Statement by Shaheen on the grim first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

August 15, 2022

(Washington, DC) – US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a prominent member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committeesissued the following statement today on the one year anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

“Today marks a dark day in world history. Since the Taliban took power a year ago, we have witnessed endemic violence, a massive rollback of the human rights of women and girls and a targeted persecution of vulnerable groups, such as Afghans who have assisted the U.S. mission for the past two decades. For years, I have sounded the alarm about the need to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls to participate to society, to enjoy equal access to education and to determine their own future.Sadly, the strides made over decades to secure women’s basic freedoms are now being systematically erased by the violent Taliban regime. global community must hold the Taliban accountable for their violence and galvanize coordinated international pressure to force the Taliban to change course,” Shaheen said.

She continued: “Furthermore, the United States and our allies cannot turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of Afghan special immigrant visa applicants who remain in Afghanistan, targeted by the Taliban for aiding the U.S. mission. These brave Afghans stood with our soldiers on the battlefield, putting their lives on the line to fight for a better future for their country. With each passing day, they live under the threat of retaliation from the Taliban while navigating a complex SIV application process. We cannot abandon them – although our military mission is over, our humanitarian obligation continues.

“I welcome recent actions by the Biden administration that have streamlined the SIV program and reduced the administrative burden for applicants. It is also important that Temporary Protected Status has now been extended to Afghans living in the WE so that they are not deported to dangerous and violent conditions. We must continue to review the political and strategic decisions that led us to the longest war in US history to ensure we don’t repeat those mistakes,” he added. Shaheen concluded. “The situation on the ground in Afghanistan remains dire, and I will continue to assist vulnerable Afghans and ensure that Afghanistan remains a top US foreign policy priority.”

Shaheen has has long championed the rights of Afghan women and girls and has led the efforts of the Senate to strengthen congressional support for human rights around the world. Shaheen has fought repeatedly to make the inclusion of Afghan women in negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government a priority of US foreign policy. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Act, which was enacted in 2017 and guarantees the leadership role of women in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. She has also led bipartisan efforts to overcome the unique barriers young girls in developing countries face in accessing a comprehensive education. Shaheen previously led a group of senators in damn the Taliban’s decision to renege on their promise to open schools for Afghan girls beyond grade six, and led a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging his administration to take action. In April she led a bipartisan delegation visit with Senator Ernst and Senator Susan Collins at the UN to discuss how the United States and the international community can best support women and girls in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Shaheen and Ernst sent a letter with Senators Bob Menendez and Jim Risch at the United Nations, urging him to take action to hold the Taliban accountable for their continued violations of the human rights of Afghan women and girls. Earlier this month, Shaheen was part of a bipartisan group, including US Senators Joni Ernst, Dianne Feinstein and Tammy Baldwin, who were informed by the representatives of the US State Department and USAID on the status of Afghan women and girls nearly a year after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Senator Shaheen historically associated with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on efforts to protect Afghans who have risked their lives to support U.S. diplomatic efforts overseas by bolstering the Afghan SIV program. She has bipartisan conduit efforts in Congress to reauthorize other Afghan SIVs. Additionally, Senator Shaheen supported legislation to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission to examine all aspects of the war in Afghanistan, including the political and strategic decisions that transformed a focused military mission into a broad nation-building campaign that became the longest war in the history of the United States.

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