Afghan Woman Politician and Women’s Rights Activist Killed in Kandahar

Sitara Achakzai, a Kandahar provincial council member and women’s rights activist, was murdered by gunmen outside her home yesterday. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmedi has claimed responsibility for her death. Another woman on the Kandahar provincial council, Zarghona Kakar, survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2007, according to Deutsche Welle.

Achakzai held dual Afghan-German citizenship and lived in Germany until 2004, when she and her husband, a professor at Kandahar University, returned to Afghanistan to work on redeveloping the country and for women’s rights. Last year, she organized a “prayer for peace” demonstration attended by about 1,500 women on International Women’s Day.

An anonymous friend of Achakzai’s told The Guardian that “she knew the danger she was in. Just a couple of days ago she was joking about the fact that she had a 300,000 rupee price on her head….Like other women she would always travel in a rickshaw rather than a big armored Humvee because it’s less conspicuous, but it also made her easier prey.” Another anonymous friend told the Globe and Mail “I want the world to understand how every person in this crazy place is feeling because this is a wake-up call to all of us that we could be next….The sad thing is nobody cares, it seems.”


The Guardian 4/13/09; Philadelphia Inquirer 4/13/09; Deutsche Welle 4/13/09; Globe and Mail 4/13/09

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