We are gravely concerned at the threat to the safety and security of librarians and archivists resulting from the change of regime in Afghanistan. They have dedicated their professional lives to serving the people and institutions of Afghanistan and we call on the new regime to guarantee their ability to carry out their professional duties without threat or coercion.
Of particular concern is the place of women librarians and archivists. They are a key part of the profession in Afghanistan, and are vital to encourage women to make use of library and archival services and to ensure that they feel safe to do so. They must be allowed to return to their institutions, and continue to work without any barriers.
The integrity of the public record as well as the safety and intellectual freedom of the civilian population are pre-requisites of any Nation State that aspires to legitimacy or credibility within the international community.
Libraries and archives are essential for the health of any society and for the wellbeing of a country’s citizens. We expect the authorities in Afghanistan to support libraries and archives and to enable the staff who are employed in those institutions to be able to undertake their work in complete safety, allowing them to perform their roles unhindered, and with levels of funding and other infrastructure maintained.
Furthermore, we expect the Afghan authorities to comply with their international obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property, and its protocols, as well as the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
The library and archive community in the UK will work together with colleagues internationally to offer whatever support we can to our colleagues in Afghanistan.