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Former Afghan Minister Nargis Nehan Calls for Global Unity Against Oppression and Gender Apartheid in Iran and Afghanistan

Former Afghan Minister Nargis Nehan gave a speech in support of the Iranian people and their Organized Resistance (NCRI and PMOI) led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi for a free, democratic, non-nuclear republic of Iran.

Paris, June 30, 2024 – Speaking at the Free Iran 2024 World Summit in Paris, Nargis Nehan, former Afghan Minister of Mines and Petroleum, delivered a passionate speech highlighting the global need to combat oppression and institutionalized discrimination against women.

Drawing attention to the global backlash against women’s rights and democracy, she criticized the rise of extremism, fundamentalism, and authoritarian regimes that justify the subordination of women, questioning why the world remains receptive to such ideologies when democracy offers so much more.

The former Afghan Minister pointed out that the dedication of extremist groups contrasts with the compromising stance of democratic preachers and believers, who often prioritize geopolitical and economic interests over their values. Nehan lamented the failure of international institutions, like the UN, to uphold their mission to protect democratic values and human rights.

Reflecting on the history of oppressive regimes in Iran and Afghanistan, Nehan criticized the policy of appeasement and the lack of decisive action against the Taliban and the Iranian regime. She shared the dire situation of women in Afghanistan, where Taliban decrees have severely restricted women’s rights and freedoms, effectively erasing their presence from society.

Nehan expressed frustration at the international community’s engagement with the Taliban, highlighting the hypocrisy of countries and institutions that claim to support women’s rights while simultaneously legitimizing oppressive regimes. She noted that despite these challenges, the resilience and resistance of women in Iran and Afghanistan continue to inspire and energize her.

Concluding her speech, Nehan called for support for Maryam Rajavi’s Ten-Point Plan and urged the international community to back an international campaign recognizing gender apartheid in Afghanistan and Iran as a crime against humanity. She stressed that such recognition would prevent any regime from treating women as the Taliban and the Iranian regime currently do.

The full text of former Afghan Minister Nargis Nehan’s speech follows:

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests. It’s my absolute pleasure to speak in this incredible gathering hosted for the freedom of Iran and Iranian sisters. I express my gratitude to Madame Maryam Rajavi and her team for inviting me to this important gathering.

What I find extremely incredibly impressive about this gathering is the presence of such distinguished guests from all around the globe, coming from very diverse social backgrounds, speaking different languages, following different faiths, having different skin colors, and have, but, but so much diversity still coming together under one roof to demonstrate their unity and also to stand for the principles that uphold and embrace equality, freedom, and liberty.

Once again, I am very honored to be among you and I am very humbled to be one of you. Dear fellows, I must take this opportunity to once again remind all of you that there is systematic and institutionalized discrimination against women in Iran and Afghanistan that needs our attention, support, and action, but I also have to remind you that we see a backlash against women’s rights around the globe.

We see a backlash against democracy. We see a backlash against women’s rights and against all those values that we have been fighting and struggling for for centuries and for decades. We see the fall of human rights. We see the fall of democracy and we see the fall of all those values that we worked so hard to store in our global village. In a state, what we see is the rise of extremism, fundamentalism, and the rise of authoritarian regimes around the globe.

The rise of those regimes that defend and justify the subordination of women. The fundamental question that we need to ask ourselves and our governments and policymakers is why the world is so receptive to extremism and fundamentalism when democracy has so much to offer.

Why subordinate women as secondary citizens when women can also make equal contributions to the development of their society and nourishment of their economy? The answer is very simple. The extremist groups are dedicated to their mission. They are not compromising their ideology while the preachers and the believers of democracy are compromising their values left, right, and center. Just for geopolitical, economic, and political interests.

If today we see the rise of extremism, it’s not because extremist groups are stronger. It’s just because of our resistance to democracy, our resistance to equality has weakened and our values are compromised. Because the institutions that we created today have forgotten their mission such as the UN. They don’t even remember the vision that it’s their job that they have to protect these values.

Those that we vote for should work and make sure that institutions are embracing these values and have forgotten about all these values. Today, unfortunately, we are not loyal to our values and we are not willing to stand for them and fight for them. And that is the harsh reality of today.

40 years back, an oppressive regime was installed in Iran. What did we do about it? We did nothing. All we did was preach, appeasement, appeasement, and appeasement. Nothing else. 40 years back, the U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban. Most of whom are sanctioned by the UN. And they brought them into power. They handed over Afghanistan and they reversed all the achievements that we worked so hard for them with your support for two decades. And let’s also remember that it was the U.S. and the international community that they came to Afghanistan and they said we are going to liberate Afghan women.

But in 2021, they forgot about Afghan women and their rights just because it was not for them like important anymore. Once again, like when we raise our voices and when we say that this was not the right way of withdrawing from Afghanistan, they just simply told us that the Taliban are the reality of Afghanistan. Just accept them.

Now let me give you a brief information about this very harsh reality of Afghanistan, and what they are doing in today’s Afghanistan. Last three years that they have come into power, they have issued more than 100 decrees. They do not allow girls to go to school beyond class six. They do not allow women to go to university. They do not allow them to work. They do not even allow them to go to the gym, to go to recreation places, to go to parks, or to travel without male guardians. They do not allow them to go to clinics or hospitals, even if they face emergencies if they do not have any male guardians with them.

Just two weeks back, the Supreme Leader of the Taliban suddenly woke up and said, okay, what else can I do with the women of Afghanistan to just torture them? Because they stood with the international community, they stood for all those values that we have been talking about for two days, all of us.

They say that all female civil servants that we banned from going to office three years back are going to receive just a $70 salary per month, flat, all of them, regardless of their background, qualification, and experience. Imagine a man who is cleaning in an office today in Afghanistan, in any institution, is receiving $180 per month as a salary, but a woman who might be a doctor, who might be a nurse, who might be a judge, who might be a professional, will be receiving only $70 per month and she’s also not allowed to go to the office.

That is the reality that we are facing in Afghanistan today. What we find highly frustrating is that besides all these harsh realities that we are totally erased from society, you do not see in any office that you go Afghan women anymore. Our voices are silenced and women are imprisoned in their own houses by the Taliban. We see the countries that are talking about women’s rights, democracy, and freedom, laying red carpets and receiving Taliban, having bilateral meetings with them, taking selfies with them and posting on social media.

We also see those different institutions, for example UN in the case of Afghanistan World Bank is coming and writing positive reports about Afghanistan and saying that, oh, the country has changed, the situation is much better now, there are these positive developments that we see inside Afghanistan.

You just tell me, how is it possible in any country where 50% of the population are imprisoned at home and former government employees are tortured, detained and most of the time they’re being killed and they call and they say that the situation has improved in Afghanistan. It’s just because that’s how unfortunate world politics is right now today.

In the last two years, the United Nations hosted two conferences. They wanted to start a political dialogue trying to find a solution to the current crisis that we have in Afghanistan. The Taliban refused to participate. They said we do not participate because you’re inviting women representatives, you’re inviting civil society representatives, you’re inviting other political group and factions. We are the only representative of the Afghan people, even if we don’t have their legitimacy and their vote, even if it’s a sham vote, still they don’t have it. They said we can only represent them.

While I’m talking to you today, the United Nations and most the countries are meeting actually Taliban in Qatar today. Today is the first day, but guess how they managed to get the Taliban this time to negotiate with the TPP staff? By removing women from the meeting, by removing civil society from the meeting, and by removing the women’s rights and human rights agenda from the meeting.

You must be asking that despite all these frustrations that you have and all these complaints that you have, how come you’re still standing tall in front of us and talking to all of us? Let me tell you, my fellows, my brothers, my sisters, it’s actually the women of Iran and women of Afghanistan, their resilience and their resistance that gave me hope and gave me the energy to stand in front of you and talk to you.

No matter who will stand with us, and who will not stand with us, we are going to continue our fight. We know that we are on the right side of the street. I would like to present three recommendations and conclusions. One is that please support the ten-point action plan of Madam Rajavi. If you really want to hand over a better future to Afghanistan please help us with an international campaign that we have started for recognition of gender apartheid in Afghanistan and Iran.

We are starting this campaign and we hope that many of you stand with us because once that is recognized as a crime against humanity and international law, no country, no regime on the earth will be able to deal with the women who treat the women the way that the Taliban and the Iranian regime are dealing with them.

Thank you very much.