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UN Office Expresses Concern Over Ongoing Arrests of Education Rights Defenders in Afghanistan

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has expressed concern over the ongoing arbitrary arrests of education rights defenders in the country.

In a statement, UNAMA said that it is “deeply concerned” by the arrests of Ahmad Fahim Azizi, Siddiqullah Afghan, and Manizha Sadat, all of whom have been outspoken advocates for the rights of girls to education.

Azizi and Afghan were arrested by the Taliban on September 25, 2023, on charges of helping girls from the Afghan robotics team to leave the country. Sadat was arrested on October 17, 2023, for her work on women’s rights.

“The arrest of these individuals is a serious violation of their fundamental rights,” UNAMA said. “We call on the de facto authorities to immediately release them and to ensure that all Afghans are able to exercise their rights without fear of reprisal.”

The Taliban has not commented on the arrests.

Azizi is the founder of the PenPath Foundation, a civil society organization that advocates for the rights of girls and women. Afghan is a teacher and activist who has worked to promote girls’ education. Sadat is a lawyer and human rights defender who has worked to promote women’s rights.

The arrests of these activists come amid a growing crackdown on dissent in Afghanistan. The Taliban has restricted the rights of women and girls, including their access to education, work, and freedom of movement. UNAMA has repeatedly called on the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls