New York, NY – In response to President Joe Biden’s announcement Friday to unfreeze a portion of Afghan funds – currently held in U.S. financial institutions – for humanitarian assistance and to repay Taliban debts for actions related to 9/11, more than 125 Afghan women leaders – on behalf of 4,000 women – penned an open letter to the president. Organizations representing the 4,000 women include the Afghan Women’s Network and women leaders from Women Caucus & Women Commission of Afghan Parliament, Women Coalition for Peace Our Voice Our future, Afghan American Women Association, and Afghan Women Peace and Freedom Organization (AWPFO).
“We are now dealing with the pain of a hasty withdrawal of troops, and a ‘peace deal’ which allowed for the safe withdrawal of your troops, and return of the Taliban to power yet brought nothing but pain for Afghanistan and its people,” wrote the group. “Taking funds from the Afghan people is the unkindest and most inappropriate response for a country that is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in its history. It is the squeezing of a wounded hand.”
The Women’s Refugee Commission stands in solidarity with the authors of this letter and urges the Biden administration to listen to Afghan women, girls, and other marginalized populations and reconsider this decision.
See below for the full text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President,
We are profoundly saddened by the news that the Afghan funds deposited by the Central Bank of Afghanistan with the Federal Reserve Bank will be taken by the US Government to be split between humanitarian assistance and payments to the families of the victims of September 11.th While we share the sorrow of 9/11 and the lives lost as a result, both in the U.S. and Afghanistan, this decision by the world’s most powerful country over the resources of the world’s poorest country is extremely unfair. It will drive Afghanistan’s economy further into the ground.
Our people stood side by side with your nation for years, sacrificing more than any other nation in the war on terror. Moreover, the funds that the U.S. seeks to redistribute belong to the Afghan people, who were not responsible for the acts of Al Qaeda terrorists or the Taliban. The 9/11 terrorists were not Afghans. Evidence shows that the mastermind and co-conspirator, Osama Bin Laden, who lived in Pakistan military custody for ten years, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Pakistani radical Islamist, were killed and captured in Pakistan.
Today, Afghans are going through some of the darkest days of our history, partly because of over-confidence in our friends and allies during the ‘cold war’ and ‘war and terror’. The support of the U.S. for the most radical elements of the mujahideen during the Cold War, and the abandonment of Afghanistan by the international community after the Soviet withdrawal, gave rise to the terrorists that have victimized both of our countries. Thousands of Afghans have died every year in what was called the ‘war on terror’ by the U.S. and allies.
We are now dealing with the pain of a hasty withdrawal of troops, and a ‘peace deal’ which allowed for the safe withdrawal of your troops, and return of the Taliban to power yet brought nothing but pain for Afghanistan and its people. Many of us are now in exile, uprooted from our country and having left everything behind, trying to save what little dignity we can. Although we lost everything personally, it is this most recent decision by you which has been even more painful. As women, we do understand the hurt and sorrow experienced by each family member of the victims of September 11. However, we are sure they will not be healed or appreciate one penny of Afghan money when the men and women of Afghanistan feel they are being forced to sell one child to feed another because of life-threatening poverty.
We are also the victims of the short-sighted policies of big nations and the corrupt leaders that our international allies chose for us. The people of Afghanistan should not be victimized again by this collective failure. The assets of Afghanistan belong to its people. The Central Bank and the economy must be supported if the people are to survive.
Taking funds from the Afghan people is the unkindest and most inappropriate response for a country that is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in its history. It is the squeezing of a wounded hand. We ask you to reconsider this decision as we are still trying to heal what is left of us as a nation.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dr. Sima Samar
Dr Nilab Mubarez
Habiba Ashna Marhoon
Qazi Marzia Babakarkhail
Dr Farahnaz Nawabi
Gulalai Noor Safi
Faiza Javid Afzali
Dr Habiba Sarabi
Farukh Leqa Unchizada
Farzana Kochai Elham
Fawzia Javed Yaftali
Shukria Isakahil Hotak
The letter is on behalf of over 4000 women from the Afghan Women’s Network and Women leaders from Women Caucus & Women Commission of Afghan Parliament, Women Coalition for peace Our Voice Our future, Afghan American Women Association, Afghan Women Peace and Freedom Organization (AWPFO).