Tuesday 17 August 2021

Afghanistan Crisis: Human Rights champion Dr.Sakena Yacoobi pleas for help


Dr Sakena Yacoobi teaching/Credit: AIL


I wanted to share with you this heart-wrenching letter I've received from peace activist and educator Dr Sakena Yacoobi about the crisis going on in Afghanistan. Please read her first-hand account of the chaos and help out in any way you can. 


Yacoobi is an amazing woman: people call her Afghanistan’s “mother of education". She has founded the Afghanistan Institute of Learning (AIL) there and dedicated her life to educating women and children. I've interviewed her for a piece in the New Internationalist a few years ago. 


Here is her letter: 


Dear, Friends, Supporters, and Colleagues,

This is one of the most difficult letters I have ever written. After twenty years, our government collapsed with almost no resistance. The constitution we worked so hard for, the rights our women sacrificed so much to gain, thrown out the window like scraps for the dogs. Our military and the Ghani government fled, leaving our women and children to face the Taliban with no support. The world watched it happen, without care. We begged, screaming for help. So, now we see peace is again made on the back of women and children. It is what it is. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has fallen, and Kabul is in complete chaos. My office and staff are unharmed, for which we thank God. 

The nation of Afghanistan is in turmoil. My schools still stand, as of now, we have been instructed that we can continue as long as we separate boys and girls. The day the Taliban took Kandahar, they planted their flags in the courtyard of three of them. My schools must be important, as they visited the very first day the Taliban took control. Our Women Learning Centers remain open as they primarily serve women. As of now, my staff is unharmed. We hope and pray this remains true. We have been told that Radio and TV Meraj are not to operate until we are given notice, we will wait for that instruction. We hope and pray that the Taliban wasn’t lying when they told the world they did not intend to shut the schools, but our universities have already shut their doors to women and told them to go home. Burqa sales have tripled, as have the prices to purchase them. Women who lived through the Taliban before, go now to purchase these garments, while the daughters raised under the American occupation throw them in the faces of their mothers, refusing to wear them. 

We are a nation at a crossroads, but AIL will do what AIL has always done. We will continue to educate and provide a safe space for children and women. We will continue to offer food and job training and medical care for as long as we can remain in our facilities. When it is no longer possible to remain in those buildings, we will find new buildings, and work from there. Wherever we have schools now, we will have schools next week or next month or next year. AIL was started in secret and it will continue in secret if it must. While we are afraid, we are not defeated. Our mission remains the same. We will set up schools in every province, now that the worst has come. We know what to expect. We know the Taliban very well. There is no question of how they operate, or what they expect. We know how to manage them. We will do so. 

Letter after letter, phone call after phone call, came in this weekend asking how you can help. We need humanitarian supplies. The refugee situation we updated you with last week and the week before has only deteriorated. We have 300,000 internal refugees and 80,000 children who are without shelter and food. Where we were short of supplies, now we are out. Those in need are overwhelming us. Aid agencies have left with the American’s. AIL will not be leaving, so we will expand our facilities to help those who lost everything, including their homes, in the fighting. We need dry milk, clothes, school supplies, medicine, hygiene items, and Covid is still present, so soap and sanitizers are critical. Many of you have asked what else you can do, and to that I say contact the UN and government officials and tell them you want them to use every possible tool they have to protect our women and girls through diplomatic means. Sanction Pakistan for their invasion of my country, and pray for the safety of my people. 

Our democracy may have fallen for now. Ideas do not disappear so easily. One cannot kill whispers on the wind. The Taliban cannot crush a dream. We will prevail, even if it takes longer than we wanted it too. 

Much love to you all,

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi

 What you can do to help:

Donate to AIL https://www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org/

UK MP information line, simply tell them whom you wish to speak to or give address information to find out the name of your MP. 020 7219 4272

Email the White House https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Email Number 10 Downing Street https://email.number10.gov,uk/

Request Peacekeepers https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/contact

International Committee of the Red Cross https://www.icrc.org,/en/contact

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