Desperate plea for female Afghan Olympians to be evacuated 'before it's too late'

·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
Samira Ashgari from Afghanistan, new member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), talks to journalists at the end of the 133rd IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
Samira Ashgari has urged the US to help evecuate female Afghan athletes. (Reuters)

A member of Afghanistan's International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pleaded for help to evacuate female Afghan Olympians “before it’s too late”.

Samira Asghari, a former captain of Afghanistan’s national basketball team, said she feared for the safety of the athletes after the Taliban took control of the country.

In a tweet that has now been deleted, the 27-year-old wrote: "Afghanistan national female athletes, coaches and their entourage need your help, we must get them out of Taliban's hands…

“Please do something before it is too late.”

Asghari tagged the US basketball federation, US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and US ambassador to Afghanistan in her tweet.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 30: Kimia Yousofi of Team Afghanistan reacts after her performance during the Women's 100 meter preliminary round on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Kimia Yousofi of Team Afghanistan after her performance during the Women's 100 meter preliminary round on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Getty)

Her tweet comes after the first female athletes to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympic Games will now not be able to attend after being unable to leave the country in time due to the unrest in the country.

The Afghanistan Paralympic Committee's London-based Chef de Mission Arian Sadiqi said: ”Unfortunately due to the current upheaval going on in Afghanistan the team could not leave Kabul in time.”

Former Afghan women's soccer captain Khalida Popal, who is based in Copenhagen, has also urged players to delete social media, erase public identities and burn their kits for their own safety now that the country is once again under Taliban rule.

Watch: Plane carrying Afghan evacuees arrives at Birmingham airport

The Taliban have said they will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law, but video footage from Kabul has showed images of women being painted over.

The terrorist organisation also previously stopped women from working during their 1996-2001 rule, with girls forbidden from attending schools and women only allowed out when accompanied by a male relative, while also being made to wear burqas.

On Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that while women’s rights were “very important” and would be respected, this would be “within the framework of Sharia”.

But Meetra Qutb, a researcher who left Afghanistan four years ago, said that the past few days in Afghanistan “have been very critical and concerning for women in the country”.

She said: “Many fear history will repeat itself with a compromise on their rights and are very scared that a dark future lies ahead.

“Between 1996 and 2001 women were not allowed to go to school, work outside or even leave the house without a man.

“If a woman did not cover her face she would be lashed in the street; if she was accused of adultery or was even seen talking to a man who is a stranger, she could be stoned or lashed for all to see.

“This is deeply rooted in the ideology of the Taliban.”

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN-AUGUST 17: Thousands of Afghans rush to the Kabul International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 17, 2021. (Photo by Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Thousands of Afghans rush to the Kabul International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital. (Getty)

Qutb said she has seen signs since Sunday that this could re-emerge, such as ads of women in dresses being painted over and bosses dismissing female employees.

Efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan this week have seen chaotic scenes unfold, with video footage showing hundreds of Afghans attempting to board planes leaving the country.

Shocking footage showed people falling from planes after attempting to cling on for take off.

Kitty Chevallier, a charity worker from Basingstoke, Hampshire, left Kabul via a UK evacuation flight on Monday morning, said “hundreds” of Afghan families crowded runways in an attempt to get out of the country.

Watch: Hundreds crowd airport barriers amid sporadic gunfire

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