This webinar tells the story of the daring rescue mission and evacuation of women judges from Afghanistan, conducted in August 2021 by the Polish Special Forces. For the first time, you will hear the backstory of this daring rescue, how it happened, how the Afghans felt, and what is occurring now. It is a story about how new technologies can change the course of events and how one tweet can make a difference. Finally, it is a story of human solidarity, hope, and old-fashioned human decency.
In August 2021, the Taliban returned to power and the last US military aircrafts were leaving Kabul. As a result, after 20 years of relative safety, the legal profession came immediately under a threat. The situation was of great concern to judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in Afghanistan, especially to women judges, who have struggled to establish themselves as independent judges in an environment which was hostile to them even before the Taliban takeover. For the Taliban, however, these women were a symbol of women’s independence, education, and strength. Many of these judges have jailed Taliban fighters for serious offenses involving terrorism and violence toward women during their tenure as judges. These prisoners were immediately released from prison by the incoming Taliban authorities. Even before the Taliban coup, two women judges were killed in attacks committed by “unknown perpetrators.” A number of women judges were receiving death threats and threats of violence, which forced them to move from place to place to avoid capture by the Taliban. They have lost their livelihoods and their homes and were in danger of losing their lives too.
At the same time, by virtue of their positions, the women judges were not involved or known to many foreign states conducting airlift operations. That meant that no state considered itself obligated to assist them in a hasty evacuation.
The country that responded to the dire situation of the Afghan women judges was Poland, which at the time was conducting its own evacuation mission. Polish Military forces were part of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, and they primarily were involved in helping to evacuate Afghans who worked with the Polish embassy in Kabul and those Afghans who worked with various non-governmental organizations, the International Monetary Fund, and NATO. Poland has organized forty-four flights between Kabul and Warsaw, with stopovers in Uzbekistan and Georgia. They transported more than one thousand and two hundred Afghans, in addition to several Poles and people of other nationalities.
Thanks to one tweet by a brave young Afghan judge, a kind and daring Polish female lawyer who understood the danger and decided to do something about it, as well as due to the dedication of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the Polish Special Forces, the evacuation mission was carried out.
As a result, a group of women judges, lawyers, and prosecutors together with their families (almost 90 persons in total) arrived safely in Poland.
These rescued Afghan judges and lawyers are currently supported by a group of Polish lawyers, Polish judges, and various Polish NGOs. They are also supported financially by a comprehensive program of the Polish government.
To see the video of the event and the rescue operation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GerYpvNkc1o&t=363s
OPERATION L booklet.pdf