Afghan girls' education advocate is freed from Taliban prison

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have freed an Afghan activist who campaigned for the education of girls, a local nonprofit organization said Thursday. Matiullah Wesa was arrested seven months ago and spent 215 days in prison, according to the group, Pen Path.

Wesa has been outspoken in his demands for girls to have the right to go to school and repeatedly called on the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan to reverse its bans on female education.

Since their takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban have barred girls from school beyond the sixth grade. Last December, they banned women from going to universities. Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education.

Pen Path gave no further details on Wesa’s release or his condition.

Prior to the arrest, Wesa and others from Pen Path launched a door-to-door campaign to promote girls’ education.

“We have been volunteering for 14 years to reach people and convey the message for girls’ education,” Wesa said in social media posts. “During the past 18 months we campaigned house-to-house in order to eliminate illiteracy and to end all our miseries.”

Wesa’s brother Attaullah said Taliban forces surrounded the family home in late March, beat family members, and confiscated Matiullah’s mobile phone.

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