Women’s rights activist Manizha Sediqi faces ‘uncertain future’ in Taliban custody

Manizha Sediqi, a women’s rights activist, has been in Taliban detention for nearly five months without legal representation, sources familiar with the situation report. Sediqi was detained on Oct. 9 last year in Kabul’s Karta-e Naw area, allegedly for burning a photo of Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s leader.

Sources close to Sediqi’s family expressed concern about her well-being, noting that the Taliban has not provided any information on her potential release. Hadia Sahib Zada, another women’s rights activist, emphasized that Sediqi is being denied her rights as a prisoner, including access to a lawyer, and called for her immediate release. “Sediqi has been subjected to torture and beatings in detention without committing any crime,” Sahib Zada claimed.

Additionally, the Taliban reportedly arrested and then released Khatira Rasikh, another women’s rights activist, after 24 hours in custody. Prior to Rasikh’s detention, Taliban intelligence allegedly arrested her father-in-law, brothers-in-law, and husband, forcing her husband to surrender her to secure their release.

The Taliban has faced criticism for detaining multiple women’s rights activists and protestors who oppose their policies towards women. Heather Barr, Associate Director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, urged the international community to hold the Taliban accountable for their actions, especially against women and girls.

Freedom Now, a human rights group, has also called for Sediqi’s immediate release, citing concerns about mistreatment and torture in Taliban custody.