Afghanistan Civil Society Rep, Ms. Hoda Khamosh, Speech in Oslo, Norway

In the name of God of Freedom and Equality.

My name is Hoda Khamosh, a woman among the millions women of Afghanistan. In here I do not represent any political group or faction. I lived under the Taliban rule for five months and eight days in Kabul. I have come here at the invitation of the Norwegian government to spread the message of the women of Afghanistan who are protesting on the streets of Afghanistan against the repression and terror that the world is responsible for. I made it alive here from the shadow of whips and bullets.

What I am saying here is the words of millions of Afghan citizens who are stuck in the midst of disaster and destruction. Millions of women are currently being subjected to gender apartheid by the Taliban. Women are systematically eliminated, denied, insulted, and humiliated.

After capturing Kabul, the Taliban created a factional, police regime through assassination and coercion, and by marginalizing and eliminating a large part of Afghanistan. Over the past five months, the Taliban have denied citizens basic rights; they have confined women inside the houses, deprived from education; they have killed and tortured their opponents, mostly former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, and they have perpetuated systematic discrimination against other ethnic groups. The Taliban have also created their interrogative machinery of people’s beliefs and behaviors in the name of [Ministry for] Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Now I turn your attention to a few of the many long lists of crimes and assassinations that have taken place over the last five months.

1. Photojournalist, Mr. Morteza Samadi, was arrested and tortured by the Taliban on September 7, 2021, during a civil protest in Herat.

2. Ms. Alia Azizi, the former head of the Herat Women’s Prison, has been missing for more than five months.

3. Mr. Taqi Daryabi and Mr. Nematullah Naqdi, reporters for the daily Etilaatroz were arrested and severely tortured by the Taliban while covering the September 7, 2021 protests in Kabul.

4. Dozens of young people demonstrated in Balkh on September 7 and 8 to demand their rights and freedoms. The Taliban arrested 70 protesters, including 40 protesting girls, and transferred them to an unknown location. They were tortured and some of them were raped. One week later, the bodies of eight detainees were found on the streets of the city [of Mazar]. Several detained women were assassinated after their release from prison. But the fate of the nine detained girls is still unknown and they are still missing.

5. Last Wednesday, five of my comrades Ms. Tamana Zaryab Paryani, along with her three sisters Zarmina, Shafiqa, and Karima, and another civil activist, Ms. Parwana Ibrahimkhel, who were protesting Taliban policies, were arrested. This happened in the dark of night, after breaking down the gate of their house. They have been taken to an unknown place and their fate is unknown.

I feel their pain from thousands of miles away with my bones and hear their cries under the Taliban torture. The question is: why are the Taliban imprisoning us in Kabul and now sitting here at the negotiating table with us in Oslo? What is the international community doing in the face of all this torture and repression? Suppression and assassination take place in front of your eyes. By remaining silent or tolerating the Taliban, you are partly responsible for these crimes and repression committed against men and women of Afghanistan. I am going back to Afghanistan, but I do not know what awaits us. I ask the Norwegian foreign minister how come she circumvented international law and invited those individuals who are on [international] sanctions list?. Isn’t this an indirect recognition [of the regime]?

On behalf of the Afghan women protesters, I propose the following four items to restore some civil order in Afghanistan:

1. Mr. Amir Khan Mottaqi must pick up his phone now and call Kabul. [He should] order the immediate release of Tamana Zaryab Pariani and her three sisters (Zarmina, Shafiqa, and Karima), Parwana Ebrahimkhel, Halia Azizi, and open the gates of all schools unconditionally.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights, every human being has the right to take part in the peaceful assembly against inhuman and anti-human rights laws. We, the protesting women, only demanded our rights with the slogan of “bread, work, and freedom.” However, the Taliban arrested, tortured, and humiliated us.

2.  Women of Afghanistan want equal rights. Until a new constitution is created, the second chapter of the previous constitution must be upheld to restore and recognize the fundamental rights of citizens. The Taliban and no other group have the authority to restrict our fundamental rights. Any kind of redefinition of rights and freedoms must be done through national dialogues and a collective consensus.

3. An autorotative and independent Council should be established by the United Nations consisted of the families of the victims, the victims, representatives of the people, and independent international human rights bodies. [The Council should] monitor and investigate the conduct and policies of the Taliban. The Council should investigate [the situation inside] Taliban prisons and immediately release prisoners of conscience based on political [beliefs] and gender. Next, the Council should address all the war crimes committed in the last twenty years.

4. To restore political order and stability, Afghanistan needs a legitimate system based on the approval of all citizens. We need the agreement of political factions and different segments of the people on a roadmap for a political and democratic solution to the dilemma of Afghanistan. Traditional solutions, such as holding a Loya Jirga, cannot replace democratic ways of establishing political legitimacy.

The new chapter of our struggle for Afghanistan, which respects the rights and equality of all citizens, especially women, began five months and eight days ago, and we have a long way to go. The international community should not close its eyes to us.

In the hope of freedom and equality.

Hoda Khamoush 

Oslo – Norway

Translated by Sabir Ibrahimi from the original Farsi text in the 8am.af

Photo credit 8am.af