Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai: ‘I Fear For My Afghan Sisters’

In this file photo taken on January 25, 2018 Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai gesturing during a session at the Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland. PHOTO: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai on Tuesday wrote “I fear for my Afghan sisters” in an op-ed published in The New York Times in the wake of the Taliban’s stunning takeover.

“We will have time to debate what went wrong in the war in Afghanistan, but in this critical moment we must listen to the voices of Afghan women and girls. They are asking for protection, for education, for the freedom and the future they were promised,” Yousafzai, 24, wrote.

“We cannot continue to fail them. We have no time to spare.”

Yousafzai, long an advocate for girls’ education, survived a Pakistani Taliban assassination attempt when she was just 15 years old when the militants shot her in the head in rural northwest Pakistan.

READ ALSO: US Hopes Taliban Will ‘Respect Rights Of’ Afghans

Since then the Oxford graduate has become a global figure promoting education for girls.

The Taliban took effective control of Afghanistan on Sunday when president Ashraf Ghani fled and the insurgents walked into Kabul with no opposition.

It capped a staggeringly fast rout of the country’s major cities in just 10 days, following two decades of war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

The Taliban led a pariah regime from 1996 to 2001, infamous for a brutal rule in which girls could not go to school, women were barred from working in jobs that would put them in contact with men, and people were stoned to death.

The recent takeover has triggered fears of renewed oppression, in particular towards women and girls.

“I cannot help but be grateful for my life now,” wrote Yousafzai.

“After graduating from college last year and starting to carve out my own career path, I cannot imagine losing it all — going back to a life defined for me by men with guns,” she continued.

“Afghan girls and young women are once again where I have been — in despair over the thought that they might never be allowed to see a classroom or hold a book again.”

On Tuesday a Taliban spokesman indicated the militants would not make the full burqa — a one-piece overgarment that covers the entire head and body — compulsory, and sought to dismiss concerns that women would be barred from education.

Women “can get education from primary to higher education — that means university. We have announced this policy at international conferences, the Moscow conference and here at the Doha conference (on Afghanistan),” Suhail Shaheen said.

But Yousafzai raised skepticism of that vow.

“Given the Taliban’s history of  violently suppressing women’s rights, Afghan women’s fears are real,” she wrote.

“Already, we are  hearing reports of female students being turned away from their universities, female workers from their offices.”

 

AFP

Malala Leaves Pakistan After Emotional Visit

FILE PHOTO  Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai gesturing during a session at the Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland. PHOTO: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai Monday left for Britain after an emotional four-day visit to Pakistan, officials said.

Malala made a surprise return visit to Pakistan last week more than five years after she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for advocating girls’ education.

“Malala Yousafzai along with her family left Islamabad,” a government official told AFP.

An airport official confirmed her departure.

During a reception at the Prime Minister’s Office last week, she tearfully said during a televised speech that it was “a dream” to finally return home.

“Always it has been my dream that I should go to Pakistan… in peace and without any fear.

“And I think that it’s my old home again … so it is actually happening, and I am grateful to all of you.”

Malala briefly visited her native Swat valley over the weekend during her first trip back to the once militant-infested region where she was targeted.

“I left Swat with my eyes closed and now I am back with my eyes open,” she said, referring to how she was airlifted out in a coma after the attack in 2012.

“I am extremely delighted. My dream has come true. Peace has returned to Swat because of the invaluable sacrifices rendered by my brothers and sisters,” she said at a school outside Mingora, the district’s main town, where she was escorted by the Pakistani military.

The trip was a highly symbolic moment for Pakistan, which regularly touts Swat as a success story in its long battle with extremism as it defends itself against accusations by the US and others that its northwest remains a safe haven for militancy.

Since leaving Pakistan, the 20-year-old Malala has become a global symbol for human rights and a vocal campaigner for girls’ education.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she has continued her campaigning while pursuing her studies at Oxford University.

Tearful Malala Makes First Trip To Pakistan Since Taliban Attack

Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan Thursday, saying tearfully that it was “a dream” to come home for the first time since she was airlifted to Britain after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman more than five years ago.

The 20-year-old was overcome with emotion as she made a televised speech from the Prime Minister’s House in Islamabad, wiping away tears as she spoke of the beauty of her native Swat valley.

“Always it has been my dream that I should go to Pakistan and there, in peace and without any fear, I can move on streets, I can meet people, I can talk to people.

“And I think that it’s my old home again … so it is actually happening, and I am grateful to all of you.”

She had arrived unannounced with her parents under tight security overnight. Pakistanis awakening to the news she was back in the country flooded social media with messages of welcome, with many hailing her bravery — but others accusing her of a conspiracy to foment dissent.

Malala is widely respected internationally as a global icon for girls’ education, but opinion is divided in Pakistan, where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.

Residents of Swat said they were happy to see her return.

“I had not imagined that she would ever come (back),” Rida Siyal, a student who said she had been a “good friend” of Malala’s before the shooting, told AFP.

“(She) defeated the dark force of fear. We are delighted to see her back,” she said.

Ahmad Shah, who said he was a friend of Malala’s father, called her a “symbol of courage”, adding: “She should have returned home much earlier”.

Malala became a global symbol for human rights after a gunman boarded her school bus in Swat on October 9, 2012, asked “Who is Malala?” and shot her.

She was treated for her injuries in the British city of Birmingham, where she also completed her schooling.

The youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she has continued to be a vocal advocate for girls’ education while pursuing her studies at Oxford University.

 ‘Malala is not your enemy’

Malala met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi earlier Thursday and later took questions from an audience.

“We have amazing women,” she told them in comments broadcast on state television, pushing for more education and critical thinking. She also called on Pakistanis to come together, stressing unity for the betterment of the country.

But among the messages of welcome are pockets of intense criticism from some Pakistanis, including hardline Islamists as well as members of the conservative middle class who support education for girls but object to airing the country’s problems abroad.

One leading Pakistani journalist, Hamid Mir, issued a plea for restraint when talking about her visit, warning that negative reactions “will damage Pakistan’s image”.

Other Pakistanis echoed his concerns on social media.

“Dear Pakistanis! Malala is not your enemy. Your enemies were those monsters who shot her point blank on her way to school,” wrote Twitter user Shahira Lashari.

Her schedule for the four-day trip is being closely guarded.

“She will be meeting several people here but her itinerary is not being disclosed due to security reasons,” foreign office spokesman Muhammad Faisal told AFP.

Malala began her campaign aged just 11, when she started writing a blog — under a pseudonym — for the BBC’s Urdu service in 2009 about life under the Taliban in Swat, where they were banning girls’ education.

In 2007 the Islamist militants had taken over the area, which Malala affectionately called “My Swat”, and imposed a brutal, bloody rule.

Opponents were murdered, people were publicly flogged for supposed breaches of sharia law, women were banned from going to market, and girls were stopped from going to school.

But it was only after the shooting, and a subsequent near-miraculous recovery, that she became a truly global figure.

During a recent appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the feminist campaigner urged women to act without waiting for men.

“We’re going to stand up for ourselves, we’re going to raise our voices and we’re going to change the world,” she said.

As for the militants who attacked her: the man suspected of actually firing the gun at Malala, named by officials as Ataullah Khan, has long been believed to be on the run in Afghanistan, along with Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who ordered the attack.

In 2015 it was reported that eight of 10 men who had been convicted over the attack had actually been cleared.

AFP

PHOTOS: Osinbajo Meets With Malala Yousafzai

Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Monday received the founder of the Malala Fund and girls education activist, Malala Yousafzai in Abuja.

The youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate met with the Acting President at the State House in Abuja as part of activities to mark her visit to Nigeria, the second in three years.

See photos below:

Malala Asks FG To Declare State Of Emergency On Education

Malala Asks FG To Declare State Of Emergency On Education

Malala Asks FG To Declare State Of Emergency On Education

Founder of the Malala Fund and girls education activist, Malala Yousafzai has asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector.

She made the call on Monday after a closed door meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House as part of activities to mark her visit to Nigeria, the second in three years.

READ ALSOMalala Yousafzai Visits Osinbajo

Malala, who led a delegation of seven, said the education of girls and boys formed the major highlights of her meeting with the Acting President.

The meeting was attended by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, other girl rights activists as well as some members of the Federal Executive Council.

She urged state and local governments to pay more attention to the goal which she described as fundamental and called for transparency in the investment towards education as well as the implementation of the Child Rights Act.

She applauded the government’s efforts in the safe return of the over 100 Chibok schoolgirls and further expressed hope that more would be released to end the deprivation of education among the girl child in the country.

 

Malala last visited Nigeria in 2014 shortly Boko Haram terrorists abducted some schoolgirls in Chibok community of Borno State when she joined hundreds of people and groups to condemn the act.

She had pressured the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure the safe return of the girls.

She had also called on the international community to assist Nigeria and Africa in ensuring that schoolchildren get quality education and urged governments across the continent to increase funding for education.

She had announced a donation of $200,000 from her foundation to support education in Nigeria.

In 2014, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 alongside Kailash Satyarthi for her fight for the right of girls to education.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee noted that despite her youth, Malala fought for the right of girls to education for several years and has shown by example that children and young people can also contribute to improving their own situations.

They added that she fought under the most dangerous circumstances and has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education through her heroic struggle.

Malala Yousafzai Visits Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday received the founder of the Malala Fund and girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafzai at the Presidential Villa.

Malala, the Pakistani school girl who survived an attack by the Taliban, met with the Acting President at the State House in Abuja as part of activities to mark her visit to Nigeria, the second in three years.

READ ALSO: Malala Asks FG To Declare State Of Emergency On Education

Leading a delegation of seven, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate reiterated her goal to an end to the deprivation of education among the girl child.

The meeting attended by Malala’s father and other girl rights activists commenced at about 6:00 PM behind closed doors.

Malala, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived an attack by the Taliban, Malala last visited Nigeria in 2014 shortly Boko Haram terrorists abducted some schoolgirls in Chibok community of Borno State.

She had announced a donation of $200,000 from her foundation to support education in the country and also called on the international community to assist Nigeria and Africa in ensuring that schoolchildren get quality education.

In 2014, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 alongside Kailash Satyarthi for her fight for the right of girls to education.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee noted that despite her youth, Malala fought for the right of girls to education for several years and has shown by example that children and young people can also contribute to improving their own situations.

They added that she fought under the most dangerous circumstances and has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education through her heroic struggle.

 

Malala Condemns Donald Trump Call For Muslim Ban In US

Malala YousafzaiMalala Yousafzai has condemned Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

The Nobel Prize winner said that Trump’s comments were “full of hatred” and that blaming Muslims for terrorism would only “radicalise more terrorists”.

Malala was speaking at an event to mark one year since a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan left more than 140 people, mostly children, dead.

Pakistan’s President, Prime Minister and Chief of Army were among several top leaders who attended a commemoration ceremony at the Army Public School, where the massacre happened.

Malala also reiterated her call for quality education around the world to “defeat the mindset of terrorism mentality and of hatred” that led to events such as the Peshawar attack.

Other speakers at the event include survivors of the attack, including a 16-year-old, who lost his younger brother, and a 13-year-old who was paralysed from the waist down from gunshot wounds.

Schools and colleges in some provinces in Pakistan were closed on Wednesday to mark the one year anniversary.
In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban.

Eight Malala Failed Assassination Suspects ‘Secretly Acquitted’

malalaReports from Pakistan indicate that eight of the 10 men reportedly jailed for the attempted assassination of Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, were set free.

In April, officials in Pakistan said that 10 Taliban fighters had been found guilty and received 25-year sentences.

The BBC reports that only two of the men who stood trial were convicted.

The secrecy surrounding the trial, which was held behind closed doors, raised suspicions over its validity.

A spokesman for the Pakistani High Commission in London, Muneer Ahmed, says the eight men were acquitted because of a lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, Saleem Marwat, the district Police Chief in Swat, Pakistan separately confirmed that only two men had been convicted.

Mr Ahmed claimed that the original court judgement made it clear that only two men had been convicted, blaming the confusion on misreporting.

Chibok Girls Remembered One Year After Abduction

Chibok GirlsEvents are being held globally to mark one year since more than 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria’s north-east region.

Starting from Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, a procession is to be held with 219 girls taking part to represent each missing girl. Similar marches are planned worldwide, including in London and Washington.

The abduction of the girls in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria sparked global outrage, with nations such as the U.S. and China promising to help find them.

There have been reported sightings of the girls, but none has been found. Boko Haram say the girls have converted to Islam and been married off. It has been a whole year of agony for the relatives of the missing 219 Chibok girls.

High-profile figures such as Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Malala Yousafzai and U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, were among those who drew attention to their plight on Twitter last year under the #bringbackourgirls hashtag.

The campaigners for the rescue of the Chibok girls say the federal government has allowed an open wound on the conscience of the nation by its inability to free the students after 364 days.

During their march across the nation’s capital, leader of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, maintained that the government had the opportunity to rescue the girls in the early days of their abduction but failed in its responsibility.

The group then called on the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari not to give any excuse on the matter as Nigerians are already in high expectations.

Jonathan Congratulates Malala And Co-winner Of Nobel Peace Prize

malala-yousafzai-031President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated the Pakistani girl-child education activist, Malala Yousafzai and the co-winner of this year’s Nobel Peace prize, Indian children’s rights campaigner, Kailash Satyarthi.

In a statement by his spokesman, Reuben Abati, President Jonathan believed that Malala and Satyarthi were very worthy of the Noble Peace prize in view of their very courageous advocacy against bigotry, discrimination, oppression and extremism even in the most difficult of circumstances.

The Nigerian President had met with Malala earlier this year when she visited Nigeria, to seek for more efforts in the rescue of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect.

President Jonathan praised her indomitable spirit, resilience, courage and conviction in promoting young girls’ right to education.

He also commended Satyarthi’s peaceful campaign against human trafficking and abuse of children as slave labourers, urging others with grievances around the world to emulate their methods of non-violent protests.

The President urged both Nobel laureates to draw greater strength from the global honour and recognition which the Nobel Peace prize represents and carry on their brave advocacy for the rights of girls, women and oppressed persons with renewed vigour and impetus.

He also assured them of his support for what they believe in and their views on gender equity and the protection of the rights of young persons.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria will continue to do all within its powers to promote safe education for all children and the empowerment of women, while vigorously protecting young children from forced labour and human trafficking,” the President stressed.

We Did Not Decline President Jonathan’s Invitation- Chibok Community Spokesman

Lawan_abanaThe spokesman for the Chibok Community, Mr Lawan Abana, has denied the alleged shunning of a meeting between parents of the abducted girls and some of the girls that escaped from their Boko Haram captors that were in Abuja to meet with Pakistani Rights Activist, Malala Yousafzai.

“I want to emphatically state that we did not (shun the meeting). We don’t have a reason to shun meeting our president,” he said, during a Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, on Wednesday.

“We are the beneficiaries of the magnanimity of our President. It is not true that we have declined to see the President. We have great respect for the person of our President and we will seize any opportunity to meet him, particularly at this critical period that we need his attention.”

He alleged that Chibok people were being attacked on a regular basis, stressing that they had every reason to wish to see the president. “We are happy to seize this opportunity to see the president,” he further said.

Mr Abana explained that women from the community had honoured the call of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, and at such “the President could not have invited us and we decline; we have no reason for doing that.

He decried media reports that they had shunned the meeting, describing it as gross misrepresentation of their stand.

The Chibok Community spokesman pointed out that though there was a collaboration between the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign group and the Chibok Community leaders, it was very untrue that the campaign group had influenced the Chibok people in any of their engagements.

“The team has reiterated to us publicly and to other members of the family that it has respect and has never interfered with our stand.

“There was a request by the Malala Foundation through one Mr Issen to invite some parents of the abducted children and some of the ‘escapee girls’ which we did.

“The Malala Foundation after meeting with the girls and their parents alongside some members of the community were told that they were to meet the president, but only the parents, members of the community and the escaped girls who were around were led into one room and they were informed that there was a meeting with the president.

“We thought it was going to take place there and then but it didn’t happen,” Mr Abana said.

He also said the community had mobilised to receive the President before his planned visit to Chibok was cancelled, maintaining that “when we were contacted at the night of that day, we contacted the members of our community at home and those who are here.

“Members of the community discussed robustly and mobilised as many members of the community to scrutinise our demands to our President. It is not true that we actually declined; we have everything to lose by declining meeting with the president,” he said.

Suspicion And Animosity

He also confirmed that the President had written a letter inviting members of the community, parents of the abducted girls and some of the girls that escaped from the clutches of Boko Haram to a meeting on July 22.

“This is exactly what we wanted, we want to fine tune our position and jointly and comprehensively with the Presidency, so that we will be able, before then, to collate information so that we will be able to adequately present our case to the President and the presidency,” he said.

Earlier, a leader of the Chibok Community in Abuja, Mr Dauda Iliya, had blamed the refusal of the members of the community on the suspicion that lies between the Chibok Community and the Federal Government.

In a telephone interview on Sunrise Daily, Mr Iliya said:  “As a Nation and as a people we have been traumatised; we have gone through a lot. There is suspicion between the Chibok people and government across board”.

He cited the “ugly incident where wives of some Chibok elders in Abuja were detained at the instance of the first lady” following a protest some days after the abduction as one of the reasons for such suspicion.

He further noted that the incidence had “created deep suspicion and animosity between the Chibok leadership and government,” adding that they were not part of an arrangement for the nine parents and four girls to see the government.

Mr Iliya, who said the parents and girls brought from Chibok to see Malala used translators to communicate, further noted that “at the point that an arrangement was going to be made for these girls, purportedly to see the President, our people involved in the translation were barred by security agents from being part of that meeting,” insisting that the situation further aggravated and deepened the fear and animosity.

Mr Iliya also noted the translators were shut out of a meeting with the Malala Foundation and “when the security agents and the Malala people were left with the nine parents and the girls they could not get their concerns because there was nobody to translate for them”.

Ezekwesili Stopped Chibok Community From Seeing Jonathan – Okupe

Doyin-OkupeThe Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Doyin Okupe on Wednesday, July 16, blamed the convener of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, of scuttling the proposed meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and parents of the abducted Chibok girls, who were in Abuja.

“I have it on good authority that the Chairman of the Chibok Community in Abuja and the parents were very enthusiastic and happy that the president was going to see them”, but was quick to add that “unfortunately the night before Malala left we knew there was something untoward that was already in the offing” he said.

Mr Okupe alleged that the Pakistani Child Rights Activist, Malala Yousafzai, before boarding a plane back “was on the telephone with some of the leaders of Bring Back Our Girls and in particular, Mrs Ezekwsili, who insisted to her that under no circumstances would they allow the girls and parents to visit the president” adding that “Malala was very upset and distraught that she was on the phone for about 40 minutes pleading.

“When she was not successful, she gave the phone to her father, who also passionately pleaded that having made this effort so far, it will be very sad and unbecoming and a major setback to the world if the Bring Back Our Girls campaign should frustrate that meeting” he said.

He described the incident as an unpleasant development in the bid to rescue the girls and added that “yesterday was really a dark day; a very unfortunate day that we had a very unpleasant development in this issue of Chibok”.

Speaking via a telephone interview on Sunrise Daily, Mr Okupe said “Malala broke down in tears” adding that “that they agreed with her that if she made that appointment they will go”

He however said President Jonathan has formally written to the Chibok Community to see him on the matter and debunked claims that Malala’s visit prompted the invitation.

He noted that several committees had on the instance of the Federal Government visited Chibok town but were not allowed to see either parents of the abducted girls or some of the girls that had escaped from their captors due to “fear of being seen on camera”.

He however noted that “it is the same people that were able to come to Abuja and didn’t cover their face(s), they were ready and willing to speak on camera openly to local and foreign media”.

He said the President has assured Nigerians that “he will do everything within his power to ensure that he brings the girls back safely”.

Suspicion Between Chibok Community And Federal Government

Meanwhile, a leader of the Chibok Community in Abuja, Mr Dauda Iliya, has blamed the refusal of the members of the community on the suspicion that lies between the Chibok Community and the Federal Government.

Also speaking via a telephone interview on Sunrise Daily, Mr Iliya said “as a Nation and as a people we have been traumatised; we have gone through a lot. There is suspicion between the Chibok people and government across board”.

He cited the “ugly incident where wives of some Chibok elders in Abuja were detained at the instance of the first lady” following a protest some days after the abduction as one of the reason for such suspicion.

He further noted that the incidence has “created deep suspicion and animosity between the Chibok leadership and government” adding that “we are not part of an arrangement for those nine parents and four girls to see the government”, Mr Iliya said.

Mr Iliya, who said the parents and girls brought from Chibok to see Malala used translators to communicate, further noted that “at the point that an arrangement was going to be made for these girls, purportedly to see the President, our people involved in the translation were barred by security agents from being part of that meeting” insisting that “that further aggravated and deepened the fear and animosity”.

Mr Iliya also noted the translators were shut out of a meeting with the Malala Foundation and “when the security agents and the Malala people were left with the nine parents and the girls they could not get their concerns because there was nobody to translate for them”

He however said that a meeting is possible if the President writes formally to invite the parents of the abducted girls and some of the girls that escaped from the den of the Boko Haram sect.

Mr Okupe had earlier said the President has sent a fresh letter of invitation to the community for another meeting scheduled for next week.

The Presidency alleged that efforts by President Goodluck Jonathan to meet with the parents of the Chibok girls hit the walls yesterday (Tuesday, July 15) following the refusal by the Nigerian ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners to allow parents of the girls, who were in Abuja, to meet with the President.

The leadership of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners have, however, denied the allegation. While they said that they would want more parents to be involved in the meeting, the Federal Government believe the campaigners are more interested in more showmanship than the plight of the children.

The Presidency said that Malala nearly missed her flight while pleading with the leadership of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign to allow those parents to meet with the President since they were already in Abuja.