(New York) – Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, issued the following comments in response to the assassination of Nadia Sidiqi, the acting Director of the Ministry of Women's Affairs department in the eastern province of Laghman, Afghanistan:
“The cold-blooded assassination of Nadia Sidiqi underscores the deadly consequences that lie in store for courageous women standing up for basic rights in Afghanistan,” said Nossel. “They take their lives in their hands by insisting on equal opportunity and rights for everyone, including the right to go to school. The death of Nadia Sidiq is part of a terrorizing pattern of violence against women and the security forces in Afghanistan have failed once again to protect female human rights defenders. I urge the U.S. Congress to stand up for women’s rights in Afghanistan by passing the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act.
The tragic and outrageous killing of Nadia Sidiqi – and the death of her predecessor in a bombing - shows the dastardly determination of rights opponents to hunt down those that defy them. We must stand with these brave women and help to ensure that the United States does its part to protect and advance human rights for Afghan women and girls."
The Senate last week passed the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act, co-authored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), as part of a defense bill.
One key provision will require the U.S. Defense Secretary to report to the American people semi-annually on the treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan. Also, the bill will support efforts to expand the number of women in the Afghan national police and the army (currently women make up less than .2 percent of the army). In addition, the legislation will provide training for these security forces to reduce sexual violence and support equal treatment for women.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.