By Malo Lila.
I am a journalist and women’s rights activist in Afghanistan. It has been many, many months since the occupation of Afghanistan by the terrorist Taliban. On 8 March, the world observes International Women’s Day. As an Afghan woman today, I want this year and this century to be remembered for Afghanistan’s women, history must write about their courageous acts. Women who stood against the most petrified and savage terrorist group in the world. Women who have proved that the taboos of a male-dominated and religious society can no longer prevent their presence in society. Justice-seeking women who have been oppressed and terrorized in their own country have raised their voices for the world.
The heroic women of my country, despite facing the threat of their lives, still did not remain silent, and they did not hesitate to show the world the dark situation and the crisis of their place in their country in any legitimate way.
On 15 August 2021 the terrorist group, after 20 years of fighting with government forces and Foreigners in Afghanistan revived their “Islamic Emirate” that was overthrown by the US in October 2001. Taliban forces entered Kabul with two weeks left until the deadline for the full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The Sunday morning of 15 August 2021 is day that I will never forget, as I woke up, got ready and went to work the atmosphere was quite different from the other days. Around 11 o’clock before noon the Taliban forces entered Kabul from several directions without the slightest resistance. The day before, the last video message of the then President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani about the security of Kabul was broadcast on national television, but on Sunday evening, Ashraf Ghani the former president fled abroad and left the country and his nation alone.
Today, more than two hundred days after that dark day, I think we were abandoned. On the same day, Al Jazeera television broadcast images of the Arg showing Taliban members entering the presidential palace. On Monday, 16 August 2021, the staff of the western embassies left the green area of Kabul by helicopters. The US embassy in Kabul was emptied , the US flag was lowered from the embassy, and embassy staff were airlifted to Kabul airport.
The same day people were falling to their deaths in Afghanistan after trying to save their lives by sitting inside of the wheel to get to safety. Imagine if this were you and you were so afraid of dying a horrible death that you preferred to take a chance on dying this way? The world was a mess.
Two days after the Taliban took control of Kabul, the group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, appeared for the first time at a news conference in Kabul and announced a general amnesty. A few days later, fugitive President Ashraf Ghani posted a video on his Facebook page explaining his escape, saying it was aimed at preventing Afghans from shedding blood.
Six thousand US troops and about a thousand NATO troops began evacuation operations at Kabul airport. A powerful bomb blast struck the perimeter of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday, 27 August 2021, as civilians continued to seek to escape on flights from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. At least 200 people were killed and 150 others wounded in the bomb attack. The Pentagon confirmed 13 US service personnel were among those killed. The bombing came hours after Western governments had warned their citizens to stay away from the airport, because of an imminent threat of an attack by IS-K, the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State group.
A few days after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, women staged massive protests in various cities in Afghanistan. The women of my country made history. Several demonstrations escalated into violence, including the killing of two protesters in Herat by the Taliban. However, the number of protests decreased after the Taliban outlawed any kind of demonstration without coordination with the Taliban. A number of journalists were also subjected to violence during the recent protests.
It has been too long since women have been deprived from exercising their rights to pursue an education. They have banned young girls over 12 from attending schools and banned many women from going to the public university. Any kind of education is a basic human right, and one of the most powerful tools in empowering women, that has been denied.
Following the protests Taliban were arresting women rights activists and the continued until they forced them not to protest. Maybe hell is a better place than living under the rule and terror of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Dignity, values, human rights, freedom, education, job, language, dreams, hopes…. Everything is being robbed from everyone, with everyday passing.
The Taliban announced their caretaker cabinet on 7 September 2021, headed by Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund, as prime minister. The members of the Taliban cabinet are mostly figures of the previous regime in 1990 and new commanders. Among the Taliban cabinet ministers Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s interior minister, who is “at the highest level wanted” by US federal police. The FBI website recently increased the “information that led to his arrest” award from $ 5 million to $ 10 million.
In observance of International Women’s Day, I ask a question from all the women of the world who consider themselves true defenders of women’s rights. I, Malo Lila, have dedicated the last twenty years of my life to study, work , and serve my community, Do I deserve to live under Taliban rule? I lost all my basic rights during these past months, and how painful it is that the whole world forgot all these things in the blink of an eye.
But I have not forgotten my twenty years of achievements, which has been reduced to rubble. I will not forget these many months of struggles; the struggle to survive, the struggle for my basic rights, and finally the struggle to leave my country for a better future. Like all human beings and women and other free people, I have the right to live a better life. We will rise and shine again. Happy International Women’s Day!
This article was first posted in March 2022.