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EU-Afghan working group tackles human rights issues

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2021)

The third meeting of the EU-Afghanistan Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration was held on Wednesday virtually in which parties involved expressed grave concern about the continuing high level of violence, and condemned the increasing number of targeted killings of media workers, civil society activists and law enforcement officials.

In a statement issued late Wednesday night, the European Union stated the parties discussed human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of the ongoing Afghan peace process.

The parties “expressed grave concern about the continuing high level of violence, and condemned the increasing number of targeted killings of media workers, civil society activists and law enforcement officials, who are essential bastions of a democratic and open society.”

The EU called on the Afghan government to “provide for the security of these important actors in society, as well as conduct thorough investigations, bring the culprits to justice and keep the Afghan public fully informed about the measures taken.”

The EU also emphasized the importance of respecting and promoting International Humanitarian Law to protect civilians in conflict by all parties to the conflict.

“The protection of civilians, medical and education facilities as well as humanitarian workers, cannot wait for peace. The parties stressed that only an immediate cessation of violence would restore confidence in the sincerity of the Taliban for a political settlement to end the war,” the statement read.

The EU and Afghanistan meanwhile agreed on the importance of an enhanced promotion of inclusivity in the peace talks, notably the involvement of women, youth, minorities, internally displaced persons, refugees and victims of war, to ensure an ownership of the process by all Afghans.

They also underlined that the preservation and further strengthening of the democratic and human rights gains of the last 20 years is indispensable during and after the peace process, and referred to the broad-based consensus on this, as expressed at the Geneva Conference for Afghanistan in November 2020.

“In the areas of women and children’s rights, the necessity to enforce legislation against widespread violence and harmful practices was highlighted, as well as the need to address discrimination against religious minorities.

“In the field of governance, the EU and Afghanistan emphasised the importance of free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive electoral processes that would facilitate legitimate transfer of power, and discussed the experiences of their electoral cooperation and the prospects of continuing electoral reform.

“Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) issues were also addressed, in view of the EU’s ongoing assessment of Afghanistan’s AML/CFT regime,” read the statement.

Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts were also discussed along with the regional dimension of migration.

The parties discussed the measures taken by the Afghan Government and commended their joint coordination in the area of anti-corruption policy and institutional reforms, and committed to keep the matter high on their bilateral agenda.

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US may resume Fulbright scholarship program for Afghans

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2022)

The US State Department says it is considering resuming the Fulbright scholarship program for Afghan students for the 2023-2024 academic year.

A spokesperson for the US State Department told VOA: “We continue to work towards the safe resumption of the Fulbright program for Afghan students.”

He added: “For this course, we are considering semi-final applicants [for the academic year] 2022-2023.”

The semi-final applicants have already passed most of the eligibility stages and exams, including the English language test, which are required to join this study program, VOA reported.

After the collapse of the previous government and the Islamic Emirate’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the United States canceled the Fulbright program for Afghans.

Every year, about 4,000 foreign students from dozens of countries receive Fulbright scholarships. More than 400,000 students from 160 countries have participated in this program since its inception in 1946.

From 2003 to 2021, more than 950 Afghans have benefited from the opportunity to study at the master’s and doctorate level in Fulbright programs. Fulbright master’s programs are one or two years, but the study period of the doctoral level is five years.

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Afghan scholars issue 11-point resolution after 3-day mass gathering in Kabul 

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2022)

An Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) gathering of religious scholars and ethnic leaders in Kabul ended on Saturday after an 11-point resolution was agreed to. 

Resolutions adopted related to a number of issues including the IEA’s call for the international community to recognize them as the legitimate government in Afghanistan. 

“We call on the world, neighboring countries, the United Nations, global organizations, specifically on the Islamic countries and agencies to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as a legitimate government,” the resolution read. 

In addition, the participants at the meeting also called for all sanctions against the IEA and its leaders to be lifted and for the country’s frozen assets to be released. 

The IEA’s reclusive leader Haibatullah Akhundzada also joined the three-day gathering of more than 3,000 men on Friday, and delivered a speech in which he congratulated the participants on their victory and underlined the country’s independence. 

Akhundzada, who is normally based in the southern city of Kandahar and rarely appears in public, said in his address on Friday that foreigners should not give orders.

In their resolution, the religious scholars stated that defending the Islamic Emirate was obligatory and that the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh), which has claimed responsibility for a number of incidents in recent months, was illegal.

A statement issued by the religious scholars outlining their 11-point resolution read as follows:

1. As we now have an Islamic system, we all support and defend the IEA system and it is compulsory for all Afghans to support and defend the Islamic system.

2. The 3,000 scholars once again renewed their allegiance to the supreme leader of the IEA Haibatullah Akhundzada and accepted him as the legitimate leader based on Sharia.

3. As the IEA has been formed without the interference of other countries, this verifies its domestic legitimacy. We call on the world, neighboring countries, the United Nations, global organizations, specifically on Islamic countries and agencies to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as a legitimate government. In addition, they must remove all sanctions from Afghanistan and should release the county’s frozen assets. 

4. We (scholars) support and praise the issued order of the IEA for not cultivating poppies and other drugs in the country. 

5. We support the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of neighboring and world countries by the IEA and we support the IEA’s decision to not allow any countries to use Afghanistan’s soil against any country. Likewise, we call on the countries around the world and neighbors not to interfere in the domestic affairs of Afghanistan. 

6. As the IEA is an Islamic system and has full sovereignty across the country by providing security, any means of armed resistance against the IEA is rebellion and the eradication of such armed resistance groups is compulsory by the IEA and the nation. 

7. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP/Daesh) is an illegal group which spreads corruption in the country; therefore, financially supporting this group and having relationships with it is haram. 

8. We call on scholars who fuel controversial issues to refrain from such topics so as not to cause sedition in the country.

9. We urge the Islamic Emirate to establish justice in the country and to pave the way for religious and modern education, health, agriculture, rights of ethnic minorities and women and children and economic development, within the structure of Sharia. 

10. We call on the leadership of the IEA to stabilize their internal unity, national unity and to protect national sovereignty. Also, we urge them to create job opportunities for Afghans and to eradicate poverty in the country.

11. We support the Contact Commission with the Afghan Personalities established by the IEA and we call on politicians and figures based in foreign countries to return home.

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Afghan families would leave country if girls’ schools do not reopen: Hekmatyar

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2022)

Many Afghan families would leave their country if secondary girls’ schools do not reopen, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said on Friday.

Hekmatyar, in his Friday sermon, said that a decision should be made regarding the issue of girls’ education at the gathering of religious scholars in Kabul.

“What does Islam say? What does our religion say? What do our imams and jurists say? What does the Qur’an and Hadith say?” Hekmatyar asked. “A decision should be made in this regard and it should be acceptable to all Afghans.”

“If the issue is not addressed, many families would leave Afghanistan only because girls’ are deprived of education here,” Hekmatyar said.

More than 3,000 religious scholars and ethnic leaders have gathered in the Loya Jirga hall in Kabul in what is said to be the largest gathering since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took over in August last year.

While primary girls’ schools reopened in March, IEA didn’t allow the secondary ones to reopen.

In his speech, Hekmatyar also said that other issues including establishing parliament and drafting a new constitution should also have been on the agenda of the meeting.

Hizb-e-Islami leader also said that the government should clear its policy on political parties in Afghanistan.

On freedom of speech, Hekmatyar said that censorship would help corruption, a menace which could lead to collapse of governments.

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