ST. PAUL — Minnesota's two U.S. senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both Democrats, have signed a letter alongside 44 Senate colleagues urging the Biden administration to protect Afghan women leaders now in peril as the Taliban seizes control of Afghanistan.
In their Monday, Aug. 16, letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, the senators wrote that they are "gravely concerned about the safety of women" in Afghanistan who may be targeted by the Taliban for their humanitarian, government or media work, and urged the administration to streamline the process for "fast, humane, and efficient relocation to the United States."
Later, on Wednesday, Aug. 18, Klobuchar announced that her Senate office will be offering assistance to American citizens and Afghan allies attempting to evacuate.
“Our immediate priority in Afghanistan must be ensuring we are doing everything possible to evacuate American citizens and help our Afghan allies," Klobuchar said in a Wednesday news release. "If you or a loved one in Afghanistan is in need of assistance, please contact my office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org."
The senators in their Monday letter went on to write that their offices are receiving "regular reports regarding the targeting, threatening, kidnapping, torturing, and assassinations of women for their work defending and promoting democracy, equality, higher education, and human rights." They said the reports they have received include accounts of war crimes, summary executions, public beatings and flogging of women, sexual violence, forced marriages and more.
The letter came one day after the Taliban seized Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul, solidifying their takeover of the country as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The takeover comes after the U.S. military withdrew from the country, a move that President Joe Biden says he stands behind.
The senators are urging the Biden administration to expedite evacuations and establish a special humanitarian parole category specifically for women leaders, activists, parliamentarians, journalists and members of the military who are at greater risk of targeted violence.