The shocking testimony of an Afghan student to the Guardian
The Taliban, a militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s, have again taken control.
The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, ousting the Taliban insurgents from power. But they never left the region.
After they blitzed across the country in recent days, the Western-backed government that has run the country for 20 years collapsed. Afghans, fearing for the future, are racing to the airport, one of the last routes out of the country.
“The Taliban have taken over the entire country,” Kempfer says.
“The Afghan national forces just melted away. Didn’t put up much resistance at all. The president of Afghanistan fled the country and the Taliban are in charge everywhere.”
He noted that the Taliban are allowing the United States to evacuate their own personnel. There are also some 20,000 to 40,000 Afghan nationals who wish to leave the country because they worked with the U.S. and believe they are in danger.
The evacuation is happening quicker than expected because U.S. planners did not think the Taliban would move in so quickly as U.S. troops withdrew.
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The shocking testimony of an Afghan student to the Guardian: “Now I have to burn what I have been building for 24 years.”
“As a woman, I feel like I am the victim of this political war that men started.”
“Early Sunday morning I was going to university for a class when a group of women ran out of the dormitory. I asked what had happened and one of them told me that the police had evacuated them because the Taliban had arrived in Kabul and they were going to hit as many women who did not have a burqa.
We all wanted to go home, but we could not use public transport. The drivers did not let us get in their cars because they did not want to take responsibility for transporting a woman.
Meanwhile, the men standing around us were laughing and joking with our fear. “Go and put on the burqa,” one shouted. “These are your last days on the streets,” said another. “I will marry four of you in one day,” said a third.
As government offices began to close, my sister ran several miles to return home. “I turned off the computer, left my office in tears and said goodbye to my colleagues. “I knew it was the last day of my job.”
I have received almost two degrees at the same time from the best universities in Afghanistan. I should have graduated in November from the American University of Afghanistan and the University of Kabul, but this morning everything changed before my eyes.
I worked so many days and nights to become who I am today, and this morning when I got home, the first thing my sisters and I did was hide our IDs, diplomas, and certificates. It was catastrophic. Why hide things we should be proud of? In Afghanistan now we are not allowed to be known as the people we are.
As a woman, I feel like I am the victim of this political war started by men. I felt like I could no longer laugh out loud, I could no longer listen to my favorite songs, I could no longer meet my friends at our favorite cafe, I could no longer wear my favorite yellow dress or pink lipstick. And I can no longer go to work or finish university.
I liked to do my nails. Today, as I was going home, I took a look at the beauty salon where I was going for a manicure. The front of the store, which was decorated with beautiful pictures of girls, had been whitewashed.
All I could see around me were the frightened faces of women and the ugly faces of men who hate women, who do not like to be educated, to work and to have freedom. Instead of standing by us, they stand by the Taliban and give them even more power.
The Afghans sacrificed themselves for the little freedom they had. As an orphan I knitted carpets to be able to study. I faced many financial challenges, but I had many plans for my future. I did not expect everything to end like this.
Now it seems that I have to burn everything I have achieved in 24 years of my life. Possessing any identity or award from the American University is dangerous now. Even if we keep them, we are not able to use them. “There are no jobs for us in Afghanistan.”