Photo: Social Media

Rights Groups Demand the Release of Activist Manizha Sediqi

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – Washington-based human rights organization, Freedom Now, called for the immediate and unconditional release of Manizha Sediqi, a female protester who has been held in Taliban custody since last September.

In a social media post on Wednesday, February 21, Freedom Now expressed concern about the well-being of Ms. Sediqi, emphasizing that she is at risk of torture and ill-treatment in the Taliban prison.

“The Taliban abducted Manizha Sediqi, a woman protester, from her home in Kabul four months ago,” the organization said. “We demand her immediate, unconditional, and safe release,” it added.

Ms. Sediqi, affiliated with the Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women, a women-led movement formed after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, has been actively involved in advocating for the human rights of women and girls in the country. Since then, the movement has organized many outdoor and indoor peaceful protests in Kabul and many other provinces, calling on the Taliban to end the discriminatory treatment and deprivation of women and girls in the country.

Since their return to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on freedoms and women’s rights. Many instances have been reported where women protesters are detained, subjected to ill treatment and torture in Taliban prisons, highlighting the dire situation in the country.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that beside these women activists who are detained by the Taliban and reported, there are many other unnamed women activists being held by the regime.

“You haven’t heard of most of the detained women. Families are terrified into concealing their arrests, hoping silence might buy their release or reduce abuses in custody,” the HRW said. “Families struggle to locate the detained women, who are effectively forcibly disappeared,” it added.

Earlier, Ms. Sediqi’s family voiced concern about her well-being, stating that she is in critical condition in the Taliban prison. They pleaded for help from human rights organizations and the international community to intervene and ensure her safety.

Since her detention, numerous human rights organizations and advocates, including Amnesty International, have vocally demanded her immediate and unconditional release. However, the ruling regime has yet to respond to these pleas.

According to Amnesty International, Ms. Sediqi was forcibly disappeared in September 2023 and found weeks later in Taliban custody. The organization asserts that she lacks access to a lawyer or regular family visits during her detention and is at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in the Taliban prison.

On Wednesday, February 14th, Amnesty International penned a letter to Abdul Haq Wasiq, the Taliban Director of Intelligence, expressing concern about the arbitrary arrest and detention of Ms. Sediqi, and urging for her immediate and unconditional release.

“Amnesty International’s findings indicate that Manizha Seddiqi has been deprived of family visits, lacks access to lawyers and medical care, and her health is deteriorating,” the organization wrote in the letter.