May 24, 2022

Afghan sportswomen ‘terrified’, fearing for his or her lives

Afghanistan’s first feminine Olympian, Friba Rezayee, says she is “very indignant” that her nation’s plight is “falling off the world agenda” as she continues to assist these nonetheless making an attempt to flee.

Rezayee was considered one of many to oppose the Taliban takeover of the nation in August and says these nonetheless left within the nation are being forgotten.

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The previous judoka, who competed on the 2004 Olympic Video games, says she is in common contact with over 100 feminine Afghan athletes — together with members of the judo and volleyball workforce — and says some ladies are nonetheless in hiding over fears they’ll obtain punishment from the brand new regime after preventing for equality over the past twenty years.

“The feminine athletes’ lives are in excessive hazard they usually’re in hiding,” Rezayee advised CNN Sport, including that she was advised armed Taliban fighters had already visited the dojo the place the ladies used to coach.

Flag bearers Kimia Yousofi and Farzad Mansouri of Workforce Afghanistan throughout the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Video games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japa (Getty)

“They don’t seem to be solely in hiding, they’re altering their places and their addresses each two or three weeks as a result of the Taliban can discover them they usually do not wish to be captured or caught and to be punished.”

The photographs of individuals falling to their deaths as they held on to planes leaving Kabul airport shocked the world again in August — a tragic and really seen embodiment of how determined folks have been to flee the Taliban.

The group’s regime has since been positioned beneath immense stress to help the rights of girls by the worldwide group and professed to have modified since their earlier rule.

Nevertheless, of their 4 months of current rule, the brand new Taliban leaders have imposed limits on ladies’ training and stripped away rights that they had fought tirelessly for over the past 20 years.

‘Textbook instance of a humanitarian disaster’

The so-called “decree on ladies’s rights” that was launched earlier this month did not even point out entry to training or work.

The decree, which units out the principles governing marriage and property for girls, states that ladies shouldn’t be pressured into marriage and that widows have a share of their husband’s property.

“A girl shouldn’t be a property, however a noble and free human being; nobody can provide her to anybody in trade for peace…or to finish animosity,” stated the Taliban decree, launched by spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

“I do not consider that the Taliban has modified,” Rezayee added, saying she was “heartbroken” when the takeover occurred earlier this 12 months.

“[Girls] faculties are nonetheless shut. Athletes are nonetheless at dwelling in hiding. All people is terrified to even communicate or publish one thing on social media.

“Afghanistan felt prefer it was hit by an enormous meteoroid. Afghanistan is struggling significantly and that is the textbook instance of a humanitarian disaster.

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“We can’t ignore such a giant catastrophe on the earth. We have to maintain Afghanistan in our coronary heart and on our agenda.”

Born and raised in Afghanistan, Rezayee moved to Canada as a refugee in 2011.

She stated fundamentalists in Afghanistan “wished her useless” resulting from her participation in sport and he or she feared for the security of each her and her household on her return from the Olympic Video games.

Because of this, she went into hiding for a couple of months after which, after a household tragedy in 2005, she fled to Pakistan earlier than lastly searching for refuge in Canada.

She has since arrange a non-profit organisation, ‘Ladies Leaders of Tomorrow,’ which advocates for girls’s rights in Afghanistan.

In November, she wrote open letters to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Sean Fraser, minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, urging her adopted nation to assist these sportswomen fearing for his or her lives.

She is conscious work is being executed however says it isn’t taking place shortly sufficient.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which has not responded to Rezayee’s letter to Fraser, says it’s dedicated to serving to as much as 40,000 refugees and susceptible Afghans settle in Canada via a number of initiatives.

Final week, Fraser stated a aircraft carrying 184 Afghan refugees landed within the nation, however Rezayee is nervous that probably the most susceptible will not be being helped fast sufficient by the worldwide group.

“Canada was the primary nation on the earth to launch a humanitarian resettlement program for Afghan refugees, which stays probably the most bold of any nation,” stated IRCC spokesperson Alexander Cohen in a press release to CNN.

“By way of the pathways that we have applied, referral companions have begun referring susceptible individuals — together with Afghan ladies in danger — beneath our humanitarian resettlement program.

“They’re being processed as Authorities Assisted Refugees, and we proceed to discover additional prospects as we improve our dedication from 20 to 40,000 refugees.

“Sadly we can’t give particulars about particular instances resulting from privateness and safety causes.”

It added: “As requests to help persecuted teams have elevated dramatically because the fall of Kabul, Canada is working arduous to help as many susceptible folks as attainable.

“Now we have now welcomed practically 6,000 Afghan refugees and permitted purposes for roughly 12,000 others.”

‘Now could be the time’

Earlier this 12 months, actuality star Kim Kardashian and Leeds United proprietor Andrea Radrizzani helped fly 130 Afghan ladies soccer gamers and their households from Pakistan to Britain.

Former Afghanistan soccer captain Khalida Popal, who signed Rezayee’s open letters, has additionally spearheaded evacuation efforts for different feminine athletes from Afghanistan following the nation’s Taliban takeover in August.

Rezayee is nervous that lesser-known sports activities, corresponding to her beloved martial arts, will not be getting the identical help from massive sponsors and organizations.

She urged governments around the globe, in addition to celebrities, to assist fund the efforts to get visas for the ladies she is chatting with.

“Given the danger and the ideas of Taliban and girls’s sports activities, they’re equally certified to be evacuated, they usually’re equally in danger,” she stated.

“You might have the ability and the funding to assist us if you wish to attain out. Now could be the time.”

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