From Monaco, the world’s second-smallest state to the most populous country, India, representatives of more than 20 governments and international organizations on Monday criticized the Taliban’s policies of closing secondary schools and denying Afghan girls and women other fundamental rights. Condemned it.
Even Pakistan, a so-called Taliban ally, expressed concern about the denial of education for Afghan girls at the UN talks on human rights in Afghanistan. The dialogue was part of the 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which began in Geneva on Monday.
Russia and China in particular did not join the criticism. A Russian diplomat pointed to the progress made for women’s rights under the Taliban.
“We note the efforts of the new Afghan government to ensure the rights of women and girls in the areas of marriage and property inheritance,” a Russian representative told a UN event. More than 130,000 women are employed in the health and education sectors.
No Taliban representative was present at the event as the United Nations does not recognize the so-called Islamic Emirate of the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Instead, former Afghan government diplomats are still recognized as Afghan representatives at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
The Russian diplomat further said that some schools were closed because the Taliban could not afford to set up separate classes for girls. He blamed the United States and other Western donors for freezing aid to Afghanistan and imposing sanctions on the Taliban, which, according to the Russian diplomat, has adversely affected the Afghan education sector.
“We ask the US and Britain and their satellites to meet their own obligations to the past conflict, rather than issue new demands to the Taliban,” he said, adding that the current crisis in Afghanistan was a result of the past. Two decades of American intervention there.
UN chief urges Taliban to end ‘unfair’ ban on girls’ education
A Chinese representative also refrained from criticizing the Taliban’s policy, calling for the return of girls to secondary schools in Afghanistan.
“We call on the countries concerned to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and to lift the sanctions unilaterally,” the Chinese representative said.
Monday’s statement was the strongest statement by a Russian official in support of the Taliban.
“The statements by the Russian representative in Geneva are not consistent with what Russia has previously said about Afghanistan in other settings,” John Sifton, Human Rights Watch’s Asia Advocacy Director, told Granthshala.
“As recently as this June, Russia agreed to a strongly worded UN Security Council statement about Afghanistan in which the Security Council, including Russia, called on the Taliban to allow girls to go to school.”
Even the Taliban have not said that Western sanctions and the resulting economic problems have forced them to close secondary schools for girls. Taliban officials have offered religious and cultural justification for their decision against secondary education for girls.
“We believe that the economic crisis is affecting the human condition. We agree about this. But the idea is that it is responsible for the fact that [the] It is absurd to not allow Taliban girls to go to secondary schools. this is absurd. It’s a lie,” Sifton said.
The United Nations and human rights groups accuse the Taliban of implementing policies that aim to eliminate women from the public sphere.
“There is no country in the world where women and girls have been deprived of their fundamental human rights so rapidly,” Richard Bennett, the UN special envoy on Afghanistan, told the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“Do you know what it’s like to have that feeling wiped out?” Afghan women’s rights activist Mehbooba Seraj asked the same session. “I’m wiped out, and I don’t know what else to do. … How many times must I scream and scream and say, ‘World, pay attention to us. We’re dying’?”
The Taliban have defended their policies towards Afghan women, accusing the United Nations and rights activists of spreading “malicious propaganda” against their de facto government.
“Today, there is no threat to women’s lives in Afghanistan, and no women or their loved ones die in war or raids,” a Taliban statement issued in response to Bennett’s report said. “There are 181 public and private universities open to men and women in the country, and thousands of women work in education, higher education, public health, passport and national identity bureaus, airports, police, media, banks and other sectors.”
However, such statements are viewed with deep suspicion outside Taliban circles.
The United Nations reports that the Taliban has become increasingly authoritarian, clamping down on freedom of expression and depriving people of their civil and political rights.
At the UN event, representatives from several countries called on the Taliban to exert strong international pressure to respect women’s rights.
“Anyone who wishes to participate in the international system must be respected” [women’s rights], Shame on us if we all don’t insist on that,” said Michelle Taylor, US representative to the UN Human Rights Council.
In April, the United Nations General Assembly suspended Russia from the Human Rights Council over the country’s alleged atrocities in Ukraine.