In separate protests in Afghanistan and Germany, Afghan women rights activists have demanded the Taliban release two activists detained last month under unknown circumstances.
Nearly a dozen women activists in the northeastern province of Takhar on October 15 called on the Taliban to release women’s rights activists Neda Parwani and Zholya Parsi, whose detention on September 19 prompted a rebuke of the Taliban rulers by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for a spate of “arbitrary arrests and detentions.”
“We demand their release and [call on the international community] to recognize [the Taliban’s policies toward women] as gender apartheid,” said Parisa Mubarez, one of the activists in Takhar.
In addition to Parwani and Parsi’s arrests, reports suggest the Taliban has also detained Parsi’s son and husband.
They are among the hundreds of Afghan women detained by the Taliban since it returned to power in the wake of the final withdrawal of the U.S.-led international troops in August 2021.
Since then, the hard-line Islamist group has banned women from education, employment, and public life with few exceptions. These policies are rooted in the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Women opposing or protesting the Taliban’s restrictive policies have faced its wrath.
“There is no information about whether these detained activists have access to health care and legal services,” Monse Mubarez, another of the women’s rights activists, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi on October 15.
“We are more worried about Zholya because even the place of her detention is unknown,” she added.
Meanwhile, a hunger strike by Tamana Zaryab Paryani and other Afghan activists entered its 17th day in the German city of Cologne.
The group on October 15 also demanded the release of Afghan activists and pleaded with the international community to declare the Taliban’s policies as gender apartheid.
“As a last resort, we are fighting through this sit-in protest,” said Zarmina Paryani, a sister of Tamana Zaryab Paryani. “This is a fight against the silence of human rights organizations.”
Paryani launched a similar protest last month, which garnered some support from activists.
In the past two years, the Taliban has detained hundreds of women’s rights activists, human rights campaigners, academics, and journalists.
In addition to Parwani and Zholya, the Taliban is currently holding journalist Morteza Behbodhi, Rasul Parsi, an academic, and education activist Matiullah Wesa.
On September 29, UNAMA expressed concern over the arrests and detentions of other individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion.
“Ongoing arrests and detentions of individuals simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion is deeply troubling and contrary to Afghanistan’s international human rights obligations,” UNAMA said.