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Interview With Nobel Prize Winning Human Rights Lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk; Interview With Journalist And Creator Of TransLash Media Imara Jones; Interview With Afghan Girl Prevented From Going To School Behayshta; Interview With Afghanistan Research And Evaluation Unit Director Orzala Nemat; Interview With U.S. Special Envoy For Afghan Women, Girls And Human Rights Rina Amiri. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 22, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
More horrifying images from Ukraine as Russia attacks a residential apartment building. The latest as I speak to the head of Ukraine to Nobel
Prize winning Center of the Civil Liberties.
Then, a new school year begins in Afghanistan, just not for the country's young women, as most remained barred from the basic right to an education.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IMARA JONES, JOURNALIST AND CREATOR OF TRANSLASH MEDIA: So, what we see as a dramatic increase in the aggressiveness and a range of these bills.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Trans journalist Imara Jones talk to Michel Martin about the tidal wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation across the United States.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Another wave of Russian missile attacks is targeting Ukrainian civilians. In this shocking video out of Zaporizhzhia, you can see two of them
striking a residential building. The dead and wounded a still being counted and more death and injury in the Kyiv region, where Ukrainian officials say
there has been a series of strikes with Iran made drone.
The United Nations says more than 8,300 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since Russia began its war, as Putin continues striking civilian
infrastructure and dwellings. These numbers come as both he and his minister for Children's Affairs have been slapped with arrest warrants by
the International Criminal Court over the forced deportation of thousands upon thousands of Ukrainian children from Russian occupied regions.
I've been speaking about accountability for these and other war crimes with Oleksandra Matviichuk, the human rights lawyer and head of Ukraine's Center
for Civil Liberties, which last year was one of the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Oleksandra Matviichuk, welcome to the program.
OLEKSANDRA MATVIICHUK, NOBEL PRIZE WINNING HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: Thank you for invitation.
AMANPOUR: Can I just start by asking you about today? You are in Ukraine. You have seen another wave of missiles and drones attacking civilian
structures in Zaporizhzhia and in the Kyiv region. What can you tell us about this, and what does it mean in the broader human rights picture?
MATVIICHUK: Well, you speak about general human family (ph), it mean that belief in total uncertainty. We can't know whether the next alarm started
or when internet will disappear. And why do we speak about our professionals for interview, it's a next war crimes, which was committed by
Russians which we have to document.
AMANPOUR: And how are you getting on with documenting? Because you've been doing it in real-time along with other organizations inside and outside
Ukraine. How is the documentation going?
MATVIICHUK: Well, our skill innovation started to reunite with other efforts with dozens regional organizations. And we've built all Ukrainian
network of local documentators. And that is why we are able to send local documentators for the place of crime when something happened and they made
their own photos and videos, speak with people, collect testimonies, et cetera.
AMANPOUR: And the government, your government today, said that these latest attacks are deliberate attacks against civilians. So, that is a war
crime obviously. And I wonder how you get your documenting teams to the places that are under attack.
MATVIICHUK: It depends whether the crime is committed because Russian troops, deliberately (INAUDIBLE) residential buildings, schools, churches,
hospitals, attack of recreation (ph) corridors, management filtration camp systems, organized forcible deportations and commit to murders, tortures,
rapes, abductions in the occupied territories. So, when we speak about controlled a part by Ukrainian government, which is far from called the
battle zone, it's easier for us to send people to work on the ground.
But when we speak about the documentation on the occupied territories, it's a very difficult job because these people who collect information, they are
-- can be subjected to illegal detention and torture.
AMANPOUR: And also, Oleksandra, I've heard that, you know, even those committing the crimes are much less the victims in the occupied regions,
maybe many of them are dead by now. Do you consider that a problem in terms of accountability in the future?
MATVIICHUK: It's a huge problem that -- I am, as a Ukrainian human rights defender, who have been implying the law for many years to protect people
and human dignity, for current moment, have no legal tooth how to protect people in the occupied territories. And people their live in gray zone.
They have no chance to protect their rights, their freedom, their property, their lives, and their loved ones. This means that occupation is not
alternative to the work, it's just another form of this war.
AMANPOUR: You know we've heard the most terrible stories about children, the attack on children, the forcible deportation of children, the kidnap of
children, the indoctrination of children, the forced adoptions of children over in Russia. And as you know, the ICC has issued a warrant for the
arrest of Vladimir Putin and his so-called commissioner for Children's Affairs, and her name is Maria Lvova-Belova. Do you see this as a good
first step? How do you react to the ICC arrest warrant?
MATVIICHUK: I welcome this arrest warrant because it's historical decision. It's first in the history when International Criminal Court
issued arrest warrant from the current head of the state, which is the member of Security Council of U.N. and the state which has a huge nuclear
potential. This means that International Criminal Court emphasize why it's again that we have to live in a world rule of law dictate rules, not brutal
AMANPOUR: So, I want to play a soundbite of -- it was last month when this woman, Maria Lvova-Belova, was talking to Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin
about this abduction. Although, she didn't call it that. And it was about her adopting a child from Mariupol. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Did you adopt a child for Mariupol yourself?
MARIA LVOVA-BELOVA, RUSSIAN COMMISSIONER FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS (through translator): Yes, thanks to you. 15 years old. Now, I know what it's like
to be the mother of a child from Donbas. It's difficult, but we definitely love each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you feel? I just want to know your feeling when you first saw that?
MATVIICHUK: Like it's very sensitive topic for me and for Ukrainians because it's children and this is Ukrainian children who are forcibly
educated as Russians. And in the press release, International Criminal Court qualified this action as a war crime. But I do believe that to we
have to prove that it's much more bigger, it's a component of genocidal policy, which Russia imposed against Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: OK. That's a really huge crime. As you know, it's the highest crime under international law, genocide. Tell me what legal route do you
see from those abductions to actual genocide. Why do you call it that?
MATVIICHUK: When we say that this war how genocidal character, we not just rely upon the statement of Putin and he's surrounding that Ukraine has no
right to exist, there is no Ukrainian nation, there is no Ukrainian culture, there is no Ukrainian language, but also on actual activities,
which restaurants committed in Ukraine.
It's very visible in occupied territories, how they forcibly change identity of people. They prohibit Ukrainian language, they try to persecute
-- not to try, but persecute people who express Ukrainian identity. And in this regard, when we speak that Ukrainian children are forcibly re-educated
as Russians, it's a component of this policy because when we have this genocidal intent to destroy it completely or partial, some ethnic group,
there is no obligation just to kill old members of this group. You can just forcibly change their identity of members of the group, and the whole group
AMANPOUR: Yes. You're quoting, obviously, the Geneva Conventions and the laws that describe the components of genocide. That is going to be
something to be looked at down the line. But immediately, do you believe that are issuing this arrest for this crime might stop this crime? Do have
any hope that -- because the Russians say proudly that they're doing it, but for humanitarian reasons, that's what they say. Do you think it might
MATVIICHUK: I think that we will not achieve easy solution, but is a first important step to break the circle community, which Russian troops enjoyed
for decades. Because Russian troops commit horrible war crimes, in (INAUDIBLE), in Moldova, in Georgia, in Mali, in Syria, in Libya, in other
countries of the world, and they have never been punished for this.
They start to believe they can do whatever they want. And that is why it's a first signal which was sent to Russia that you will be accountable for
whatever sin which you committed on the territory of Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: It's said that -- well, certainly the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office has said that some 67,000 crimes have been documented as
of as of this moment. And as you know, there are lots of different organizations, NGOs, the ICC, you know, many other bodies who are trying to
help Ukraine with all -- with this.
How is it going as far as your concern? Is there a streamlined effort? Is it all over the place? What is the process?
MATVIICHUK: We face with a huge accountability together, because national system is overloaded with an extreme amount of crimes. And International
Criminal Court will limit its investigation only to several selected cases. And the question is on the table, who will provide justice for hundreds of
thousands of victims of this war who will not be lucky to be selected by International Criminal Court?
And that is why we must move further. We need international assistance and involvement or international lawyers, investigators, detectives, judges. We
have to implement international element on the level of national investigation and national justice, because life of each person matters.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you a question about Memorial, which is the Russian human rights organization that was a co-winner with you for the
Nobel Prize. Now, 15 months later, you know, they've been shut down, Memorial. They've had their houses raided. Their apartments raided. I guess
my question to you is, do you feel that there's any organization in Russia right now that can hold their own authorities accountable, that can at
least, you know, speak about their men, report about these things?
MATVIICHUK: I will use this opportunity to express my solidarity with our Russian human rights colleagues, because they are not just Nobel Peace
Prize winner, they are other friends and colleagues, and we closely cooperated with them for many, many years. And when the war started, they
took a very proactive and honest human position. They ultimately named the war, the war. They said the took -- invasion of Crimea is a international
crime. And they help us a lot with the cases of Ukrainian political prisoners.
But for current moment, neither -- either a Memorial, not other human rights organization in Russia can have influence to situation, because they
are marginal in their own society. Unfortunately, majority of Russians supported this war because they have based imperialistic culture and want
forcibly restore their former Russian empire.
AMANPOUR: Oleksandra, I want to ask you a personal question. As a woman, as a human rights activist trying to pursue now the most intense cases of
your life in your career, I assume, women are hugely implicated and are victims, as well as children, in this war that's been foisted on your
country. What are your personal reflections and feelings at this moment in this war?
MATVIICHUK: I have too many feelings. First. I must be very honest that I have working human rights field for 20 years and nine of them I have been
documenting war crimes. I personally interviewed hundreds of people who survived Russian captivity and they told me horrible stories, how they were
beaten, raped, how they fingers got cut, how they were tortured with electricity and other kinds of horrible details.
But even I, with all my experience on the ground, wasn't prepared for search level of atrocity because Russia uses war crimes, good methods
warfare. And Russia attempts to break people resistance and occupy the Ukraine by inflicting that immense pain on millions of people.
But second, my feelings, it's a feeling of love because when large scale invasions started, it resulted in a huge wave of solidarity among people in
Ukraine. And we become witness how ordinary people started to do extraordinary things. And when international organizations evacuated their
personnel, ordinary people remained and start to do their work. They broke encirclement to provide humanitarian aid. They helped people to survive
under artilleries fire. They rescued people who are trapped into the rubbles of residential buildings, et cetera, et cetera.
And now, I think that we, like never before, have this very sharp telling, what does it mean to be a human being.
AMANPOUR: Amazing. Oleksandra Matviichuk, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
MATVIICHUK: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the insidious chipping away human rights is happening all across the world with women, minorities, and the LGBTQ particularly
vulnerable. In a moment, we will look at the crackdown on women's rights in Afghanistan. But first, to Uganda where parliament has applauded the
passage of a bill making it illegal to identify as LGBTQ. And in the United States where the Georgia legislature has just passed the latest in this
string of anti-trans bills.
Our on next guest says this is no coincidence. Imara Jones is founder of TransLash Media, an independent new site focusing on transgender issues.
She joins Michel Martin to breakdown what's behind the onslaught of this anti-LGBTQ laws across America and around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Imara Jones, thanks so much for talking with us.
IMARA JONES, JOURNALIST AND CREATOR OF TRANSLASH MEDIA: Thank you so much for having me.
MARTIN: The specific thing we wanted to start with today is that in 2023 alone, this is according to the ACLU, more than 426 bills that have been
identified or described as anti-LGBTQ laws have been introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. And this is a market contrast from a few years
ago when this was not a small number, but in 2019, there were some 60 some bills. This is, of course, also according to the ACLU.
So, first of all, I wanted to ask you, what are the scope of these bills? What are some of the things that these bills would do?
JONES: In terms of the scope of these bills, I think what we have to understand is that the scope is increasing and becoming ever more
aggressive. So, we started out essentially in the time period that you laid out with the anti-trans sports bills and the anti-trans bills that would
people equal access to medical care for trans youth, what people called Gender-Affirming Care. And that kind of was where the universe of things
And what we've witnessed over the past year is a far more aggressive and wide-reaching range of bills. That include, I'm mandating the use of
certain pronouns that are on your birth certificates, that would ban drag performances, and in some cases would make it illegal for trans people to
walk down the street and the clothing of their gender identity by extension. And increasingly, a ban on the medical care for all trans
people, including adults.
And now, most recently in Florida, a bill that would legalize family separation in the cases of parents who accept their trans children. So,
what we see is a dramatic increase in the aggressiveness and a range of these bills.
MARTIN: How do you understand this? I mean, the fact of the matter is that people often introduce, you know, attention getting bills into state
legislatures and the vast majority of them, you know, never see the light of day. You know, people want the headline, but they don't necessarily
fight for the result. But given the sort of the dramatic increase in the number of bills, the types of bills, the kinds of things that they address,
how do you understand this? How do you see this movement?
JONES: Well, I think that the thing to understand about this conversation is that we did get here by accident. The fact is that trans people are only
1.5 percent of the population. A tiny group of people. But have found our way into the center of the debate in American political life in this
moment. And that's makes roughly decade-long plan executed by the far-right and the Christian Nationalist Movement to bring us to the point of this
You know, you don't go from a handful of bills in 2019 to hundreds of bills in two years without there being a pretty wide range in infrastructure that
includes nonprofit organizations, thinks tanks, political groups, religious organizations, billionaires funding it and a religious ideology motivating
it. And so, I think that what we have to understand is that we've gotten here not by accident, but by design.
MARTIN: And here you are drawing a lot of the work that you've been doing over the last couple of years as the creator of TransLash Media, which is a
nonprofit news organization. As you put it on your website, it produces content to shift the current culture of hostility towards transgender
people in the U.S. Talk a little bit more about how you started reporting on what you see as this movement and what are some of the sort of the
pillars of it.
JONES: When I saw in 2020, the second of these bills in Alabama. The first one I noticed was in Idoho, my ears picked up. And that's because, you
know, I have enough experience to know that when you see the same type of thing appear in a totally different part of the country with a totally
different set of actors, that made point to the fact that that's not just a coincidence, right?
I think as the line from "The Majorettes" goes, I believe in coincidence, I just don't trust in coincidence. And so, I put together a team or
investigative journalist and we just started digging and just started asking the questions about, well, who are the people behind these and where
are they? And I not only do we come up with links, you know, of similarities, but then, we basically uncovered what we could only describe
as the anti-trans hate machine.
That's why we labelled the investigative series that, because there is an interlocking group of organizations and systems that are driving these
bills. They are in conversation with each other, they are in coordination of each other. They are testing these bills, parts of their universe. Have
focused grouped this issue. That's actually one of the ways that they landed on trans youth was because of a series of focus groups in 2018.
So, I think that what we have to understand again is that vastness of the intent here to drive the conversation about trans people along specific
parameters into public life. There's nothing organic about this conversation.
MARTIN: You also have written about the relationship between laws targeting trans people at the medical care that they can receive the
institutions or, you know, places, public places that they can use or be seen. You also draw a connection to anti-abortion laws or laws that would
restrict abortion rights that are also very much a part of the political moment. What's the relationship there that you see?
JONES: Well, it's the same groups. You know, it's the lines, defending freedom, it's the Heritage Foundation, it's the Family Research Council and
focus on the family, sort of these main stains of the rightly movement that have decided to put a lot of their weight behind these issues.
And for them, you know, control over bodies, people's ability to control their bodies is really about control over society. And it is because -- and
we know we're really uncomfortable talking about this in mainstream media or in journalism in general, but it's motivated by a very specific
religious ideology and a religious essentialism that they believe has to animate public life in America.
And a part of that is anything that is the exclusion of anything that is not biblically sanctioned for them, anything outside of the gender binary
and anything outside of patriarchy, which for them is defined by God is actually a deep problem for the American body politic that they want to
rectify. And so, it's the exact same groups that are driving, and I have been driving the anti-abortion movement that are driving the anti-trans
And that is because unlike progressives or so-called progressives or even liberals who see these issues at separate, they very much understand the
way that they link around the issue of bodily autonomy and it's why they are pushing so on them. And it's one of the reasons why we're sinking the
migration of anti-abortion tactics into anti-trans tactics such as, you know, targeting doctors, being outside of gender fermi (ph) clinics, you
know, shouting at people as they go in. All of those things have started to migrate from the anti-abortion moving into the anti-trans movement because
of these links.
MARTIN: You know, the other thing -- interesting thing that you've pointed out, which I'm not sure whether journalists have kind of made this
connection, some have, is that there really is along the rise of this movement against abortion rights has also been the rise of autocratic
movements around the world. And many of them are deeply concerned with gender norms, with access to abortion.
For example, like in Poland, for example, the push to sort of more autocratic means of government has also coincided with a push toward
restricting abortion. And this -- we've seen this in lots of places around the world. What is your theory of the case here? Why does this seem to be
the concern of autocrats?
JONES: Yes, it's really interesting. I had a long conversation recently with Masha Gessen about this and about Russia.
MARTIN: Masha Gessen, being the well-known writer, a "New Yorker" writer, and obviously a frequent guest on this program as well. And obviously, a
very acute chronicler of all things written in Russia, politics and Eastern Europe more broadly, just -- you were saying?
JONES: That's right. You can almost look at the rise of authoritarianism within Putin's regime, specifically, you know, as you're moving from the
last second to the third term with these increasing directives focus on gender and gender identity. Again, linking these two issues.
And I think that there are a couple of things, right? I think one, it's about emphasizing the muscularity of state, right? The power of the state,
the need for the power of the state. The second thing that it does, is that it allows authoritarians to actually begin to road test how far they can go
in their push towards authoritarians, what laws are they going to be able to do when executive actions, how aggressive can the police be and the
judiciary? It allows them to be able to experiment with kind of the cocktail that they'll use within their authoritarian regimes.
The third thing that it does is that it creates then also amongst people a legitimacy for state action that is muscular and punitive. And what do I
mean by that? By turning on a group of people that you can easily stigmatize, isolate and demonized you create a rationale for why this
muscular state is necessary, right? Because you need to be protected from these people that you fear and that are a threat to everything that you
hold dear. And I think those are some of the three essential ingredients as to why we can chart the rise of authoritarianism with a focus on gender and
gender identity and their intersection. And it's one of the reasons why alarm bells, I think, ringing here in America just now.
MARTIN: You know, the other thing that's curious though is that right now there are transwomen like Laverne Cox and Mikaela Jae Rodriguez and Janet
Mock who become huge stars on just well received, critically acclaimed, you know, programs and, you know, directing, producing, acting, you know,
winning a lot of accolades for their work. And I was just wondering, how do you kind of reconcile or how do you see this?
On the one hand, you see this kind of rise and pop culture, real success in pop culture, real influence in pop culture appreciation. And then, this
sort of countervailing movement in the political world.
JONES: Yes. I mean, it's one of the reasons why actually TransLash stands for transgender backlash. And for me, it was about wrestling with these two
things that we're seeing play out before us in real-time, the phenomenon that we've been wrestling with, the rise of the focus and peered (ph)
nature of gender identity in this country. And what you say, just that tremendous power and brilliance of trans people, black trans women in
particular shining through in some really powerful ways.
So, I think that one we just have to live and understand that that contradiction and to understand that both are true at the same time.
And I think it's because there's actually a real debate. There's a real contest between these two visions of where trans people belong in society.
And we actually don't know how that's going to play out. It's an open question which of these two visions is going to succeed. I think the third
thing that I would point to you, Michel, what can happen in entertain is kind of a preview of what can happen in the rest of society. But it's not a
So, I think, for instance, about Sidney Poitier and his groundbreaking rules in the 1960 at a time of segregation even, you know, before we've
made tremendous amount of progress found later in the 60s, right? The rise of his stardom, the rise of so many others at that time. Lena Horne, that
sort of previewed where society was going.
But there was a lot of trivial events that was to follow, a lot of violence that was to follow, and a lot of things where there was discontinued
contention about the role of black people in the country that we still haven't answered. I mean, black people still are able to dominate in areas
like sports and entertainment, for example, increasingly in entertainment. But still, that breakthrough is mirrored by the rest of society. So, I
think we have to learn to live with these contradictions at -- during this moment.
MARTIN: Can I ask you a personal question?
MARTIN: How -- has the way you've started to move through the world changed in recent -- I don't know what time frame you'd pick. Just -- you -
- when you -- there's this broader context of legal hostility, at least, sort of attempts at creating legal frameworks that would restrict where you
can go to school or way or how you can move through the world. How you can -- what you can do, what you can play, you know, what sports you can play.
Has that changed your life in a way that you feel comfortable talking about?
JONES: Yes -- I mean, I would say a couple of things. I think, you know, on the one hand, one of the things I do because I talk to trans people or
trans parents all the cross the country is that, you know, increasingly there are political refugees inside the United States. That is to say that
there are families and individuals that are fleeing the states and this country because they believe that they -- that -- they believe that they
are going to be and they have started to be persecuted for being who they are or being loving parents.
And that's very reveal. And for me, the impact, personally, is two-fold. One, I'd think twice about what state I'm going go to. Not because I can
generally navigate society just trying. But if someone recognizes me from doing this program or other things, and you know, I'm in the bathroom in a
state or something that has passed laws, I could be real jeopardy. And so, I do think twice about where I'm going to go and how I'm going to spend my
time in this country.
The second thing that I would say is that it is not -- I live in New York. But -- and people would go, oh, well, it's fine there. But just this
weekend, outside the LGBTQ center here, there was a Proud Boys protest. And they have to be -- the Proud Boys had -- were there and demonstrating. And
it got -- contention sets at moments. We had increasing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers protest at various public libraries and events here.
So, even in a place like New York, this growing rhetoric and focus on as this demonization (ph) which is giving people license to target us and
these more aggressive and violent ways has even impacted me and the city where I live.
MARTIN: And so -- and let me wheel it around now and put you on the spot, is there any part of you that feel some sympathy for people who just don't
understand this and feel that this is contrary to the world as they understood it? You know, they were taught a binary, there are men, there
are women. They don't know any trans people. And that it kind of upsets their concept of the way the world should be and they don't know what to do
JONES: I think that what makes me really upset is that the natural confusion or misunderstanding that people have is being manipulated and
weaponized by a group of people who wish to do us harm. I don't think that there is a chance, per se, in existence who minds a conversation about
well, what is this then? How did it come to be in? How did you become to be? And I don't understand.
I don't understand is the gateway to understanding it. So, I don't think that that's, you know, that that's the issue. I think the problem is that
natural curiosity and misunderstanding is being weaponized by this wider group of people that I spoke about. Who have malintent. And that's the
thing that I think is so dangerous about this moment and that's the thing that's so enraging.
And I think that once people get to know us, they generally accept this. I mean that's the reality. And because I know that in our story of becoming
ourselves is something that all human beings recognize, this desire and need to fulfill who we are and who we always known that we are.
MARTIN: Imara Jones, thank you so much for talking with us.
JONES: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And next, to the full-scale assault on women's rights in Afghanistan, where vacant chairs and empty classrooms mark the beginning of
the school year because girls remained barred from higher education. A cascade of bans began a year ago. The Taliban first closing off girls
access to secondary schools and then to universities. That, despite their assurances that they would not be denied this schooling.
The U.N. Children's Agency, UNICEF is calling, once more, for these Taliban edicts to be reversed so they can build vital social skills. And so, the
girls can get the education they need for the good of their country as well. I reached one young Afghan woman who's living these dark times,
Behayshta, which is not her real name, is an 18-year-old from the north. Here is what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAYSHTA, AFGHAN GIRL PREVENTED FROM GOING TO SCHOOL: So, being a girl in Afghanistan has always been challenging. And today, I (INAUDIBLE) like
there is something another (ph) are happening to us. Despite how much we struggle and by how many mental health diseases we are going through daily,
but there's always been a fair in our heart that like we're not able to see a certain future for ourselves.
And today, my heart really felt broken knowing that boys are allowed to go to school and continue their education. There's always the dream and hope
for them, but there's always uncertainty when it comes to girls. And it really felt like unfair (ph) seeing that I'm treated differently because of
my body difference (ph). Though it's not -- I've done nothing wrong. I'm OK with whatever the restriction they have, but I only want my right to the
I want to complete my high school, which always has been my dream. I want to pursue my education but when you see that others are choosing instead of
you, it really feels heartbreaking and especially with not equal. So, it's not equal for all the genders, but only when it comes to female and it
always -- when it comes to the girls.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And, Behayshta, what does it do to your sense of hope?
BEHAYSHTA: Actually, to be honest, for me personally, there's always something like a hopeless feeling inside my heart. Not knowing what's going
to happen next, because as I articulated before, I always -- I'm afraid of, like, darkness that is going to be happening for my future. Not only for
me, but also for the next generation. You know, girls and women are always left behind and they are, you know, not on the -- their rights are always
taken and their -- you know, they don't have the right to participation (ph). They are not heard.
And I'm always, like, hopeless seeing all this happening to us and most heartbreaking part is, like, maybe our voice or -- you know, we speak up,
but no one is hearing that and no turn actions are taking. So, all -- you know, considering all these things, it really gives us an uncertain and
AMANPOUR: Behayshta, your voice is going to be heard and we are going to make sure that it is. And so, thank you for being with us. Just very, very
quickly, are you learning in secret, in hiding? Do you get any education at all right, now.
BEHAYSHTA: I'm trying to get you know, this all an opportunity. But yes, as you said, I have been and I'm really not feeling like OK sharing that.
BEHAYSHTA: Because as I said, there's risk to my safety if I share that I'm, like, pursuing my education. So, there are always have been, like --
have an opportunity that I'm trying to pursue for my education.
AMANPOUR: Well, we wish you really good luck.
BEHAYSHTA: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And the world does know about your plight. Behayshta, thanks for joining us.
BEHAYSHTA: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Behayshta's mother is a teacher in a high school and she too can't work. When I visited Kabul last year, I saw that many young women
just like her a trying to get an education any place they can. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voiceover): Wednesday morning in Kabul, and we're going to girls school through these plastic curtains and past prying eyes. Yes, this
fashion studio has become an alternate education facility, since the Taliban stopped girls from attending government high schools.
17-year-old Rokhsar wanted to be a doctor. Now she's learning to be a dressmaker.
We're feeling very bad, she tells us. Girls are not able to go to school, staying home, doing nothing. We hope that this will change our life, so we
can be self-sufficient, have a profession, learn, earn money to support ourselves and our families.
Neda wanted to be a professional soccer player.
AMANPOUR (on camera): You're 17. You have never known the Taliban government. Did you ever imagine that this would happen to you, that you
would be prevented from going to school?
AMANPOUR (voiceover): No, never. We tried our best for our future, but it's a dark one now because we kept away from our schools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (on camera): That was almost a whole year ago. Again, they are banned from going to school this new school year, obstacles to education
are not the only challenges faced by Afghan women. A trifecta of economic, humanitarian, and environmental disaster have also struck that country.
Just this week, a powerful earthquake hit Northern Afghanistan killing at least 13 people.
So, joining me now is the Afghan activist and scholar, Dr. Orzala Nemat. Welcome to the program. You listened to all of that. You heard the voice
today of a young 18-year-old who can't finish her high school. You saw those other women who I spoke to in Kabul, you know, basically having to
make due and not being able to realize their dreams. Do you think that this has any chance of being reversed?
ORZALA NEMAT, DIRECTOR, AFGHANISTAN RESEARCH AND EVALUATION UNIT: It's a very disappointing situation. And the Taliban declared this decree of
banning girls from education until a second decree, amresonia (ph), as they call it. A second order that comes -- meaning, that it will reverse it. And
they asked for time, and now the time is up.
It's one and a half year, nearly two years, and there is no sign of any action taken, any sign of hope, other than fake promises by the authorities
in Kabul. And saying that wait for it, don't rush. And other than deceiving people by saying that they are not against the girls' education, they need
time. How much time do you need? It's the future of a generation. We already lost one batch of graduates last year, missed their time to move
from high school to university, from secondary school to high school. We are going to miss the same for the next year. Unfortunately, there's -- it
doesn't seem to be any sign of changes in their policies as it seems right now.
AMANPOUR: And as you say, not being educated impacts, everything is a cascading effect. Save the Children has said that 3 million girls who were
previously enrolled in secondary school have been denied their right to education. Now, you mentioned the deception perpetrated by Afghan, you
know, current leaders who say they're not against girls going to school, just wait. But this is exactly what the leader of Afghanistan in Kabul told
me in May. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Do you believe that young girls, secondary school girls will be allowed to go to school here in Afghanistan?
SIRAJUDDIN HAQQANI, DEPUTY TALIBAN LEADER (through translator): I would like to provide some clarification. There is no one who opposes education
for women. And already girls are allowed to go to school up to grade six and above that grade. The work is continuing on a mechanism.
AMANPOUR: Could you tell us when you think that will happen?
HAQQANI (through translator): What I am saying to you is that very soon, you will hear very good news about this issue. God willing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, of course, Orzala, you know better than me that that news has not been good because it hasn't come and nothing has changed. But the
reason I'm playing it is in the interim, while Sirajuddin Haqqani, the most powerful Afghan Taliban leader right now based in Kabul, said there was,
you know, everybody in the Taliban movement agreed that girls should be educated.
We now know that that's not true. That the religious fundamentalists leadership in Kandahar does not agree and that's what's holding it up. The
question that I want to ask you is, Haqqani and others have come out criticizing them now. That's the first time we've seen a kind of a split in
the leadership. Do you think that's important and might the Kabul group win this battle?
NEMAT: Christiane, based on my own research and observation, this is split doesn't seem a realistic one, it's more rhetorical. Because the whole point
of Taliban ruling right now is their authority.
And the level of power that Kandahar has over the entire country through the GDI, the General Directorater of Intelligence is beyond Haqqani, beyond
any single individual leader or groups of leaders who claim to be different from the others.
The Taliban are successful in their strategy, in their P.R. strategy from the time of the Doha agreement to deceive the International Community by
saying that they have changed, they will to bring these changes. But then we realize that these changes are not happening.
It's true that primary education is on. Imagine if the primary education was not on, what would have happened? But then it's very unfair that at the
time when the entire world is progressing so fastly, including Saudi Arabia, the place where we go for pilgrimage as Muslims is changing and
keeping on having ministers after ministers who are women. Keeping, you know, rules that are supportive of women. Afghanistan is going backward.
Why? We've asked this question from Taliban authorities several times and their answers are just laughable, I'm sorry, it is to say.
AMANPOUR: So --
NEMAT: I was positive --
AMANPOUR: No, I'm sorry --
NEMAT: Christiane --
AMANPOUR: I just wanted to ask you, because you mentioned, you know, those other countries including, you know, where you go to Mecca. Why are these
Islamic countries not being successful telling the Taliban that actually what they're doing is not Islamic.
NEMAT: Well, the reason for that is basically because Taliban are not as they claim and appear to be the Islamic -- the only Islamic power in the
world or the only Islamic Nizam or order in the world. The Taliban are more political and military group that is following a very specific agenda. And
that agenda has nothing to do with the agendas of the Islamic countries with dealing with their own countries. That agenda is to do with particular
Islamic or international countries for their particular geopolitical and military and just to keep Taliban where they are.
However, I wanted to very quickly also mention that the women are not surrendering to this. It's also very important, Christiane, to highlight
NEMAT: I speak on daily basis with tens of women across Afghanistan, and they are defying it by either creating online opportunities or creating, at
least, giving some level of assurance because the suicide among students, graduates is increasing. And there is that form of resistance taking shape
that probably will, one way or another, pressurized this government. That for their own survival, they have to --
NEMAT: -- bring some changes.
AMANPOUR: And actually, Behayshta indicated that. And we see the resistance. We're going to dig more deeply into that. Orzala Nemat, thank
you very much for joining us.
Now, for more, I'm joined by Rina Amiri. She's the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women and Girls. And she's coming to us from the State Department in
So, Rina, welcome to the program. You heard what Professor Nemat said, and that is the resistance of the girls and women there. What is coming across
your desk? What do you understand about how these women, secondary age, and university age, and older, obviously, are for -- are sort of trying to
RINA AMIRI, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR AFGHAN WOMEN, GIRLS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Thank you very much, Christiane, first for having me on the program. And
for the way that you're framing the issue, I think too often, Afghan women are presented as victims. And you are putting light on the fact that Afghan
women are leaders and they are resilient and they are fighting back.
The world needs to understand that to counter the narrative that the situation of Afghan women is hopeless. There are -- Afghan women are asking
us not only to push back against the Taliban, but to mobilize and support them in both concrete terms and very specific ways because what they --
when they say that we have gone silent, they see the statements. But what they're asking for us to do is to recognize their leadership, to identify
where we can support them, and to put that support to work we.
AMANPOUR: Rina Amiri, do you buy any notion of a split. I mean, others have written about the fact that Sirajuddin Haqqani, the most powerful
leader, really, in terms of militia and power and all the rest of it, and others in Kabul are saying to the Kandahar group openly now that this is a
mistake. We don't agree with your policy on education. Do you believe that will have any impact?
AMIRI: I do believe that there are Talibs right now who are frustrated because they view this -- you know, it's not so much ideological as those
that are looking at their own viability. They fear that this is going to imperil their leadership and lead to their collapse as we -- as they've
seen. They watched history in the last four decades. And they see that when a -- authorities defy the wishes of the people, at least the collapse.
When they see that 50 percent of the population is not allowed to work, is not allowed to get educated, at least the economic collapse.
So, for that reason, there are some elements within the Taliban leadership that are pushing for a different direction. But that split right now, I
would say, is meaningless until we see any type of concrete impact. It's, you know, it's -- as Orzala said, it's rhetorical.
AMANPOUR: So, what can the U.S. do? You are very, very, you know, deeply involved. I know the United States pulled out and brought back the Taliban.
And here's where we are right now. What is the U.S. trying to do and what do you know to be the state of the economy there right now?
AMIRI: I mean, you know, the U. S. is working on a number of different fronts. On the diplomatic front, there has been engagements by myself, by
Representative Tom West, among others with the Taliban where we made very clear that what they want, they want sanction relief. They want engagement
at higher levels. They want steps towards recognition, including gaining the U.N. seat. They want economic development. And all those fronts, we
have said there is going to be no movement in that direction until the Taliban respect the wishes the Afghan people, particularly the rights of
women and girls.
We are also supporting -- putting economic support to prevent Afghanistan from further economic decline. The U. S. continues to be the largest donor
in the world to provide -- to support humanitarian relief. And you know, it is a context in which we are facing one of the worth humanitarian
situations, as well as the worth human rights situation in Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to read you some stats because it is heartbreaking. What's happening is a country is under collective punishment. The U.N.
says, 97 percent of Afghans live in poverty, 20 million face acute hunger, two-thirds of the population need aid to survive. And this hasn't changed,
in fact it's got worse since I was there in May. And I was just shocked by the level of desperation that I just came across wherever I look. Here's a
little clip of reporting from back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voiceover): Under a scorching sun, standing patiently for hours in organized lines. hundreds of newly poor Afghans wait for their monthly
hand out. Men on one side, women on the other. Here, the U.N.'s World Food Programme is delivering cash assistance, the equivalent of $43.00 per
Khalid Ahmadzai is the coordinator. He says, he seen the need explode. And right from the start, the stories are dire.
KHALID AHMADZAI, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: A few days ago, one woman came to me and she told me that, I want to give you my son by 16,000 afghani. Just
give me the afghani. And he was -- she was really crying. And that was the worst feeling that I had in my life.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Are you serious?
AHMADZAI: Yes, this is a serious thing that we had a distribution at the first day. So the hunger is too much high here.
AMANPOUR: You know, we have heard those stories but I have never heard it - -
AMANPOUR: -- from somebody who's actually seen it.
AHMADZAI: Yes. Yes. Yes, I have seen it. It's too much bad. And it hurts me a lot.
AMANPOUR (voiceover): Everyone we met is hurting. According to the International Rescue Committee, almost half the population of Afghanistan
lives on less than one meal a day. And the U.N. says, nearly 9 million people risk famine-like --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you see, I mean, right there, the most horrendous stories, including a rise in child marriage and you know, forced marriages. We
heard, you know, Professor Nemat say that, you know, they are resisting but how long can they resist?
AMIRI: Yes, the situation is absolutely devastating. And it was made so much worse by the December ban on women working in NGOs. This ended up
completely disabling with the International Community, international organizations on the ground have been trying to do to alleviate suffering.
We are working together with the U.N. to try to do as much as we can. But when you take 50 percent of the population out of the workforce,
particularly those that reach women, those that reach the most vulnerable communities, those that reach women-headed households, you end up putting
that population in a possible situation. And the Taliban did this in the -- at the most difficult time with a harsh winter that Afghans were facing.
It's an indefensible position. And it's one in which the Taliban are inflicting tremendous punishment on a population that deserves so much
AMANPOUR: Yes, and obviously confounding the International Community which doesn't seem to be able to do anything to change it. Well, we'll keep
checking in with you. Rina Amiri, thank you so much, Special Envoy from the State Department.
And finally, tonight, we need a moment of tranquility, quiet contemplation. More, perhaps now than ever. Now, courtesy of a live camera trained on the
beautiful cherry blossoms in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C, we're getting some of it. And that is through the symbolic spring flower which
ushers in a time of renewal that arrived earlier than expected this year after an unusually warm winter.
The National Park Service says, the unpredictable weather scrambled the cherry buds, its regular cycle preventing them from reaching their winter
dormancy. Expert blossom watchers predict peak bloom is coming sometime between now and Saturday.
That's it for this edition. Goodbye from London.