US Special Envoy meets Chair of AIHRC

US Special Envoy Meets Former Chair of AIHRC Shahrzad Abar

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, has met with Shahrzad Akbar who chaired the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) before the collapse of the previous Afghan government.

“She is continuing her work to monitor and document human rights abuses in Afghanistan,” the US special envoy said in a tweet thread on Thursday, November 17.

Thomas West has discussed the repression of women and minorities, the shrinking space for public expression, and the need for “national political dialogue” in Afghanistan with the former chairperson of the AIHRC.

Since their return to power, the Taliban have been restricting women’s freedom of movement, education, and work. Though such restrictions have triggered women’s rights protests in different parts of Afghanistan, the group has violently suppressed these protest rallies.

The Taliban have arrested a total of four women’s rights activists since the beginning of this month.

Earlier in November, the group’s intelligence operatives detained Zarifa Yaqobi and four of her male colleagues from a press conference in West Kabul.

Three other women’s human rights defenders – Farhat Popalzai, Humaira Yousuf, Parwin Sadat – went missing afterward.

Though the arrest of these activists triggered reactions from international human rights organizations and diplomatic missions, the Taliban are hesitant to share any details about the detained activists.