A fundraising campaign is underway to help support the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan women cyclists.
The campaign says female riders in Afghanistan are now "desperately" destroying their bikes and gear for fear of being targeted by the Taliban as they conduct door-to-door searches, following their takeover of the country.
The national federation is currently preparing to evacuate tens of female riders and officials over fears for their safety, reports Cycling News.
Afghan cyclist Masomah Ali Zada recently made her Olympic debut in the women's time trial event in Tokyo as part of the Refugee Olympic Team, having claimed asylum in France. Zada was one of many female cyclists able to take part in the sport in the time since the Taliban last ruled in Afghanistan, with the sport flourishing in the past two decades.
At the time of writing more than 250 people have supported the campaign, with over $17,000 raised.
“The women that founded and grew the ‘right to ride’ cycling movement in Afghanistan are among the most prominent athletes in Afghanistan over the past decade. They were nominated as National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, they were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. They have been celebrated and feted by the international community but they have not been supported," the fundraiser's organiser Shannon Galpin said.
"Now they are in hiding, burning their clothing, and scared of reprisals by the Taliban. They are literally burning their future as are many women across Afghanistan who are burning diplomas and other ‘incriminating’ items.
"Here’s how we support the women we have seen in documentaries, in newspapers and magazines, and in museums. We get them out. These women are on evacuation lists but we need to fund their evacuation and their repatriation costs, mental health counseling, and of course once they have a community, bikes. They never wanted this. We have a moral obligation to support them and help them rebuild their lives.”
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