The Narrative of the Fall-Part One
Writer: Shamail Zarei
I wrote this bitter story after nine months of severe shock so that one day it will be recorded in my life diary as a reminder of the bitterest black day in history. I do not remember anything from the previous Taliban rule except the name of the Taliban, war, and terror. Exactly twenty-one years ago, I was a young girl who understood neither the meaning of war nor the meaning of peace, living in the most remote and central geography of Afghanistan; I was studying in the most primitive school. I was about 11 or 12 years old when I first took refuge in a mulberry tree branch for fear of hearing the Taliban name, so that my father, who was a teacher, could come home and take me home.
In 2001, the Taliban’s black rule was overthrown, and after the Bonn Conference, a new chapter emerged for the people, especially the women of Afghanistan. Despite all the challenges, the women and people of Afghanistan have made remarkable achievements in all areas of political, social, economic, and cultural life. Afghanistan had gradually been developing and a good opportunity for the advancement of women and girls was prepared, while many problems and wars were going on in all parts of Afghanistan and the main victims of the war were Afghan women and the price of war was innocent people but the Afghan people still had hope for the future.
For twenty-one years, Afghan women have been able to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees, take an active part in the development and liberation of Afghanistan, fulfill their civic responsibilities, and participate in the political, social, and economic spheres as presidential candidates.
I was also one of those women and girls who were able to study for a master’s degree and take an active part in reconstruction, political and social participation, and fulfill my citizenship responsibilities. Like other women fighters in Afghanistan, I fought alongside them and worked for human rights and the fundamental rights of women to ensure a voice of justice and equality in society.
The return of the Taliban
August 15, 2021, is the bitter story of Afghanistan’s history and the worst and bitterest day in history is the return of the Taliban after 2001. Blackness reigned over the people of Afghanistan and created a terrible nightmare for me and millions of Afghan women and girls. After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan; In addition to destroying other achievements, women also completely lost all their achievements. Girls’ schools above the sixth grade have been closed and higher education institutions have reopened in some parts of the country. The right to continue working has been taken away from women, comprehensive restrictions have been imposed on women, and even the greatest and most fundamental human right, which is freedom has been taken from them. Those who raised the voice of justice and whose slogan was Food, Job, Freedom, and political participation were forcibly evicted from their homes and taken to an unknown detention center.
As the world sees: Poverty and hunger threaten the lives of millions of Afghans. Violations of women’s human rights, gender inequality, discrimination, and prejudice against the civil rights of the Afghan people, especially women, are becoming worse every day and freedom of expression has been completely eradicated.
The bitter story of the fall of the provinces :
Three days before the fall of Kabul, there was a meeting of the board of directors of the Afghan Women’s Network, which was attended by members of the board, the network and the network’s executive director, Mari Akrami, and the network’s deputy director.
The meeting focused on the current situation in the provinces of Afghanistan, which were falling one after another. We all raised our concerns because the situation in the provinces was extremely worrying. Mari Akrami raised the issue of the list of active women in the provinces and Kabul and asked the aid agencies to cooperate if god forbid a serious issue arose. “I do not encourage you to leave Afghanistan but if you want, I do not prevent you,” said Ms. Siraj. We went to our houses after the meeting. It was decided to ask for help from the donor institutions if the situation worsens and women’s lives are in danger.
The Women’s Coalition and our Voice For The Future raised their concerns. On August 14, it was decided to hold a meeting through Zoom. Women from all over Afghanistan, politicians, civil society, and all were present. All the provinces of Afghanistan had fallen and the Taliban in the provinces were assigning tasks to women, which was the main topic of the meeting. Ashraf Ghani made a statement in the middle of the meeting, he was very hurried and pale. Attendees at the zoom session were more concerned, I was writing down all the participants’ conversations, and we were all trying to find a way to get women out of the provinces to safety.
Some female politicians present at the meeting said: that Kabul will not fall for another three months, and finally, we all believed that Kabul would not fall. The same day, Tolo News called me to talk about women’s concerns on the 10 a.m. program.
I also promised to come tomorrow. I have always said:” the voice of Afghan women can not be silenced by any power and the women of Afghanistan today are not the same as the women of 21 years ago. I left the office that evening and saw that the situation in the city was not good. I got home at about half-past six and we were all worried, we were watching the news and WhatsApp groups, and social networks and there was fear everywhere.
The terrible scenario on Sunday, August 15 :
At 9 a.m., I called the Network, the Network colleagues were all in the office, I moved to the network, and I took a taxi. I had approached Karte Parvan, which was a lot of traffic and the traffic was getting heavier every moment. The situation seemed abnormal. As far as I could see, people were running from all directions. “The Taliban have come and run away,” one terrified man told me.
I was confused and panicked from head to toe. I also ran with the people who ran and fled in fear. I could not speak due to fear and fatigue. My tears were flowing when I reached Kote_Sangi. Terrified people closed markets and shops and fled. Women were told to go home as soon as possible. Everyone was running, helping old women who could not run. I saw young girls running in their bushes, and young children running away from schools. It was like a terrible nightmare that day. When I got home, I was pale. I cared for family members and others were home, but my sister Sabera, a law student at Kabul University, went to university. I tried to call but their number was off. I was exhausted until my sister came back half an hour later. We were all shocked, so disappointed that it was as if we had lost everything we had. I could not rest even for a moment. Like my other compatriots, all my achievements and aspirations were destroyed in an instant.
My little sister Hamideh had a nervous breakdown and her legs were paralyzed. My two-year-old niece, Sana, is also shocked and does not speak or eat. When she sleeps, she has nightmares. My brother, like the rest of our compatriots, had gone to the airport with his family. When they returned home, my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew Hamza said, “We went to America, there was a war, we came back.” The two-and-a-half-year-old had experienced war and terror with his own eyes and ears.
No one dared to go shopping because the city of Kabul had become a panic. I was shocked for six days and nights, I did not eat, I did not talk, and I did not even know where I was. I just closed the door of my room and cried out loud for the dreams and hardships I had endured and fought for twenty years.
The city of Kabul was silent and the future was razed to the ground
The face of Kabul had changed, I could see through the media how horrible it was in Kabul, and the nights were spent in terror. On the other hand, due to the evacuation process, the sky of Kabul was not calmed by the sound of the plane for a moment. The situation at Kabul airport was tearful. Men and women were trying to reach the airport. Men even boarded the wings of an American plane to escape the Taliban and fell off the plane. In those days, we were the headlines of the darkest days and the bitterest news in the world.
The media was completely censored. Nothing was published except the face of the Taliban and the hot news of the crisis of the Afghan people. The beautiful face of Kabul had become a silent and terrifying city. Kabuli men and women did not even leave their homes for the first few days. After a while, the men dared to leave their homes, and the face of Kabul became completely masculine. After a long time, the women also came out and participated in a protest rally.
Lowering the tricolor flag of my country and raising the flag of the terrorist Taliban :
The day the three-color flag of Afghanistan was lowered, I thought I was dying for my last breath, my eyes were blinded by crying, my soul and spirit were dead, and my heart was burning. Colorful Kabul had become the saddest city in the world. There were tears on the faces of every Afghan and even the birds of Kabul were sad. The tricolor flag of our country was a symbol of pride and dignity, it was no longer seen anywhere in Kabul and it was the biggest pain I felt, it squeezed my throat and like a hard bite that did not fall down my throat and it was the biggest pain that I and all our compatriots were enduring.
To be continued…
Translated by: Ali Rezaei