NJPN Blog: Voices from Afghanistan

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Volunteers distribute oil and rice in Bamiyan after Taliban takeover

For over 13 years, Afghan Peace Projects, formerly Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK, visited and supported a group of young people leading community projects in Kabul. They provided jobs for poor women and education for street children and participated in direct actions such as a gender-neutral bike ride and a football team without borders.

They were dispersed “from East to West”, some remained in Afghanistan, others fled to Europe and neighboring countries. Using Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, they sent these updates and thoughts.

This month, the British government opened its resettlement program to Afghan citizens. They say they will prioritize “people who are at particular risk from the Taliban, for example because of their stance for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, sexuality or their religion”. However, it is not so easy for our friends to take advantage of this visa system. Passports, flights and visas have to be obtained on the black market which is extremely expensive. If you travel to Pakistan illegally, you risk being prevented from leaving.

Since the Taliban took over, daily life itself has become dangerous.

Nahal writes from Kabul:

“The situation here is getting worse for us every day. When I see every day women who are raising the voice of freedom and peace being held hostage, when I see one of these Taliban on the street, I have the feel like they’re going to shoot me. There are announcements every day that they [ex Afghan Jihadi groups] import firearms by helicopter at night into the provinces. At the end of March, the war will begin again.

Abdul writes,

“I’m worried about my future. I wish I could finish my studies, but currently I can’t. There is no hope for a better and brighter future for me in Afghanistan. I don’t feel safe : the Taliban are searching my house by my house looking for people who have worked with foreigners.”

Community activists and volunteers with ties to the West feel their lives are in danger. Ramineh, hidden in Kabul, cannot leave the house to find money, buy food or fuel. She is now desperate to leave.

“Last night the Taliban killed my friend Zahra. The savages shot her in the heart. They could attack me at any time and kill me like my friend Zahra. Now Afghanistan is not a safe place for me.”

In Afghanistan, Ahmad was so worried he couldn’t leave the house. At any time, the Taliban could arrest him and ask him for documents. Not saying anything was just as dangerous. Now safe in Germany, preparing to start a new life, Ahmad writes of his anxiety about having to leave his mother and siblings behind.

“It’s so hard for me to wonder what will be the situation for my mother now that she is unemployed and cannot work outside the home at the moment because of the data bank of Taliban. If you are a woman, they don’t allow you to work outside.”

Maryam was the first in her village to go to university. Her family has also been dispersed while her mother remains in Afghanistan.

“My heart is crying inside of me. I really can’t describe my feelings these days. I feel like if I could go back to my mom and cry with her, maybe it would help [alleviate the sadness]. Maybe if I could be with her, she would feel for a moment that she’s not alone, her kids don’t have to leave her alone.”

Maryam and her husband, along with many others, are in Pakistan from where they hope to obtain visas for countries from which they will not be deported, such as Somalia, Albania, Brazil, Portugal. Maryam writes about the conditions in Quetta, where many Hazara refugees have fled, where they have to live in hiding, often having to move and covering their faces.

“Our blood is red, our hearts work the same, our eyes work to see each other’s eyes, to touch each other’s feelings, we relate to each other, we live in the same world, we share the same sky, our basic need to be alive is to breathe, I believe there are no borders between humans.”

“If women have the chance to work and make decisions in Afghanistan, they will not let any of their children die or join the army. Women can show life, peace and love. They just share their kindness and their love with humans. If women could be educated, they could improve the lives of women, children and men, and create a green land to live on without war or murder.”

“Please don’t forget the women, they are very nice.”

I am extremely grateful to the friends who sent these messages. The intention here is to paint a picture of the tragic disruption that perpetual war and forced migration cause to people’s normal lives and families.

Afghan peace projects: https://afghanistanpeaceproject.co.uk

All names have been changed.

Keywords: NJPN Blog, Henrietta Cullinan, Afghan Peace Projects, Afghanistan

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