By AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Women are at the front line in protecting women’s human rights in Afghanistan. They are teachers, doctors, journalists, activists and politicians. Many have been killed or threatened because of their work to protect women’s rights, while some have fled the country. They face intimidation and attacks; some are threatened by their families for daring to speak out. The Taliban see their work as defying culture, religion and accepted role of women in society.
As Australian troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2013 the question must be asked, what will happen to the women? Amnesty International spoke to four brave and committed women – some who have paid a high price for their bravery – about the risks they face in championing the rights of women and girls. Here is the second of their stories. (See the first here.) For security reasons, names* have been changed.
Parween, a headmistress from Laghman province, was targeted for running a girls’ school. After receiving repeated threats from unknown men warning her to stop working, her son, Hamayoon, was abducted and killed. Here, she tells Amnesty International her story.
In April 2009 my young son Hamayoon, who was 18 years-old at the time, was kidnapped by unknown men. They are the people who are opposed to the progress and are the enemies of this country. Three days later I received a call from the kidnappers who told me that I could talk to my son for as long as I wanted as this was the last time I would speak to him.
My husband spoke to them and asked them why are you doing this to us? They said ‘because you’re working for the government [running a girls’ school] and for the Americans. Your wife is working, she was a parliamentary candidate, and was awarded the Malalai gold medal by Afghan-Americans. And you still say you have done nothing and ask why we are cruel to you?’
They handed the phone to my son and he asked me to come and take him back home. My son said that the kidnappers had told him to warn your mother and father to stop working otherwise they would face far severe consequences. That was the last time I spoke to my son.
A year and three months later, after heavy rainfall, a flood brought my son’s corpse to a Gardel desert.
His body was caught in a tree. Nomads living close by found his body and contacted the government and police who contacted us. My husband went to the police station and recognised the body as our son’s.
His body was taken to the public health hospital. We received his body from there and buried him.
The hospital gave us the post-mortem report. My son had 12 gunshot wounds to his body. The doctors told us that he had been killed at least three months before.