The music fades, views disappear under burqas and turbans. “I’m afraid for my family”
Photo: ALIL REZAYEE / EPA / PAP
If I had given my real data and showed my face on TV, it would have been very easy for me to be in their crosshairs. The Taliban do not allow educated people to criticize their actions. You shouldn’t talk to the media, domestic or foreign, without their consent, says Azim, an Afghan living in the east of the country, near the border with Pakistan. Together with his wife and a few-year-old daughter, they plan to flee their homeland.
Countries all over the world are anxiously looking towards Afghanistan. The activities of diplomatic missions in this country were suspended, foreigners and those Afghans who had been supporting embassies and military missions for years were hastily evacuated. However, thousands of ordinary people have been left to fend for themselves. They do not have the strength of foreign powers behind them, and they are in no less danger. Therefore, on their own, they try to find a way to leave. Among them is Azim. When we talk for the first time, he pauses for a moment filling out immigration papers. As he says himself, he simply sees no other choice but to leave his homeland.
Azim: I cannot stay in a country where there is no freedom of speech, I do not feel safe criticizing the mistakes of those in power. Moreover, there is no job security or even the protection of basic human rights. The worst is women’s rights and girls’ education. Therefore, the only option for me and my family is to leave the country.
Katarzyna Turos: The previous Taliban rule is not a distant past for you. Do you remember anything from that time?
Yes, but a bit like a fog. I was only a few years old then. Their regime was mostly coercive. They forced men to grow beards and wear turbans, and women to wear burqas and sit around the house. They were allowed only to go out with male caretakers from the family. Music, movies, sports events – it was all forbidden. In addition, there have been many controversial changes to the core curriculum in schools. Progressive sciences were deleted, and their place was taken by subjects expanding knowledge about our religion (Islam – ed.).
Do you remember any memory exceptionally?
The wearing of turbans was also compulsory for students. I remember one day I didn’t put it on because it hadn’t dried after washing yet. A Taliban officer then came to the school to check compliance with the rules. He noticed me and asked why I didn’t have a turban. I was very scared because I knew I might be flogged for it. I cried when I explained what had happened. Fortunately, my classmates interceded, who confirmed that this was an exception for me. Thanks to this, I was able to avoid punishment.
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