Afghan lawyer honored with Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award

11/30/2021 07:48 PM
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Legislative speaker and TFD Chairman You Si-kun announces the recipient of the 2021 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 30, 2021
Legislative speaker and TFD Chairman You Si-kun announces the recipient of the 2021 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 30, 2021

Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) has named Afghan human rights lawyer and feminist Humaira Rasuli as the recipient of the 2021 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Legislative speaker and TFD Chairman You Si-kun (游錫堃) announced that the award would be given to Rasuli in recognition of her contributions and endeavors to promote Afghan women's rights.

It is hoped that the award will "further inspire the world to pay closer attention to human rights in Afghanistan, especially women's rights" and "encourage human rights defenders and those who have been deprived of human rights," he added.

National Democratic Institute President Derek Mitchell, who is a member of the award's final review panel, described the honoring of Rasuli through this year's award as "timely" given the recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

He was referring to the withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan, a move that ended the two-decade U.S. military presence and led to the return to power of the Taliban in the country.

"Humaira's credentials are impeccable and worthy of TFD's honor," Mitchell said. "Recognizing her will send an important signal to women throughout Asia."

The Washington D.C.-headquartered National Democratic Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit American NGO that works with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

According to the TFD, Rasuli has been actively involved in social activism and the promotion of women's rights at a young age and thorough her years of work, "Afghan women have gradually been able to receive justice from judicial procedures."

As the co-founder and executive director of the Women for Justice Organization, Rasuli has led lawyers, gender experts and activists in efforts to increase women's access to justice, uphold the rule of law in Afghanistan, and investigate some of the most emblematic sex crime cases in the country over the years, the TFD said in its statement.

She also previously served as director of Medica Afghanista, another organization that provides psychosocial counseling and legal support to female survivors of sexual violence.

However, in an interview with the European public broadcaster, Arte, aired in September, Rasuli revealed that she has relocated to the U.S. following the U.S. military pull-out from Afghanistan.

American news outlet Vox also reported in late October that Rasuli was among the 12,000 evacuees from Afghanistan at Fort McCoy, an army base in Wisconsin, awaiting relocation.

The TFD on Tuesday declined to confirm Rasuli's current whereabouts, but said she would deliver her acceptance speech in a pre-recorded video that would be published on its website on Dec. 10.

The foundation said it would not host a physical award ceremony this year due to COVID-19.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Teng Pei-ju)

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