Report and Interview by Suhaila Sama
Tamana Zaryab Paryani is a young voice from Afghanistan questioning common narratives.
Since August 2022, Paryani has lived in Cologne.
On August 12, 2023, she started a hunger strike which ended after 12 days with her hospitalization.
Currently, the third round of Tamana’s strike is ongoing. Tamana Paryani carries a powerful and resolute message for the global community: Gender apartheid must be recognized in Afghanistan.
Born in 1997, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Political Science from a private university in Kabul. The former Journalist became a women’s rights activist and a human rights defender since the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan.
Tamana Paryani was among the first to openly protest the Taliban in 2021. Along with a group of other young women, the “seekers for justice”, she marched for freedom chanting the slogan, “Bread, work, freedom” to protest the exclusion of women from public life. With others, the woman activist got detained and abused in jail.
In the past three month several female Women Rights Activists got detained in Afghanistan. Manizha Siddiqui is in custody since 9th of October. Neda Parwani, Zholia Parsi, and Matiullah Wesa are is prison as well for defending women’s rights.
Interview with Tamana Zaryab Paryani by Suhaila Sama
S.S.: Which part of your protest are you currently in?
TZP: The third round of my strike is currently underway in the city of Wipperfurth, Germany, with some colleagues, friends, and activists who have gathered to support me. My mother usually comes to visit me under the shelter of the tent.
S.S.: What time will this round come to an end?
TZP: It will end on October 28th, 2023.
S.S.: Have other people, like human rights activists, come to support you in your hunger strike?
TZP: Friends, cultural, and human rights activists have come to me and have supported my movement in some way. My family, especially my mother and sisters, have always been my supporters and companions in my struggle.
S.S.: Have the government authorities in Germany or other countries expressed their support for your strike aimed at acknowledging gender discrimination in Afghanistan?
TZP: Germany’s government has not listened to what I have to say, and the same is true for other countries.
S.S.: When and how did you begin your defiance?
TZP: My defiance started with a traditional family where I grew up, and then the patriarchal Afghan society made me a protestor.
S.S.: What are the specific demands you have from the international community for Afghanistan?
TZP: Recognizing the existence of gender discrimination in Afghanistan, halting aid, refraining from engaging in negotiations with the Taliban, and securing the release of prisoners from Taliban prisons.
Tamana is a new generation activist with a different approach to her fight for freedom. She has begun protests within her family, involving her three sisters in standing up against the injustices faced by women under the rule of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Unlike numerous activists who received financial assistance for their social and political initiatives during the 20-year period in Afghanistan, Tamana initiated her protest with empty hands.
Her goal is to fight against the injustices of the Taliban, and she would rather not be silent about their crimes. She believes that silence is equivalent to supporting the oppression and crimes of the Taliban. Tamanas protest is intended to represent the millions of Afghan citizens. She does not just chant slogans, she takes action. One can still raise the voice without financial support or being a prominent figure.