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Afghan-Canadian woman in Taliban captivity following gunpoint arrest

Click to play video: 'Afghan women face bleak future under Taliban rule'
Afghan women face bleak future under Taliban rule
WATCH: Afghan women face bleak future under Taliban rule – Oct 28, 2021

Nadima Noor, an Afghan-Canadian woman who was working on humanitarian aid projects in Afghanistan was arrested and has been held captive by the Taliban since Feb. 13, according to her brother.

Gunmen showed up at the Dream Voice Act office, an NGO Nadima helped found, and demanded she follow them, according to the Washington Post which first reported the story on Monday morning.

“They started brandishing weapons and said, ‘You have to come with us’,” said Dastaan Noor, her brother.

At first, Nadima resisted, according to Dastaan, but relented when the Taliban members threatened to kill her colleagues. Dastaan, who lives in Ottawa, has received regular reports from Nadima’s colleagues who were also arrested.

Eventually, Nadima and her fellow staffers were taken at gunpoint from her Kabul offices and forced into vehicles to the Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for law enforcement in Afghanistan.

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“This doesn’t look good on the government that they picked up a woman, who wanted to stay and make things better. They picked her up with guns and forced her into the car,” Dastaan said.

Nadima’s arrest came as a complete shock to her brother. Before her arrest, the Taliban government had initially allowed her to do TV appearances, travel around the country and even supported her work from a distance after they took power. Some of the Taliban members argued if they should even arrest Nadima because of the good work she was doing, according to her brother.

“She had a letter from one of the ministers there telling her she’s free to move around the country without any problems,” Dastaan said.

“We haven’t gotten any reason as to why she was taken. They were well aware of her cause.”

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The Afghan government collapsed on Aug. 15 when then-president Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan, leading to the Taliban taking control of the country and expelling foreign forces, including Canada. Since taking power, the Taliban has cracked down on foreigners and women, at times forcing them to quit their jobs and depriving them of education.

“The Taliban have imposed rights-violating policies that have created huge barriers to women’s and girls’ health and education, curtailed freedom of movement, expression, and association, and deprived many of earned income,” reads a January report from Human Rights’ Watch, which documents abuses and corruption around the world.

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While many Afghans sought to get out when the Taliban took power, Dastaan said Nadima wanted to stay and fight for women’s rights in the country.

Nadima became popular in Afghanistan for her humorous skits, on her Tesha De Wadday Facebook page, which translates to “What do you want mom” which has 270,000 followers. On her page, Nadima used her comical stories, often containing strong messages to empower women, showcasing Afghan culture and greater calls for freedom.

“She’s very tough. She’s a rebel who cares for her community, for her people,” Dastaan said.

“Nadima wants to bring a sense of normalcy into Afghanistan by positive energy and love.”

Click to play video: 'Fears for future of women in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan'
Fears for future of women in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan

Dastaan added Nadima’s Afghan colleagues were released, but both her and a British colleague remain in captivity, likely due to their status as foreigners.

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“The Ministry of Interior did contact me through WhatsApp and said that we are going to be releasing her the next day — but that didn’t happen,” he said.

Nadima and her family moved to Ottawa as refugees in 1999 after fleeing Afghanistan as the country was in the midst of a civil war. She often travelled back and forth between Ottawa and Kabul for humanitarian efforts, according to Dastaan.

Nadima Noor, an Afghan-Canadian woman was arrested by the Taliban on Feb. 13 and has been held captive ever since. Supplied by Dastaan Noor

While Dastaan is hopeful his sister will be released, he is aware that she may be held captive for a long time.

“It is very possible,” he said.

Dastaan has been in touch with Global Affairs Canada but noted they have little jurisdiction in Afghanistan and pulled all their governmental operations out of the country. Global News reached out to Global Affairs Canada for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

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“It’s been very stressful, very confusing and a roller coaster for me, my family. We don’t know what the outcome will be,” said Dastaan.

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Even if she were released, Dastaan said it’s likely that Nadima will want to stay in Afghanistan and continue to help people there.

“She wants good for the world and she will continue to fight for that.”

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