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Shaheen Statement on Grim One-Year Anniversary of the Taliban’s Takeover of Afghanistan

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, released the following statement today on the one-year anniversary since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. 

“Today marks a somber day in global history. Since the Taliban’s takeover one year ago, we’ve seen rampant violence, a massive rollback of basic rights for women and girls and targeted persecution of vulnerable groups, like the Afghans who assisted the U.S. mission over the past two decades. For years, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the need to safeguard the rights of Afghan women and girls to participate in society, receive equal access to education and determine their own futures. Unfortunately, the progress made over decades to secure women’s basic freedoms is now being systematically erased by the Taliban’s violent rule. The global community must hold the Taliban accountable for its violence and galvanize coordinated international pressure to force the Taliban to change course,” Shaheen said.  

She continued: “In addition, the U.S. and our allies cannot turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants who remain in Afghanistan, targeted by the Taliban for aiding the U.S. mission. These brave Afghans stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our soldiers on the battlefield, putting their lives on the line to fight for a better future for their country. With each day that passes, they live under the threat of Taliban retribution while navigating a complex SIV application process. We cannot abandon them – although our military mission concluded, our humanitarian obligation continues.” 

 “I welcome the Biden administration’s recent actions that have streamlined the SIV program and reduced the administrative burden on applicants. It’s also important that Temporary Protected Status has now been extended to Afghans living in the U.S. so they are not deported back to unsafe and violent conditions. We must continue to review the political and strategic decisions that led us to the longest war in U.S. history to ensure we don’t repeat these mistakes,” Shaheen concluded. “The situation on the ground in Afghanistan is still dire, and I’ll continue to help vulnerable Afghans and ensure Afghanistan remains a top U.S. foreign policy priority.” 

Shaheen has long championed the rights of Afghan women and girls and has led Senate efforts to bolster Congressional support for human rights around the world. Shaheen repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government a U.S. foreign policy priority. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Act, which was signed into law in 2017 and ensures women’s leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. She has also led bipartisan efforts to address the unique barriers young girls in developing countries face in accessing a full education. Shaheen previously led a group of Senators in condemning the Taliban’s decision to renege on its promise to open schools to Afghan girls above the sixth grade, and led a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging his administration to take action. In April, she led a bipartisan delegation visit with Senator Ernst and Senator Susan Collins to the UN to discuss how the U.S. and international community can best support women and girls in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Shaheen and Ernst sent a letter with Senators Bob Menendez and Jim Risch to the United Nations, urging it to take measures to hold the Taliban to account for its continued abuses of Afghan women and girls’ human rights. Earlier this month, Shaheen was part of a bipartisan group, including U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, Dianne Feinstein and Tammy Baldwin, who were briefed by representatives from the U.S. State Department and USAID on the status of Afghan women and girls nearly one year since the United States withdrew from Afghanistan. 

Senator Shaheen historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on efforts to protect Afghans who’ve risked their lives to support U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad by strengthening the Afghan SIV program. She has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs. In addition, Senator Shaheen supported legislation to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission to examine every aspect of the war in Afghanistan, including the political and strategic decisions that transformed a focused military mission into a vast, nation-building campaign that became the longest war in U.S. history.