ISLAMABAD (AP) — An Afghan rights activist who has campaigned for girls’ education has been arrested in Kabul, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said Matiullah Wesa, founder and president of Pen Path — a local nongovernmental group that travels across Afghanistan with a mobile school and library — was arrested in Kabul on Monday.
Local reports said Taliban security forces detained Wesa after his return from a trip to Europe.
The U.N. urged authorities in Kabul to clarify Wesa’s whereabouts, reasons for his arrest and ensure his access to legal representation and contact with family. There was no immediate word from the Taliban on the arrest.
Since their takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban have imposed restrictions on women’s and minority rights. Girls are barred from school beyond the sixth grade and last year, the Taliban banned women from going to university.
Wesa has been outspoken in his demands for girls to have the right to go to school and learn, and has repeatedly called on the Taliban-led government to reverse its bans. His most recent tweets about female education coincided with the start of the new academic year in Afghanistan, with girls remaining shut out of classrooms and campuses.
The U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, said he was alarmed by Wesa’s detention.
“His safety is paramount & all his legal rights must be respected,” Bennett tweeted.