Yesterday I visited the tent of Afghan parliamentarian Simeen Barakzai who was on her 12th day of hunger strike in protest of the removal of 62 Afghan sitting parliametrians in what is claimed to be an illegal action by the government. She has not eaten or drank for 12 days, her kidneys are failing, she was not able to open her eyes or speak while I was visting her. You can read more about this in the artitcle in Washington Post.
She has been joined by a female parliamentarian and several university students who are also on hunger strike. Now there are four tents in the parking lot of the Ministry of Legal affair. Her husband told me that the government has threatened to forcefully remove them but they will resist . She is the first Afghan to go on a hunger strike for a cause. I was really amazed by the the protestor's bravery, Simeen's strenght and all the protestors' devotion to holding the Afghan legal system to a fair and transparent investigation of this case.
Simeen has three small boys, the youngest is two and half years old. My heart really goes out to her and her family but at the same time she is showing her fellow country men to stand up for their rights. Don't just grin and bear it. I feel it is time for Afghans to speak up for what their right both and to hold their government accountable for violations.
I do see a silver lining in this very sad situation. Could Afghans have imagined that someone could publicly protest against the government 10 years ago without being executed on the spot? Could we have imagined that a women would be the leading example of self expression and human rights? Could we have imagined that there would be an extensive media coverage of this type of event and that Afghan people would actually join hands to support such a protest? I say "No". Simeen is making history and turning a new page for Afghanistan's history from a post war country to a developing country.
So, as I roam the streets of Kabul and look out at the men, women and children going about their business, I can't help but think that even sad situations like this is an example of progress in a country like Afghanistan that has been silenced for so long. The Afghan people speaking up and being heard is a step toward Afghans for a civil Afghanistan.
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