Ellwood, chairman of the House of Commons Defense Committee, has received backlash from politicians and activist groups for ignoring the collapse of women’s rights in Afghanistan. The Tory MP called on the UK to reopen its embassy in Kabul, saying that since the Taliban took power in 2021 “security has improved significantly, corruption has fallen and the opium trade has all but disappeared “.
Glasgow Afghan United chief executive Abdul Bostani has invited Ellwood to travel to Scotland to meet with members of Glasgow’s Afghan community and hear their concerns about their country’s current situation under the Taliban. The group’s letter ended with a message to the MP: “We look forward to welcoming you to our offices in Glasgow at a time of your choosing.”
According to Bostani, Ellwood’s comments have “raised serious concern and even anger within the Scottish Afghan community, many of whom have been forced to flee their homeland as a direct result of the Taliban threat.”
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The letter, which also thanked Ellwood for his interest in Afghanistan, also said: “You cannot be so ignorant of Afghanistan’s recent history that you do not know that the Taliban are responsible for countless violent attacks on civilians in mosques were responsible. markets and more.
“There is not a single member of our skilled and talented community who does not have loved ones remaining in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. They fear for their friends and family; in many cases they fear for their lives.”
Bostani writes: “Mr. Ellwood, I urge you to consider the broader implications of your testimony and to reconsider your decision. Even tacit support for the Taliban can have dangerous consequences, enabling repressive regimes in other countries to act with impunity.”
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Glasgow Afghan United is a charity that supports Afghans living in Glasgow, from providing English language skills to mental health support and community building. The letter describes the long-term support needs of the Afghans it serves, resulting from the trauma they have experienced, as “made worse for many by the stress they have dealing with their parents, siblings, cousins and even care for children who are trapped by a regime that only cares about power and its narrow agenda.”
Charities and human rights organizations are increasingly concerned about the status of women in Afghanistan, as the Taliban have banned women from attending universities, working, visiting parks and gyms, among other rights restrictions.
Ellwood, who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the British Army and served as Defense Secretary, has since deleted the video and apologized. He explained that the comments “could have been worded better” and that he “made a mistake.”
Four members of the defense committee have now tabled a motion of no confidence in Ellwood as chairman. This is the first time the motion has been used against a select committee chair since the positions began being elected in 2010.