Monday, June 7, 2010

Updates from the AIHRC

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission was founded eight years ago yesterday - June 6, 2002. Staff here commemorated the day with tea, cake, and a brief speech from Dr. Sima Samar, the chair of the commission. She noted that 8 years old is equivalent to a third-grade student, with much already learned and yet much more to do, and then spoke directly to a number of different programs within the Commission.

I was proud because the election-monitoring team, formed that very day, received a brief mention. As hoped, I will be spending my summer receiving data from AIHRC field offices on political rights and violations complaints, then helping to write reports and regular press releases. Coming soon - a primer on the electoral system and possibly some of the candidates involved in September's elections, which will choose the Wolesi Jirga (the lower house of the legislature - the upper house, or Meshrano Jirga, is an appointed body).

It was also an opportunity to meet Dr. Samar. She was reportedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year (nominations and deliberations are not made public for 50 years), and some commentators mentioned her as a superior candidate to President Obama. She served as the first Minister of Women's Affairs and founded a women's rights organization called Shuhada (where Afreen is working for the summer). More recently, she was also appointed the UN special reporter on Darfur and named one of Forbes's 100 Most Powerful Women.

The days remain quiet as work plans remain in the formative stage, but as voter registration begins on June 12, it's certain to get busier quite soon.

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