The Second Vienna Conference, a gathering of notable political, cultural, and social figures who stand in opposition to the Taliban terrorist group ended in Vienna, Austria, with the release of a declaration.
In the declaration, the participants of the Second Vienna Conference criticized the Taliban’s treatment of women in Afghanistan. They condemned the group’s systematic removal of women from the public sphere, describing it as a “perfect manifestation” of gender apartheid. The participants went on to express their solidarity with Afghan women and girls, throwing their support behind the ongoing protests and struggles for women’s rights.
Criticism of the international community and the United Nations for their “silence” regarding the dire situation faced by Afghan women under Taliban rule is a central focus of the declaration released by the participants. They condemned this approach, describing it as “irresponsible.”
In addition to this, the declaration also highlighted the participant’s rejection of the Taliban’s extremist and terrorist goals, specifically in regard to the changes made to the educational curriculum. “In addition, we strongly condemn the closing of schools and universities for girls in Afghanistan,” the declaration reads. “We also reject the changes they have made in the schools’ curricula for the purposes of achieving the Taliban’s extremist and terrorist goals.”
The participants of the Second Vienna Conference also took issue with recent remarks made by the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammad, regarding talks to recognize the Taliban terrorist group. They described her remarks as “irresponsible” and criticized the UN for providing “inadequate” explanations.
The conference participants expressed concern about the upcoming meeting in Doha, which will be hosted by the UN Secretary-General. They argued that the meeting will lack “real representatives” of the Afghan people and called on the organizers to avoid discussions that could lead to the prolongation of the Taliban’s rule and further complicate the situation in Afghanistan.
Call for Recognition of Afghan Resistance
In the declaration released following the conclusion of the Second Vienna Conference, participants urged the international community “to recognize the legitimacy of all forms of resistance by the peoples of Afghanistan” against the Taliban terrorist group.
In addition to the armed resistance led by groups such as the National Resistance Front and Afghanistan Freedom Front, Afghan women are also engaging in civil resistance against the Taliban and demanding recognition from the global community. The women seek to draw international attention to the discriminatory and misogynistic policies imposed by the Taliban, which they describe as a form of “gender apartheid”.
The Conference participants affirmed their commitment to the “methodical integration” of all the opposition factions against the Taliban. To facilitate this effort, a working group has been established to develop a comprehensive roadmap and strengthen cooperation, the declaration states.
While underscoring the primacy of negotiations and peaceful solutions as “the best option,” the participants also expressed support for all forms of resistance against the Taliban, emphasizing expanding and strengthening it.
In addition, the declaration urged the United Nations to take action against the Taliban, by reprimanding them and imposing “sanctions on those of their leaders committing systematic violations of human rights and women’s rights.”
The participants of the Second Vienna Conference urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “identify and prosecute Taliban leaders and commanders who have committed crimes against humanity and grossly violated human rights.” Additionally, they welcomed the global consensus surrounding the non-recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate government.
Concerns were also raised in the declaration about the spread of terrorism in Afghanistan, which was described as a serious threat to the region. The participants expressed skepticism regarding the Taliban’s claims of fighting against terrorism, characterizing such assertions as “delusional.”
Overthrowing Taliban as a Common Goal
Hoda Khamosh, a participant in the Second Vienna Conference and a protesting woman, responded to questions by Nimrokh regarding whether women’s issues are instrumentalized by Afghan politicians in such meetings. She asserted that regardless of some potential differences, the shared objective of all participants was the removal of the Taliban from power and the ultimate victory of the Afghan people.
She added that since the Taliban terrorist group regained power in Afghanistan, women have been subjected to the same oppressive conditions they faced in the 1990s, including home detention and the loss of their hard-won rights and achievements. She called for unity in the face of a common enemy that has taken away the Afghan people’s life, homeland, aspirations, civilization, and language. Khamosh urged everyone to work together to become messengers of genuine peace in Afghanistan.
On Monday, April 24, the Austrian Insitute for International Affairs played host to the Second Vienna Conference, attended by a group of 30 individuals, 10 of whom were women. The participants were drawn from a variety of political, civil, social, and cultural backgrounds, and united in their opposition to the Taliban. The meetings concluded on Wednesday afternoon, April 26.
Notably, the Institute also hosted the First Vienna Conference in September 2022.