WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of threats against human rights advocates in Afghanistan after the Loya Jirga and continued reports of violence against women in the provinces, the Feminist Majority has renewed its call for the immediate expansion of international peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan. Today, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz have been called before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to answer questions about the lack of U.S. support for peace troop expansion beyond Kabul.
“President Bush promised that the U.S. would not abandon the Afghan people, especially Afghan women,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “It is now time for the Bush Administration to support an expansion in the number, mission, and jurisdiction of international peacekeeping troops and to support a significant increase in funding for reconstruction. Women’s rights, democracy, and stability cannot be restored without these two crucial ingredients.”
Smeal continued: “Afghan women cannot wait any longer. The threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Sima Samar; the uprising of police against the appointed Interior Minister; violence against women in the Northern provinces; and the use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school in Kandahar show the need for security is desperate. How can we not expand peacekeeping forces under these current circumstances?”
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Afghan Interim Administration have repeatedly and urgently requested the expansion of peace troops beyond Kabul. In March, April, and again in May, the Feminist Majority Foundation and other major U.S. women’s organizations issued strong pleas to the Bush Administration for immediate expansion of peace troops. In response to the recent gang rape of an aid worker and violent interference with humanitarian aid delivery, 68 international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) recently joined the United Nations in a plea to the US to expand peacekeeping troops and ensure security throughout the country.
For more information on the Feminist Majority’s Help Afghan Women Campaign or to schedule interviews, contact Emilie Karrick at 703-522-2214 or [email protected]###