On the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the establishment of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

Letter to the Eighteen Human Rights Activists, 

on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the establishment of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

June 5, 2020 - Kabul

That day, birds from all over the world came together and made a common wish: "We wish we had a guide to help us out of the uncertainty”. The savior is behind the mountains, said the clever hoppoe. His name is Simurgh (a mythical bird). Simurgh is resting in the mountain of dignity. We have to reach out to him, but there's a hazardous way between us; a long way with deep seas and mountains that are strenuous to cross . A group of birds set forth on an adventurous journey hoping to find Simurgh. Seven valleys ahead; on the way, several birds went missing, some of them drowned, some died in mountains out of thirst, some burned up by the heat of the sun and some were ravaged by wild animals. Eventually, thirty tired and exhausted birds reached their destination. After a deep reflection, they realised that they were the Simurgh (30 birds).

The story of Simurgh is mentioned in Sheikh Attar's Mantiq al-Tayr, a story that has been repeated over the years in our collective memory  to remind us that if we get tired of violence, oppression and aggression of others, and begin looking for a savior, we have to look in the mirror, and return to ourselves.

AIHRC celebrates its 18th anniversary on Jun 5, 2020. On this auspicious occasion, and pursuing Mantiq al-Tayr’s guidance, we turned to ourselves; we met a woman in Kabul who set up a Maternity camp to save the lives of drug users. We met a man in Paktika who walks 24 kilometers every day to take his daughters to school, and an old man in Sar-e-Pul who has given 2,000 square meters of his land to the Ministry of Education to build a school for the children. Couples who spent their marriage funds on charity work to help their fellow citizens, or dozens of other examples of activities that help people attain their basic rights and freedoms.

AIHRC believes that the struggle of Afghans themselves is essential to the development of democratic processes and promotion of human rights in Afghanistan. Freedom is a capacity to be nurtured, and we have no better way to nurture this capacity than to turn to local sheroes, heroes and  forces to promote literacy, strengthen democratic structures, mechanisms and human rights values within the country. During the past decades or years, you, as one of these heroes have made inexhaustible efforts in different social contexts to ensure human rights of citizens, without any expectations or reward. Your life story illustrates  that efforts for ensuring human rights are taking place across the country. The struggle  for human rights has allies in all corners of Afghanistan.

Human rights are not just few words enshrined in international conventions; the struggle for human rights are illustrated in the actions of someone like Mojtaba Husaini in Balkh province who requested people to save the cost of shoe polish in a box to buy a storybook for children. Or it is derived from the work of a young couple who paid the savings for their marriage to create a library that hundreds of teens can benefit from, or the books that the “Cradle Group” writes for children and the movies that the “Charmaghz” mobile library makes available to children.

Once the seeds of freedom are sown in the minds of youth with the words in these books, it takes its roots in their life, it grows, and many years later it turns into an idea that can inspire many others. This is where freedom begins. This letter is addressed to all those who are committed to and fighting for the fundamental human rights and freedom of people of this country; those who, in every corner of the country, try to promote respect for human dignity without discrimination or prejudice, anyone who takes a step towards ensuring of the right to life and security of human beings, to anyone who has worked to enhance knowledge and help citizens gain access to education. This letter is addressed to all those who are committed to freedom and equality in this country.

On its 18th anniversary, AIHRC wants to thank you for your tireless efforts for upholding human rights and freedoms in Afghanistan. You have kept alive the promise and hope for the human rights struggles of tomorrow. We can achieve a sustainable peace with optimism, perseverance solidarity.

 Hoping for freedom, justice and long-lasting peace.

Shaharzad Akbar

Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission


Audiences of the letter:

  1. Mujtaba Husaini
  2. Abdurrahman Bashardoost
  3. Laila Haidari
  4. Meya Khan
  5. Moqadesa Ahmadzai
  6. Sakhidad
  7. Mohammad Edris Seyawash
  8. Andarsing Soni
  9. Zainab Afghan
  10. Maryam Durani
  11. Momena and Husina
  12. Parwin Azimi
  13. Abdul Ali Barakzai
  14. Khalida Popalzai
  15. Zahir Ahmad Zendani
  16. Burhanoddin Sirat
  17. Zabih Medi
  18. Robotics team