Backlash Against Oslo Freedom Forum as Women Protest Against Welcoming the Taliban

13 Jun 2023
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Backlash Against Oslo Freedom Forum as Women Protest Against Welcoming the Taliban

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Controversies erupted as the Oslo Freedom Forum hosts a delegation from the Taliban in the Norwegian capital. The forum, which commenced on Tuesday, June 13, welcomed the Taliban representatives, civil and human rights activists, as well as Western countries delegations, for a two-day gathering.

However, activists advocating for human and women’s rights inside Afghanistan and also in Norway, have started protests against the formal greeting and welcome of the Taliban members.

Expressing their concerns, these women, and rights advocates most of them female activists argue against rolling out the red carpet for a group known for its violations of human rights and its oppressive ban on women’s education and participation in Afghanistan.

The presence of the Taliban delegation on an international platform has raised concerns and opposition from those striving to protect the rights and freedoms that Afghan women have fought for years.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt has stated that three individuals who represent Afghanistan’s civil services are invited, who are not representatives of the political leadership of the Taliban.

Huitfeldt emphasized the importance of holding the Taliban responsible for the situation in Afghanistan in the interest of the Afghan people, while also highlighting Norway’s interests in preventing the country from once again becoming a breeding ground for terrorism.

Mina Rafiq’s solo protest in front of Norwegian Foreign Ministry/ Photo: Mina Rafiq’s Tweeter.

Norway hosted a similar meeting that took place in January 2022, nearly five months after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs faced criticism for extending the invitation back then.

At that time, before and after the meeting, Taliban delegations made promises of a more soft-line policy compared to their regime from 1996 to 2001. However, since regaining power, the Taliban State has imposed hard restrictions on girls’ education and limited women’s access to employment, raising doubt about their commitments.

The fate of Afghan women’s rights hangs in the balance, and the discussions made during this forum may shape the narrative of Afghanistan’s future trajectory, especially for women.

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