24 September 2021
Senator Dan Sullivan
Senator Tom Cotton
International Republican Institute
1225 I (Eye) Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
Dear Senators Sullivan and Cotton,
My name is Daizy Maan, and I am writing to you about a former IRI Freedom Award winner, currently stuck in Afghanistan. I am a concerned Punjabi Australian and passionate about empowering Indian and South Asian women. I voluntarily lead the grassroots non-profit Australian South Asian Centre (ASAC), which focuses on empowering South Asian women in Australia and across the world. We are self-funded through our funds some donor funds, and our work appears in SBS World News in 2021.
I am also an alum of Australia India Youth Dialogue – the pre-eminent track-two young ‘leaders’ dialogue between Australia and India. I, alongside my dedicated team, have led entrepreneurship programs for Deakin University in Australia for five years, creating 100’s of jobs and empowering thousands of Australia’s future leaders. I have engaged with several entrepreneurship leaders who are US citizens and have families in the US through these organizations. One of my mentors is Doug Bushée, founder of CORE Foundation based in Virginia and a Director at the US-based Gartner. Doug has been a mentor of mine for five years now, and ASAC has a partnership with CORE Foundation who supports us. Nikki is another US citizen in Australia who I’ve engaged with through my startup work.
In 2006 John McCain, former Chairman of International Republican Institute, invited Saima Khogiani to receive recognition alongside First Lady Laura Bush at the Freedom Awards. At the ceremony, former IRI president, Lorne Craner, recognised ‘Saima’s work and invited her to stand to a round of applause. President Craner stated, “women like Saima now have the task of building democracy…when the Taliban banned education for girls, Saima began teaching them in her own home.” As an MP, she often expresses her strong optimism in her ‘country’s future…IRI continues to work with Saima through our assistance of a coalition of independent parliamentarians. They and Saima are proving to be a force for a forward-looking Afghanistan.”
Saima has reached out to me, and I have been in touch with her almost daily. Unfortunately, Saima, her husband, and her five children are still in Afghanistan (ages 6 – 12 years old). Her health is deteriorating rapidly, and I would like to request your help in expediting her case. She has family and former colleagues in Australia, and I can assure you they will be able to take care of her financially so she will be no burden. She will be a national asset, a woman of her skill and dedication is someone I, as an Australian citizen, would like to have in our country. I have a further 75 women and children on my list whose documents I have cited and can assure you are no security threat to our country.
I have been in touch with several NGO leaders in the US who are working around the clock on land evacuation efforts. I have also spoken to leaders in Pakistan in Punjabi who are willing to provide safe housing so long as it is temporary
I request that you contact the Australian government to expedite all of these cases so they can resettle in Australia with no further delay as their life is in grave danger. Please feel free to have your office contact me with any questions.
Doug Busheé, ASAC Advisory Board Member
Nikki Ricks, Mentor, Australian South Asian Centre