The Taliban Hostage Challenge: how one org is taking this on and what we can learn from that

Dear Imaginers

A new crisis is on the table with the women taken hostage by the Taliban

I wanted to communicate a great example of how some people and organisations are taking on this kind of challenge.

Have a look below at the email that I got in my inbox today, (from and how it carefuly and powerfully presents the challenge, draws you in to the story and shows you exactly how you can contribute AND the potential impact of that contribution.

Of course, I am also asking that you sign the petition (it took me 22 seconds) but have a look and I am pretty sure you will want to do so after reading this below…

But apart from the petition, I think that anyone close to will learn about what it takes to engage poeple. I have heard the founder Ricken Patel speak and he inspired me greatly as to how to go about campaining in general and also how the new technologies have great potential to be used in countries of the south. I think we are often in a state of campaigning about the things we believe about, whether we are an activist or simply someone within an organisation that wants to make something happen and would like to do this with other people.


Dear friends,

23 South Korean aid workers, most of them young women, have just been taken hostage by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, who are threatening to execute them this week. Not only are these aid workers‘ lives at stake, but their execution could trigger a mass evacuation of life-giving humanitarian aid from all of Afghanistan.

The situation is desperate, but there is hope. The Taliban are all from the ‚Pashtun‘ ethnic group, and observe a strict code called Pashtunwali – the „way of the Pashtuns“. This code demands, above all else: „hospitality to all, especially guests and strangers“. There are rumours of infighting among the Taliban over these kidnappings, because they clearly violate the code.

A global outcry for the Taliban to follow their own code would certainly be covered by media in Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Taliban are based – creating more local pressure on them to free their prisoners. But these hostages are living under a 24 hour death sentence. We have seconds not minutes to act. Sign the petition below, forward this email, and let’s report a truly powerful outcry to local journalists:

Pashtunwali has real power among ordinary people in Afghanistan. In 2003 Bettina Goislard, 29, was shot by Taliban gunmen while she was working for the UN High Commission for Refugees in the town of Ghazni, near where the Korean aid workers were kidnapped. Incensed by her murder, local people chased down the gunmen and beat them before handing them over to the police — then they gathered up her body and marched several hundred miles to Kabul to show their sorrow to the world.

Recently, global pressure helped free BBC reporter Alan Johnston from his captivity in Gaza. It can be amazing what happens when we speak together around the world. So let’s try our best, for these 23 young people and their families, and the millions of Afghans who need their aid — With hope,

Ricken, Iain, Graziela, Tom, Paul and the rest of the Avaaz Team
——————– END OF EMAIL

Have a great day,


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