On the frontline: Protecting Afghanistan’s human rights defenders

Afghan human rights defenders are among the bravest in the world. Despite being on the receiving end of threats, harassment, intimidation, violence, and assassinations, they continue to fight for the rights of Afghans. To complicate matters further, effective investigations into attacks and threats against activists–by both state and non-state actors–are rare, as perpetrators regularly evade justice and fuel a cycle of impunity.  

Additionally, since the US-Taliban agreement in February 2020, targeted assassinations have silenced activists, human rights defenders, educators, journalists, and others who speak the truth about atrocities being committed in Afghanistan. Despite these conditions, Afghanistan’s human rights defenders bravely continue their vital work, and as the full US and NATO troop withdrawal looms in September, their work is more important now than ever.

Join the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center for a discussion with some of Afghanistan’s leading human rights defenders and experts to explore what lies ahead for the activists who put their lives on the line to fight violence, impunity, and militancy.


Horia Mosadiq
Afghan human rights activist, political analyst, and journalist

Samira Hamidi
South Asia Regional Campaigner
Amnesty International

Patricia Cooper
Women’s Regional Network

Khalil Raufi
Afghan human rights defender

Moderated by

Marika Theros
Nonresident senior fellow
Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center

The South Asia Center is the hub for the Atlantic Council’s analysis of the political, social, geographical, and cultural diversity of the region. ​At the intersection of South Asia and its geopolitics, SAC cultivates dialogue to shape policy and forge ties between the region and the global community.

Related Experts: Marika Theros and Sahar Halaimzai

Image: Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter attend ceremonies before Ghani and Abdullah place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia March 24, 2015. Ghani will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama later today. REUTERS/Gary Cameron