End of Doha Meeting: Women Demand an End to Opportunities for Taliban

By: Amin Kawa

The conclusion of the Doha Meeting has sparked widespread protests and reactions among Afghan citizens. According to the United Nations Secretary-General, the participants have agreed on a coordinated approach towards Afghanistan, recognizing the interlinked issues of terrorist groups, the lack of a comprehensive government, worsening women’s situation, and drug trafficking. The UN Secretary-General highlighted that participating countries have different priorities regarding Afghanistan but stressed the need for a coordinated approach towards the country. To stabilize Afghanistan and address human rights concerns, the UN Secretary-General also stressed the importance of developing a strategy for engaging with the Taliban. Despite this, citizens have called for sanctions against the Doha Meeting, with civil activists and women demanding an end to Taliban opportunities. They are also urging global citizens to mobilize against the Taliban.

Representatives from around 25 countries and international organizations gathered in Doha, Qatar for a two-day United Nations meeting on Afghan affairs to prioritize a coordinated approach to Afghanistan. The meeting was held behind closed doors and without the presence of Afghanistan’s involved parties. Meanwhile, women, girls, and many Afghan citizens around the world have been protesting against what they see as the Taliban’s whitewashing for a week. On the last day of the meeting, civil activists, human rights defenders, and women’s rights advocates launched the “No to the Taliban” movement on social media platforms, particularly on Twitter, calling for a stop to the Taliban’s opportunity-making meetings.

What does the “No to Taliban” Movement mean?
A group of women and men who see themselves as representatives of the Afghan people’s general demands and aspirations have created the “No to the Taliban” movement. They aim to oppose the Taliban and the double standards of the international community. Afghan civil activists and women’s rights defenders have launched hashtags such as “#DoNotRecognizeTaliban” and “#NoToTaliban” to resist and protest against the “malicious and double standard” decisions of the world. They believe that the United Nations and other countries are providing opportunities to legitimize the Taliban. A member of the movement, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated that the goal is to mobilize people from all ethnicities against the world’s decisions regarding the Taliban. They want to protest the United Nations and all countries involved in the Afghan issue who support the Taliban. The second goal is to react and protest against the United States of America and some European countries whose policies have often been unacceptable.

According to a female protester, “Our voices are not being heard, and decisions are being made to legitimize the Taliban. We want to raise awareness, especially among citizens of other countries, about the attitudes of policymakers toward the current situation in Afghanistan. They should be compelled to support these movements and the demands of the Afghan people.”

The members of this movement state that the “#NoToTaliban” movement is self-motivated, independent, and represents the people of Afghanistan. No individual, institution, or group inside or outside of Afghanistan can claim leadership of this movement. Many women protesting, human rights activists, and civil society members have shared the “#DoNotRecognizeTaliban” hashtag in this virtual protest.

What are the protesters saying?
The protesters are urging for the decisions made in the Doha Meeting to be boycotted. They state, “The Taliban is a terrorist and fascist group that does not represent the people of Afghanistan. We, the people of Afghanistan, have a voice, and no one in the Doha Meeting can speak for us or about us. We boycott the Doha Meeting and reject the recognition of the Taliban, Talibanism, and those who support the Taliban. Do not recognize the Taliban.”

Protesters have shared videos on social media, saying, “Interacting with the Taliban means interacting with terrorism. The people of Afghanistan do not accept the Taliban.” They have also widely shared slogans with the hashtag #DoNotRecognizeTaliban, such as “We want a terrorism-free world. Do not export terrorism to us. We say no to the Taliban,” “The Taliban is inherently dangerous to the world and modern values. We do not want anti-human thinking and destructive worldviews,” “The Doha Meeting provides an opportunity for the Taliban. We do not believe in the sincerity of the Doha Meetings,” and “Seeking temporary interests with the Taliban supports extremism. We do not support extremism, and we do not compromise.”

The protesters contend that any interaction and dialogue that excludes the Afghan people, particularly women, is unacceptable worldwide. They demand a system based on the people’s will and stress that the Taliban do not subscribe to such a system. They caution against the world’s reinforcement of international terrorism for transient gains.

What did the UN Secretary-General say in the press conference at the end of the Meeting?
During a press conference on Tuesday, May 2, UN Secretary-General António Guterres shared the topics discussed at the Doha Meeting with attending journalists. Guterres stated that participants had a “frank” exchange of views.

The UN Secretary-General stressed that the meeting aimed to promote the objectives of UN Security Council Resolution 2681. He noted, “We had a frank discussion, and I am glad that we held this meeting in conjunction with the Security Council resolution that called for meaningful and secure participation of women and girls in Afghanistan. We discussed the implications of this resolution during our meeting.”

In response to the widespread protests of Afghan citizens, Mr. Guterres stated that the recognition of the Taliban was not discussed in the meeting. He described the purpose of the Doha Meeting as unifying the global approach towards Afghanistan. The UN Secretary-General added in his press conference that the meeting was about aligning the global approach on Afghanistan, not about recognizing the Taliban.

During the press conference, the Secretary-General of the United Nations stressed the need for cooperation among countries when it comes to Afghanistan. He acknowledged the limitations and called for an “engagement strategy” towards the country. He also stated that “it is in everyone’s interest to cooperate in Afghanistan. All participants agreed that we need an engagement strategy to stabilize Afghanistan and address the serious concerns we have about this country. Participants expressed their concerns about the stability of Afghanistan.”

During the press conference, Mr. Guterres stated that the significant presence of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan poses a serious threat not only to Afghanistan but also to the entire region. He also pointed out that the lack of inclusivity, particularly in the areas of women’s rights and drug trafficking, exacerbates the situation and its destructive consequences.

During the two-day talks in Doha, Mr. Guterres discussed the diverse priorities of the participating countries and emphasized that the main issue is not having different priorities, but rather achieving a collective approach. In the press conference, he stated, “The participants may have different priorities for issues such as women’s rights, fighting terrorism, and establishing a comprehensive structure, but there is a general understanding that these issues are interconnected. The goal is not to ignore one priority in favor of another, but to reach a collective approach.”

The UN Secretary-General emphasized the importance of interaction to achieve their goal, adding that many have called for this interaction to be based on past lessons. He stated, “To achieve our goal, we cannot avoid interaction. The United Nations will utilize its resources to achieve a collective approach.”

Mr. Guterres characterized UN Security Council Resolution 2681 as a comprehensive approach and expressed his hope that it could guide the organization. He described the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as complex, difficult, and daunting. In his concluding speech at the Doha Meeting on Afghanistan, he stated, “Assessing the complexity and intricacy of the situation in Afghanistan is difficult. This is the most complex humanitarian crisis the world has seen. Ninety percent of the population lives in poverty, 28 million people need humanitarian assistance to survive, 6 million are facing near-famine conditions, and financial aid is being undermined.”

The United Nations Secretary-General has criticized the ban on women working for UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, stating, “It is unacceptable to ban women from working for the UN and NGOs. We are witnessing an attack on women’s rights, and we must raise our voices. Urgent and immediate assistance is required to address this problem in Afghanistan, by international law and the principle of non-discrimination, which is at the core of the United Nations. We stand with Afghanistan, we have fulfilled our duty, and we want to continue to do so.”

The UN Secretary-General was asked if he would like to meet with Taliban officials. He replied that he would meet with them when the appropriate moment arrives, but added that “it is not suitable today.”

As this Meeting comes to a close, no serious and clear decision has been made regarding Afghanistan. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has hinted that the organization will stand with the people of Afghanistan, but has not addressed the warning issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Office. The UNAMA has set a deadline of five months from the beginning of this year for the Taliban.

Previously, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) warned that if the Taliban did not reverse their decision to ban women’s work in the organization, the United Nations would face a difficult decision. The organization has stated that it must choose between staying and upholding its principles. It remains unclear whether the Taliban will comply with UNAMA’s demands.

In the past two years, the Taliban have not fulfilled the demands of the international community. These demands include establishing an inclusive government, respecting human rights, particularly women’s rights, and reopening educational and academic institutions for women. Instead, the Taliban have carried out targeted killings, mass killings, and field courts.