Sima Samar: Human Rights, Reintegration and Reconciliation in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has been at war for three decades. There have been different players, yet, throughout, civilians suffer, especially women and children. One of the reasons for the long and violent war and for brutal terrorist activities in Afghanistan is lack of education.
We cannot win the war by military means alone. We need dialogue and negotiations. Yet, negotitations require an environment conducive to reintegration and reconciliation. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is not yet ready for sustainable reconciliation. The Afghan government cannot continue to undermine accountability and justice for short-term political gain.
Samar was born in Jaghoori, Ghazni, Afghanistan, on 4 February 1957. She obtained her degree in medicine in February 1982 from Kabul University, the first Hazara woman to do so. She practiced medicine at a government hospital in Kabul, but after a few months was forced to flee to her native Jaghoori, where she provided medical treatment to patients throughout the remote areas of central Afghanistan.
In 1984, the communist regime arrested her husband, and Samar and her young son fled to the safety of nearby Pakistan, and worked as a doctor in the refugee camp. Distressed by the total lack of health care facilities for Afghan refugee women, she established the Shuhada Organization and Shuhada Clinic in Quetta, Pakistan in 1989, dedicated to the provision of health care to Afghan women and girls, training of medical staff and education. In the following years further branches of the clinic/hospital were opened throughout Afghanistan.
Samar returned to Afghanistan in 2002 to assume a cabinet post in the Afghan Transitional Administration led by Hamid Karzai. In the interim government, she served as Deputy President and then as a Minister for Women's Affairs. She was forced into resignation because of death threats after questioning conservative Islamic laws, especially sharia law. During the 2003 Loya Jirga, several religious conservatives took out an ad in a local newspaper calling Samar the Salman Rushdie of Afghanistan.