A human rights defender attempts to protest peacefully.
"Education. Food. Jobs!"
Esin (not her real name) is a writer and a passionate defender of human rights in Afghanistan. She talked to Afghan Witness about the difficulties she and fellow female protestors have faced while trying to stand up for their rights since the Taliban took over Kabul. When we spoke, Esin had recently participated in protests on 21 October with around 25-30 other women.
"We started our demonstration under the motto of education, food and jobs. Those are the basics that everybody needs. But especially now, women and girls are the ones who have suffered the most since the Taliban took over. Right from the start, the Taliban were not interested in our rights and at the protests they did not allow journalists. They beat some of them with their guns and scared the rest away,”
“One was shouting 'I am a journalist, I am a journalist!' but the Talib did not care, and berated and beat him until he ran away. We continued to Fawara Aab Square and planned to go to the former building of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which the Taliban has turned into the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. But the Talib prevented us, and we were faced with the choice of getting a beating or splitting up and dispersing the protest.”
“We won’t stop, we will continue our demonstrations to break the international community's silence over incidents happening in Afghanistan,”
One journalist and photographer who spoke to AW observed the demonstration as it moved from the area around the Gulbahar Centre in Kabul to the Isteqlal High School.
“When we got to the school, a Talib fighter took my hand and pushed me away from the demonstrators. I saw one beat a journalist with his gun, which caused some other journalists to leave. I moved away and went in front of Serena Hotel and then to Da Afghanistan Bank and took some pictures, but the Taliban were not happy and did not allow us to get more shots.”
“It is not the first time I’ve seen them beating journalists. I went to cover the Dehmazang explosion (20th October), and they beat journalists there. They don’t allow journalists to cover the issues that aren’t in their own interests.”
The Taliban did not issue any comment on the demonstration or the treatment of protestors or journalists at the event.
Esin will continue to protest and encourages other women to join her in standing up for their rights.
Phone interview with Afghan Witness