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Hope in Turmoil

Years of hope. Years of work and toil all spilled at the feet of the man from Kandahar for nothing.

Afghanistan: Hope in Turmoil

Written by Mohammed and Nargis

Years of hope. Years of work and toil all spilled at the feet of the man from Kandahar for nothing.

The Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamist movement akin to ISIS and Al Qaeda, took over Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, in August of 2021; life has never been more miserable.

Many had initial hopes that the movement would reform and moderate after seizing power, abandoning many of the extremist creeds that restrict the lives of women and minorities in Afghanistan. Yet the Taliban has done the exact opposite, doubling down on their oppression.

Schools were re-opened after the wars ended, but not for women seeking secondary education; the same happened to universities. It’s not that women’s exclusive educational institutions were closed, but women were barred from seeking any education beyond the primary level. On top of that, women were barred from traveling without a male companion more than 75 kilometers, with the risk of even that being taken away. (1)

Women cannot get employed or provide for themselves and their families without relying on men for security, resources, food, and permission. The women of Afghanistan cannot access medical care vital for their survival due to the lack of resources on one hand and the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s care and health on the other. (2

The resilient women of Afghanistan cannot even show their face, hands, feet, or any part of their body for being “promiscuous” and “seducing” to the gaze of the Taliban. Not only have all forms of make-up been banned for women, but the entire body must be covered inside the linings of a black dress, covering the entirety of their bodies with only a small slit for the eyes. Right now, it’s two eyes, but Taliban officials have alluded to changing the ruling to one eye only. (3)

The Ban on make-up has also affected women’s lively hoods, as beauty salons were ordered to be closed within a month on July 11th, pushing countless men and women in the practice into certain poverty with no compensation and putting an extra obstacle to the most basic forms of expression for women. (3`)

The free and cultured women of Afghanistan have been turned, by this Islamist takeover of the entire country, into dark invisible prisoners in their own nation. Unable to travel to different cities without a man, provide for their own upkeep and life, or express themselves in the tiniest way, they aren’t allowed to show the mouth they speak with because they aren’t allowed to speak at all. (2)

Those women brave to disobey, rebel, or mutiny in the most mundane of acts, such as merely attending a public park in broad daylight while wearing the dark dresses and veils forced by the Taliban, are punished with the most severe public humiliations and harm, as the Taliban reinstituted public floggings and executions in multiple cities. (2)

The women of Afghanistan have been forcefully enslaved, and that enslavement has fallen on deaf ears. The international community continues to withhold enormous amounts of Afghan finances which only pushes the country into more poverty and more repression, punishing the very nation whose aims are so aligned with the outside world while having a negligible impact on the Taliban. (4)

The Taliban’s violence didn’t stop at imprisoning half the population, as they’ve started slaughtering another part of it. 

Afghanistan has long been blessed with diversity, confining, inside its borders, a wide array of ethnoreligious groups that build up the nation’s unique identity. However, as the Taliban seek to shape a new identity for the country in their own fundamentalist vision, they push a monoethnic policy of exclusion, harassment, and genocide for Afghan minorities along with a Pashtun supremacist agenda.

The Taliban are mostly made up of Pashtuns, which are the country’s largest ethnoreligious group, making up almost half of the population; after their seizure of power, they have done everything possible to exclude minorities from places of power and education and alienate them in their own nation.

Minorities, such as Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Balochs, and others, have been banned from participating in many government offices. Their jobs in universities and schools can be stripped away at any minute; these Afghanis are second-class citizens simply because they are not Pashtuns.

None have been more affected than the Hazara people of central Afghanistan, who’ve been undergoing a series of genocides and persecutions dating back to the 1890s and the foundation of the Afghan state. (5) The Hazara have suffered genocide under former Afghan Emirates, and that genocide only resumed in 2021 when the Taliban’s Emirate was established. Taliban leaders and officials have expressed genocidal attitudes towards the 

Hazara. Some of them have gone as far as calling for their complete extermination and genocide, like Mullah Manan Niazi, a Taliban leader. 

In the year following the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul, at least 700 Hazaras have been killed in deliberate attacks by the Taliban, coming in the forms of bombings and executions, and the number has only increased since. (5)

The attacks against the Hazara by the Taliban constitute an ethnic genocide, as the attacks do not discriminate between ages or genders. The Hazara community is being targeted, with at least an extra 500 innocents dying as a result of 14 consecutive bombing attacks. Apart from bombing attacks, Hazaras are typically stopped and killed in the street, taken out of their cars, and their property seized; the Taliban even denies their identity as Muslims. (6)

The Taliban and their extremist vision are the gravediggers of a bright Afghan future, and it is up to the Afghan people to face them. 

As for us, seekers of justice for People and Art alike, we can help and support the Afghan people by listening to their troubles and catastrophes and spreading the word about the situation in their country.

The media blackout on Afghanistan must end so that the innocent don’t suffer in silence.

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