Habib Rahiab

Afghani Human Rights Activist,

Three years ago, Habib Rahiab, an extraordinary Afghan human rights activist, approached Human Rights Watch researchers working in Kabul and offered his help. Although it is uncommon for Human Rights Watch to hire the activists with whom they work, they made an exception for Habib, whose courage and skill in such a challenging environment awed the staff. Habib had directed a school for refugee girls in Pakistan and had headed a human rights documentation group that exposed the oppression of an Afghan ethnic minority, the Hazaras. While assisting Human Rights Watch, Habib assessed the impact of the US invasion of Afghanistan on Afghan civilians. He helped Human Rights Watch expose the mistreatment of detainees held by US forces in Afghanistan before that issue dominated the headlines. He also conducted interviews that demonstrated intensifying oppression by local warlords who were put in power after the Taliban was toppled. Habib’s heroic and tireless efforts to expose human rights abuses in Afghanistan evoked the ire of the warlords, who threatened to kill him. Habib and his family were forced to flee Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch researchers helped resettle Habib and his family in the US, and found refuge and funding for him at Harvard University. Habib looks forward to furthering his education here in the US and to returning one day to Afghanistan.