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Matiullah Wesa

Matiullah Wesa


Matiullah Wesa is a prominent Afghanistani human rights defender, advocating for girls’ education rights for over 14 years, including prior to the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Matiullah Wesa is the head of PenPath, a local non-governmental organisation that champions education rights, especially girls’ education. The human rights defender worked to reach the remotest parts of Afghanistan by engaging and collaborating with tribal elders and community leaders to open schools and libraries and by bringing its mobile school and library to remote areas. After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, Matiullah Wesa has been a vocal advocate against the bans on girls’ education and launched a door-to-door campaign on the issue. He is also active on social media.


The continuing lack of security and instability in the country impact negatively on the ability of woman human rights defenders (WHRDs) and human rights defenders (HRDs) to carry out their work. They are subjected to threats, intimidation, harassment, surveillance, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Perpetrators include both state and non-state actors – who act with impunity, knowing that the State lacks the ability and commitment to ensure the safety of defenders and ensure accountability for crimes. Human rights defenders working in remote regions, are at particular risk and vulnerable to attack. Women human rights defenders and those working on the rights of women and girls, are systematically threatened, and attacked – for the work they do, and what they represent. WHRDs are seen as a direct challenge to the status quo. They lack effective protection from the State including police, and face obstacles and threats from within their own communities, state agencies, and extremist groups.