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Protesting women candidates warn of self-immolation

KABUL (AT News): The frustrated, protesting parliamentary election’s women candidates on Saturday yet again took to the streets, employing a rare method of resistance and political protest by locking themselves inside cages atop two vehicles and traveled through Kabul roads a few kilometers.

The 12 women from various provinces launched their protest three months back against fraud and rigging in the October Wolesi Jirga polls. They set up tents at the gate of the Presidential Palace but police removed their tents.

They want the government to meet their demands and investigate rigging by a special court but their demands are yet to be met. They claim that they hold in their possession some evidence which clearly shows fraud in the previous election.

Today, the failing candidates while having their hands chained and lips sealed and being imprisoned in cages carried symbolic coffins of “Law” and Democracy” for several kilometers in Kabul City.

One of the protesting unsuccessful candidate, Farhmand, said the cages and other acts symbolized the lack of freedom of speech and that they weren’t entitled to their legitimate rights to raise their voice and express objection.

Speaking on behalf of the 12 protesting candidates, Farhmand said, “This movement of ours might last for five years. We might also set ourselves on fire eventually.”

Previously, these women had utilized the act of hunger strike to express their political protest and had their lips sewed.

At around two weeks back, security forces had dismantled and tore their sit-in tents in Zanbaq Square of Kabul city.

Dewa Nizai, a candidate from Nangarhar province, said nobody approached their lawful demands during the past three months.

“We have decided to take these two symbolic coffins to the Presidential Palace gate but we may face resistance from the gate’s guards,” she added.

Arezo Safi, another protesting candidate from Kandahar province, criticized police for not allowing them to hold a sit-in and said: “for this reason, we have to wear black clothes and tie our hands with chains.”

Some of these candidates alleged that the Kabul police had warned them against a suicide attack and told them they should put an end to their protest.

Consistent efforts to have government’s remarks in this regard didn’t succeed.

This comes as the parliamentary election was held on October 20, 2018 and its results were delayed for a few months because of what was called ‘widespread rigging’ – which has been followed by harsh reactions and protests since then.

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