Saturday, August 28, 2021

Afghan Women Journalists – Open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP Subject: Immediate danger to all Afghan women journalists


Below  is a letter with 40 signatories sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP.  Please feel free to circulate it. Thanks!

Copies were also sent  to Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ben Wallace MP, Secretary of State for Defence and John Whittingdale MP, Minister of State for Media and Data).
19 August 2021 Afghan Women Journalists – urgent letter
Open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP
Subject: Immediate danger to Afghan women journalists 
Several of us among the forty human rights activists, MPs, Peers and other signatories to this letter have worked in Afghanistan with women in media and women’s rights defenders. As women and as journalists these women are doubly targeted by the Taliban. As a debt to our commitment to free media, the UK could/should act swiftly to offer immediate refugee asylum to as many of them as possible. It is especially heart-wrenching for those of us who have worked in Afghanistan with these courageous women to see what is happening as the Taliban take over.
Context: over the past 17 years Afghan media has flourished. Around 2000 media outlets have been functioning with an estimated 12,000 working journalists of whom 2,000 are women. 
Afghanistan’s media women have a 100-years old history. Ershad al-Nuswan was the first women's magazine produced by the women of Kabul in 1921.  Since then Afghan women in media have had stages of ups and downs. Media in general was silenced during the regime of Taliban (1996-2001). 
Your sincerely
Lesley Abdela.  

Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, Member of Women in Journalism, Member of National Alliance of Women’s Organisations. Senior Partner Shevolution  
Urgent SOS messages: the following urgent messages are from Mandira Raut, Board Member of The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IWART), and separately from Afghan film-maker Sahraa Karimi.  
International Association of Women in Radio and Television Board Member, Mandira Raut says: ‘Dear Lesley, Thank you for your message. Yes Please add my name and I am forwarding this message to my board and also have copied them in this email as we all are trying our best to rescue our 9 Afghan IAWRT members who have received death threats. We are looking for every possible way to support them to leave the country and reside in any other countries.’
Excerpts from an open letter from Sahraa Karimi. ‘My name is Sahraa Karimi, a film director and current general director of Afghan Film, the only state-owned film company, established in 1968. I write to you with a broken heart and a deep hope that you can join me in protecting my beautiful people from the Taliban, especially filmmakers. In the last few weeks, the Taliban have gained control of so many provinces.

We know that this decision to abandon our people is wrong, that this hasty troop withdrawal is a betrayal of our people and all that we did when Afghans won the Cold War for the West. Our people were forgotten then, leading up to the Taliban’s dark rule, and now, after twenty years of immense gains for our country and especially our younger generations, all could be lost again in this abandonment.
We need your voice. Everything that I have worked so hard to build as a filmmaker in my country is at risk of falling. If the Taliban take over they will ban all art. I and other filmmakers could be next on their hit list. They will strip women’s rights, we will be pushed into the shadows of our homes and our voices, our expression will be stifled into silence. 
I do not understand this world. I do not understand this silence. I will stay and fight for my country, but I cannot do it alone. 
Please help us get this world to care about what is happening to us. Please help us by informing your countries’ most important media what is going on here in Afghanistan. Be our voices outside Afghanistan. If the Taliban take over Kabul, we may not have access to the internet or any communication tool at all. Please engage your filmmakers, artists to support us to be our voice.
This war is not a civil war, this is a proxy war, this is an imposed war and it is the result of the US deal with the Taliban. Please as much as you can share this fact with your media and write about us on your social media.
The world should not turn its back on us. This support would be the greatest help we need right now.
Please help us before the Taliban take over Kabul. We have such little time, maybe days. Thank you so much. I appreciate your pure true heart so dearly.
With regards, Sahraa Karimi.’ 

Letter Co-Signatories:

Zarghuna Kargar award winning journalist based in London. Formerly producer and presenter the BBC Afghan Woman's Hour.  She has dedicated most of her journalistic career to working for and with Afghan women, reporting and writing their stories. She speaks Pashto, Dari, English, and Urdu. 

Mandira Raut, Board Member, International Association of Women in Radio and Television. Email:
Tim Crook  - President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies,  Goldsmiths, University of London.
Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative) MP Worthing West, Father of the House of Commons.
Women in Journalism
Bahaar Joya.BBC correspondent in Afghanistan 2012/2015 Reuters 2017/2018 Focus on women’s issues in Afghanistan and Iran.
Rachel Wright, BBC Film-maker, Journalist and Trainer for BBC Persian TV, BBC Arabic TV, BBC Urdu TV.
Layla Moran MP Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development.
Julie Ward MEP Labour North West England region, 2014 to 2020.
Robin Squire, (Conservative) Parliamentary Under Secretary, Departments of Environment and Education 1992-1997.
Jamie Stone MP for Cathness, Sutherland and Eastern Ross   Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence), and (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport).
Baroness (Jane) Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury- Liberal Democrat spokesperson in the Lords for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Journalist and TV producer -  the BBC and Channel 4: Panorama, Newsnight and A Week In Politics and documentaries. 
Janet Gunn CMG, Trustee of the BEARR Trust.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
Right Honourable, The Baroness Featherstone, PC.
Martha Jean Baker – Former International Vice President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Qaisra Shahraz MBE, award winning peace & gender activist. Founder and Executive Director of Muslim Arts and Culture Festival, & Muslim Women Arts Foundation/Festival (2022) and trustee of We Stand Together.
Kali Mountford, former Labour MP, Colne Valley, Former Secretary to the APPG on Domestic Violence & PPS to Defence Secretary 
Rt. Hon. Lord McNally
Claire Curtis-Thomas (Labour) Former MP for Crosby. 
Baroness Grender, Liberal Democrat Peer (Olly Grender).
Barbara Cleary Vice Chair, Security Women.
Dr Juliet Colman, Director, Security Wome
Sally Spear, Chair, Women’s Advisory Council to United Nations Association UK (UNA-UK)
Rubi Bhattacharyya, Secretary of Women’s Advisory Council - UNA-UK
John Austin Past Chair British Group of the Inter Parliamentary Union. (Labour MP Woolwich/Erith & Thamesmead 1992-2010)
Annette Lawson, OBE. Ambassador, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations
Jane Grant, co-founder the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO).
Britt Gustawsson, Zonta London Club, Zonta International
Richard Burden, Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield 1992-2019
Nick Palmer,  (Labour) former MP for Broxtowe
Eileen Gordon  former MP for Romford
Hilarie Owen, CEO The Leaders Institute and Author 
Dr Denis MacShane. Former Europe Minister
  Brenda Rosen
Margaret Owen OBE, President and Founder Widows for Peace through Democracy. Barrister specialising in women’s human rights. 
Maxine Peake, Writer, Film and Theatre Actress.
Khatija Barday-Wood, Founder of Empowers, Inspires and Motivates Muslim women through Advocacy and Nurture (EIMAN)
Felicity Read, Managing Director, Leapfrog PR 
Swadeka Ahsun
Katherine Trebeck, Economist, The Wellbeing Economy Alliance

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