Taliban arrests activist for girls’ education in Afghanistan

Even as teenage girls and women are still barred from entering classrooms, the Taliban has arrested a prominent Afghan advocate for female education.

Matiullah Wesa, 30, has spent years traveling across Afghanistan attempting to improve access to education for all children.

The Taliban have not stated why Mr Wesa was detained.

His arrest coincides with the detention of a number of activists advocating for women’s education.

Prof Ismail Mashal, an outspoken critic of the Taliban government’s ban on women’s education, was arrested in Kabul in February while handing out free books. He was released on March 5, but has not spoken out since.

Mr. Wesa is one of Afghanistan’s most prominent education activists, and his charity PenPath has been advocating for girls’ right to education since the Taliban banned female education in 2021.

On Monday, a day before his arrest, he tweeted a photo of PenPath volunteers “asking for the Islamic right to education for their daughters.”

Matiullah Wesa’s Twitter post should be skipped.
The UN mission in Afghanistan has also raised Mr Wesa’s case, urging the Taliban to provide information about his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention.

According to Mr. Wesa’s brother, he was stopped by men in two vehicles outside a mosque in Kabul on Monday evening.

“When Matiullah asked for their identity cards, they beat him and took him away,” Samiullah Wesa explained.

Over the last decade, Mr. Wesa has visited hundreds of districts in Afghanistan to promote the cause of education.

Mr. Wesa’s PenPath network has over 2,400 volunteers across the country. They assist in the establishment of local classrooms, the recruitment of teachers, and the distribution of books and stationery.

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