Is Salima Mazari OK? Female Afghan governor who took up arms against Taliban captured

Afghanistan TV journalist Nadia Momand tweeted that Mazari had been reportedly captured by the Taliban, and called for her release


                            Is Salima Mazari OK? Female Afghan governor who took up arms against Taliban captured
Salima Mazari has reportedly been taken into custody by the Taliban (Twitter)

Taliban fighters have reportedly taken Salima Mazari, one of the only three women governors of Afghanistan, into their custody, according to local reports. Mazari, a Hazara, was the governor of the Chahar Kint district in the Balkh province.

Mazari, as per an NPR report, has been on a mission since 2019 to recruit locals to protect the district from the Taliban. Before the Taliban takeover, half of the district Mazari governs was already under their control. "Taliban are exactly the ones who trample human rights," Mazari told AFP on August 6. 

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Charyar,70, from the Balkh province sits alongside his family at a makeshift IDP camp in Share-e-Naw park to various mosques and schools on August 12, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. People displaced by the Taliban advancing are flooding into the Kabul capital to escape the Taliban takeover of their provinces. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

As per the report, Mazari was raised as a refugee in Iran. She reportedly belongs to the Hazara community - most of whom are Shia Muslims. She returned to Afghanistan to serve her country and recruited 600 locals, including farmers, shepherds, and laborers, in her resistance. "Our people didn't have guns but they went and sold their cows, sheep, and even their land, to buy weapons," Mazari said. "They are on the front line every day and night without getting any kind of credit or salary."

Is Salima Mazari okay?

It is unclear where or when Mazari was captured. While many online are calling for her release, her safety is definitely in question. Mazari herself had spoken about it prior to her being taken into custody. Mazari had said that the Taliban would never tolerate a woman in such a leadership position if they returned to power.

"There will be no place for women," said Mazari on August 14 in an interview with the Associated Press. "In the provinces controlled by the Taliban, no women exist there anymore, not even in the cities. They are all imprisoned in their homes."

As per the Associated Press report, the Taliban appointed hard-line cleric Mujeeb Rahman Ansari as women’s affairs minister in Herat. A prominent women’s activist from the city who did not want to be identified because she fears for her safety described Ansari as being “strongly against women’s rights.” He rose to prominence about 2015 and became infamous for dozens of billboards he installed in Herat that told women to wear Islamic hijab and demonized those who would promote women’s rights.

Displaced Afghans look through a fence at a makeshift IDP camp in Share-e-Naw park to various mosques and schools on August 12, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. People displaced by the Taliban advancing are flooding into the Kabul capital to escape the Taliban takeover of their provinces. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

On August 14, Zarifa Ghafari, Afghanistan's first female mayor, had told UK media outlet iNews that she was just waiting for the Taliban to find her. "I'm sitting here waiting for them to come," she said. "There is no one to help me or my family. I'm just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me. I can't leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?"

On Twitter, the hashtag #FreeSalima has been trending. Afghanistan TV journalist Nadia Momand tweeted on Wednesday, August 18, that Mazari had been reportedly captured by the Taliban, and called for her release. “Know her name #SalimaMazari,” she wrote. “When many Afghan political leaders fled, Salima stayed to fight. As one of the first female district Governors in Afghanistan, she took on the Taliban & resisted until the end. She has reportedly been captured. Pressure to free her!! #FreeSalima.”

Another tweet read, “Salima Mazari, one of the first woman governors of Afghanistan, who fiercely resisted the Taliban, was captured after the surrender of Balkh province, Chahar Kent district. When many Afghan leaders fled, #SalimaMazari stayed on. #FreeSalima.” One person tweeted, “A symbol of resistance and exceptional resolve and courage. The Iron Lady of #AFG. A true hero! Never forget those who betrayed us. But also NEVER forget who fought for us till the end. #FreeSalima.”



 



 



 

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