My darkest day in Afghanistan: “All the books were smeared with blood, the students were dead”

My darkest day in Afghanistan:

Many had expected it. And yet it was a severe shock when on August 15, 2021, the Taliban conquered the Afghan capital Kabul in a lightning offensive and seized power. Since then, nothing has been the same for many people. Any hope for a modern future has been dispelled, especially for the country’s women and girls.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001. After the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the USA, the regime refused to extradite the then al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The USA marched in, expelled the Islamists and from then on supported the government in Kabul, also with a lot of help from Germany.

Twenty years later, the country collapsed before the final departure of the last American soldiers. President-elect Ashraf Ghani fled into exile.

Dramatic scenes at Kabul Airport: Hundreds of people stormed the runway in panic on August 16, 2021 when the first evacuation flights took off.
Dramatic scenes at Kabul Airport: Hundreds of people stormed the runway in panic on August 16, 2021 when the first evacuation flights took off.
© dpa/Uncredited

The AIO Information was able to speak to two people from Afghanistan. August 15, 2021 was by no means the worst cut for her. Their stories show that terror was prevalent before and came with renewed force after this historic date.

attack on students

I had just given them books for the new semester. The next day all the books were smeared with blood and my students were dead.

Fardin Hashimiformer assistant professor at Kabul University

Former head of the Afghan Center for Development Studies and assistant professor at Kabul University, Fardin Hashimireported October 1, 2020:

“At the end of the semester I was invited to a meeting of the professors. But when I arrived, nobody was there. I was about to go back to my driver when I heard gunshots. In the direction of the Ministry of Education, there was a gigantic mess. More than 1000 shots were fired in the first half hour.

At first I thought it was shots at security agencies. But when I got home hours later, I heard that my students had been killed in the attack.

Kabul University Law School has escape routes and steel doors that you can lock to be safe. That’s actually where the lectures for economics were. But just one day before the attack, the fourth year students were transferred to another part of the university that had no security measures.

We had a lecture twice a week, I had just given them books for the new semester – for the future of Afghanistan.

Afghan children attend classes at a school in Fayzabad district, Badakhshan province, July 26, 2023.
Afghan children attend classes at a school in Fayzabad district, Badakhshan province, July 26, 2023.
© AFP/OMER ABRAR

The next day all the books were smeared with blood and my students were dead. Their future lasted barely 24 hours. For me this is unbearable. But how must it be for her parents? I researched it.

This attack was systematically planned. The killers acted cold-blooded and calm. They were not afraid that they would have to be quick (and might be stopped), survivors have reported. Many of these students were the heart of our country, they were the minds that wanted to move Afghanistan forward. This massacre was hardly reported. The world was in Covid terror.”


resistance of women

I would rather die than fall into their hands. So I jumped from the third floor.

Zarmina ParyaniAfghan women’s rights activist on her arrest by the Taliban

The Afghan women’s rights activist Zarmina Paryani was arrested on January 19, 2022. The now 26-year-old, whose family comes from the Panjshir Valley, describes the terror of the jihadists:

“My sisters and I resisted on the streets after the Taliban took power. So that they couldn’t recognize and follow us during our protests, we kept changing the color of our headscarves when we were out and about in Kabul.

In the evenings we always stayed in a hiding place with no light. On January 19, 2022, there was a pounding on the door. We knew it could only be the Taliban. We called the security guard. But there was no answer.

Suddenly there was a group of men in our apartment. I screamed at the sight of her. They looked like animals just out of the wild. I would rather die than fall into their hands. We knew of other women who had been picked up and gang raped.

A beggar sits in front of a bakery in Kabul on July 19, 2022.
A beggar sits in front of a bakery in Kabul on July 19, 2022.
© AFP/DANIEL LEAL

Because of this shame, some were subsequently killed by their families. Women who have been raped cannot find a husband in Afghanistan.

So I jumped from the third floor. But I wasn’t dead so they dragged me into a car. There was a whole company of tanks in front of the house – just because of us, three young activists. As if they wanted to arrest a mafia gang. All the neighbors were scared, nobody helped us.

We filmed the men entering our house and contacted journalists. When they dragged us away with blindfolds and gagged hands, our videos were already online. Did that save us?

Heavily armed Taliban fighters patrol Kabul after taking power.
Heavily armed Taliban fighters patrol Kabul after taking power.
© dpa/AP/Rahmat Gul

We first came to a prison where terrorists used to be imprisoned. My sisters were locked in a different cell than me. That night a group of Taliban tortured my sister for hours: whipped, kicked, beaten. I could hear her screams. She took everything on herself.

After a few days, she fainted. We had to check her pulse. In her hair we found pieces of the waterskins they had hit her with. Her dress was covered in blood and was stuck to her body. The screams of other prisoners accompanied our nights like background music.

The Taliban took away our documents and told us to keep quiet about the prison. After 28 days they handed us over to our families. Our relatives were summoned to a mosque for this purpose. The whole street there was specially cordoned off so that nobody could video the handover.”

Fardin Hashimi and Zarmina Paryani were guests of the German Association for Central Asia in Berlin, where the author documented their stories.

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