayed are haunted by a sense of foreboding, said Hossaini. She used one of her graduating female students as an example. <She cannot bring herself to go collect her diploma and transcripts. She keeps saying, ‘I don’t want to have the stamp of the Islamic Emirate on my diploma.’> >>
Read more here:

The Guardian
3 Sept 2021
Associated Press in Kabul

<<Civilians killed in deadliest Kabul attack since US withdrawal.
Islamic State suspected of carrying out bombing outside mosque in Afghan capital.

At least five civilians have been killed in a bomb blast at the entrance to a Kabul mosque on Sunday, a Taliban official said, the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since US forces left at the end of August. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Islamic State extremists, who have stepped up attacks on the Taliban in recent weeks, particularly in the IS stronghold in eastern Afghanistan. It is believed that a roadside bomb went off at the gate of the sprawling Eidgah mosque in Kabul when a memorial service was being held for the mother of the Taliban’s chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid. Five people were killed, said Qari Saeed Khosti, a spokesman for the interior ministry
Three suspects were arrested, said Bilal Karimi, another Taliban spokesman. Taliban fighters were not harmed in the attack, he said.
An Italian-funded emergency hospital in Kabul tweeted that it had received four people wounded in the blast. The area around the mosque was cordoned off by the Taliban, who maintained a heavy security presence. Later in the afternoon the site was cleaned. Afterwards the only signs of the blast was slight damage to the ornamental arch by the entrance gate.
The explosion underlined the growing challenges facing the Taliban just weeks after they took control of Afghanistan in a blitz campaign, culminating in their takeover of Kabul on 15 August.

During their 20-year insurgency, the Taliban frequently carried out bombing and shooting attacks, but they are now faced with trying to contain rival militants who are using the same methods. The growing security challenges come at a time of economic meltdown, as the Taliban struggle to run the country without the massive foreign aid given to the US-backed government that they toppled. IS militants have stepped up attacks against the Taliban since their mid-August takeover, signalling a widening conflict between them. IS maintains a strong presence in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where it has claimed responsibility for several killings in the provincial capital of Jalalabad.
In late August an IS suicide bomber targeted American evacuation efforts at Kabul’s international airport. The blast killed 169 Afghans and 13 US service members, and was one of the deadliest attacks in the country in years. Attacks in Kabul have so far been rare, but in recent weeks IS has shown signs it is expanding its footprint beyond the east and closer toward the capital. On Friday Taliban fighters raided an IS hideout just north of Kabul in Parwan province. The raid came after an IS roadside bomb wounded four Taliban fighters in the area.>>
Read more here:

Opinion by Gino d'Artali:

As I predicted it before after the taliban took over power on 15 August 2021 Afghanistan is not only heading for a 'men's only country again' but also to a direct clash between them and Al Quaida; ISIS and ISIS-K.

Al Jazeera
2 Oct 2021

<<Qataris cast ballots in first legislative elections.
The candidates are mostly men, with nearly 30 women among the 284 hopefuls running for the 30 available council seats.

Qataris have begun voting in the country’s first legislative elections for two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council, in a vote that has stirred domestic debate about electoral inclusion and citizenship. Voters began trickling into polling stations on Saturday, where men and women entered separate sections to elect 30 members of the 45-seat body. The ruling emir will continue to appoint the remaining 15 members of the council.
Polls opened at 05:00 GMT and will close at 15:00 GMT, with the results expected the same day. The council will enjoy legislative authority and approve general state policies and the budget, but has no control over executive bodies setting defence, security, economic and investment policy for the small but wealthy gas producer, which bans political parties. Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from a voting station in the capital, Doha, soon after polls opened, said the elections were seen as a major step in the modernisation of the governing system.

<What we’ve seen so far … is quite an active presence of voters,> he said. There is excitement among nationals who are able to vote in these elections. The [Shura Council] body has been mainly a consultative one over the past few decades but there has been a push within Qatar to share responsibility, to widen participation, to develop the relationship between the citizen and the state,> he added.
<Through that came the idea or the push to make this body one that people are able to stand in, vote in and to give more powers. This is akin to other countries’ parliament in that it can draft laws, can question and even sack ministers.>

A voting ‘experiment’

Qatar’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, last month described the vote as a new <experiment> and said the council cannot be expected from the first year to have the <full role of any parliament>.
All candidates had to be approved by the powerful interior ministry against a host of criteria, including age, character and criminal history. They have uniformly avoided debate about Qatar’s foreign policy or status as a monarchy, instead focusing on social issues including healthcare, education and citizenship rights. The candidates are mostly men, with nearly 30 women among the 284 hopefuls running for the 30 available council seats.
Campaigning has taken place on social media, community meetings and roadside billboards.
<This is a first-time experience for me … to be here and meet people talking about these things that we need,> said Khalid Almutawah, a candidate in the Markhiya district. <In the end, we want to promote our society and we try our best to help our people and our government.>
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, also reporting from a polling station in Doha, said female voters expressed their happiness at being able to take part in such a historic process.
<It’s very important for them to have their voices heard, Jabbari said. They believe that any kind of future in this country has to include women as part of that vision to be able to make decisions, and to take part in a government that will have an impact on their daily lives.>
<Some of the issues that the candidates have said they will address if elected has to do with women’s rights as well as [amplifying] their voices within the different sectors in the country, she added.>>
Read more here:

The Guardian
Women report Afghanistan is supported by
Humanity United
Amie Ferris-Rotman and Zahra Nader
Fri 1 Oct 2021

<<Women report Afghanistan
‘I don’t know where to go’: uncertain fate of the women in Kabul’s shelters.
Women in refuges have been sent home to their abusers or to prison since the Taliban takeover. Those in the few shelters still open fear what lies ahead. Zari was seven years old when her parents died, forcing her to move in with her uncle. But when he died four years later, his two widows beat Zari and forced her to work long hours weaving carpets. During her teenage years, Zari tried to kill herself.
After her suicide attempt, Zari, now 28, moved into a shelter for abused women. For the past eight years she has held on to the belief that things would get better. She made friends and learned to sew clothes, eventually teaching others to do the same. But with the Taliban now in control of Afghanistan, she risks losing everything all over again. Shortly after the hardline group swept to power in mid-August, ending the American-led war, the small shelter sent several of its residents home. Zari and four other women who also have no family are the only ones remaining.
Overnight, the unmarked building tucked away in the Afghan capital went from her sanctuary to a place of danger. <The (staff) curse us, they tell us, ‘Your life is in your own hands. You can go anywhere you want.’ I am scared. I don’t know where to go,> said Zari, who spoke to the Guardian on the condition that we didn’t use her real name.

The shelter is one of nearly 30 such facilities in Afghanistan. Built up over the past 20 years, they operated as a discreet and often hidden part of the
international community’s commitment to advancing the rights of Afghan women. Most of the women’s cases were resolved within months, but some spent years at the shelter, learning new skills so they could reintegrate into society.
Over the past six weeks, this crucial lifeline has all but disappeared. Most of the shelters have closed their doors at the request of the Taliban, meaning women have either been sent home, often back to their abusers, or moved to secret locations. For those still operating, such as Zari’s, the future is uncertain. Of the three shelter directors who spoke to the Guardian, none are taking in new women.
The fate of the shelters symbolises the struggle for gender equality and the capacity to tackle violence against women in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The Islamist group has closed the women’s affairs ministry, replacing it with the headquarters for its “morality police”, created an all-male government and banned girls from attending secondary school. Human Rights Watch has documented Taliban abuses against women since they took over, including seeking out high-profile women, compulsory dress codes and denying freedom of movement outside their homes.

Mahbooba Seraj, a veteran women’s rights activist and manager of a shelter for 30 women in Kabul, says the Taliban are still figuring out what to do about women’s refuges. <They’re afraid that women in the shelters will leave, and end up on the streets and enter prostitution, which is very possible,> she says by phone from Kabul. <And they do not want that.>
Two weeks ago, 15 Taliban police officers , including secret police, visited Seraj’s shelter over several days, noting residents’ names and snooping around. The women wore veils so they could not be identified, Seraj said. Seraj told the Taliban that their visit was exceptional – a man had never crossed her shelter’s threshold before. <They looked at me as if they didn’t believe me. And one policeman asked, ‘Even the Americans?’ I laughed and said, ‘Neither American nor Afghan. Period.’ Why they thought Americans visited is beyond me.>
Now Seraj, the 73-year-old founder of the Afghan Women’s Network, an umbrella rights group, wants to know what the Taliban are planning for abused women. Even before the group seized power, Afghanistan regularly topped the list of countries with the poorest protections for women.
<The problems of the women of Afghanistan are the same as they were before the Taliban came to power. Women are still being abused, still have abusive families and are still drug addicts.> Despite a landmark 2009 law on the elimination of violence against women, more than half of all Afghan women reported physical abuse and of those who were married, 59% were in forced unions, according to government studies.

The past 20 years have proved how invaluable protection services are for Afghan society, said Kevin Schumacher, deputy executive director at Women for Afghan Women, a Washington-based nonprofit that manages the largest network of shelters in the country. >Next time there’s a gross violation of human rights … and the victim happens to be a woman, where is she going to go? Society does not function based on our ideological views. If the Taliban want to run a country, they need to have answers for these very real social needs.> >>
Read more here:

Al Jazeera
29 Sept 2021

<<In Kabul, life changing slowly under Taliban.
Noisy traffic returns to Afghan city’s streets and men can be seen playing cricket but there are subtle changes under way.
Some things that remain the same: Traffic is back to a noisy, congested snarl. The young men still play cricket and watch traditional wrestling matches in the city’s Chaman-e-Hozori Park. Under their previous rule, the Taliban banned many sports, but so far have not done so this time.

Many women seemed to stay off the streets in the days after the August 15 takeover, but in the weeks since, more and more are appearing back in public, some in longer coats and headscarves, some in the all-covering burqa, which has been worn traditionally by many in Afghanistan regardless of the Taliban. One woman on a recent day passed a row of beauty salons, where some advertisements on the windows had been defaced or covered to scratch out images of women, but some of the ads were untouched. It is emblematic of the in-between place where Kabul resides for the moment. Will the hardline Taliban impose the harsh restrictions it did when it ruled in the 1990s, or will there be some margins of flexibility?
Photos of all living things, even animals, were banned under their previous rule. So far that has not happened, but it is still unknown how far the Taliban themselves have decided to go.

Women are already feeling restrictions. Female employees in the Kabul city government have mostly been told to stay home, and high school girls have not been allowed back to class.
One subtler visual change: Fewer men are seen wearing Western dress. Government employees were the ones who most often wore Western-style clothes, and they have now switched over to the traditional shalwar-kameez combination of long shirt and baggy pants.
The most obvious change is the presence of the Taliban members themselves. Taliban fighters directing traffic or manning the many checkpoints have largely put on blue camouflage uniforms, giving them a more official air. But many other fighters wear the shalwar kameez. Most have never been to Kabul in their lives. On one evening, fighters sat guarding a building where Taliban members are being housed. Behind them on the blast walls, an old mural depicted a woman behind barbed wire, originally painted to comment on the harshness of war. On another day, a group of Taliban fighters, cradling their automatic weapons, enjoyed a day boating on a lake near Kabul, talking about how strange life was for them in this city.
Other signs show the growing economic desperation. The economy was already deteriorating before the Taliban came, with more than 55 percent of people living below the poverty level. Now after the takeover, it is crumbling fast, with the United Nations warning 97 percent could be below the poverty level by the end of the year. Makeshift markets have appeared everywhere, stocked with furniture and household goods as people sell off what they can. At one, women picked around rugs for sale. Another on the fringes of Chaman-e-Hozori Park was poorer, with old men peddling piles of old clothes. Districts with upscale restaurants and shops are emptier. Everyone talks of leaving the country.
At a camp of internally displaced people, food donations are distributed. Soot-covered men working at a brick factory say they are still producing, but fewer people are buying. As men line up for prayers on Friday, a little girl sits in front them, hoping to make some money shining shoes.
As night fell, a woman crossed the street holding the hands of a little girl and boy, the lights of Kabul dotting across the hills behind them.
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Al Jazeera
28 Sept 2021

<<From: The Stream
Is Afghanistan being left to go hungry?

How to feed Afghanistan?
An estimated 14 million people in Afghanistan, a staggering one-third of the population, are facing food insecurity, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The figure includes two million children who are already malnourished.

The situation has become a perfect storm – years of drought, conflict and economic deterioration, compounded by COVID-19. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the country is on “the verge of a dramatic humanitarian disaster.” The price of wheat has gone up by 25 percent since the Taliban took control of the country in August and the WFP says its food stocks will run out by the end of September.

Last week, some US sanctions on the Taliban were lifted to allow free movement of aid. But is that enough? In this segment, we’ll look at the situation and ask what Afghans need most as winter nears.>>
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