Fear returns to Kabul streets: A family from London who traveled about a month ago to a wedding in Afghanistan is now stuck in a country that came under Taliban rule, and her car was even taken at gunpoint. “They told me I had to give them the keys. When I said it was my car and not the government’s they said they did not care and attached a gun to my head. I said okay, take it,” Sabrallah Zahiri, the father of the family, told Sky News.
The 11 British citizens attended a wedding held on August 8, including two children aged two and eight. They were due to return to the UK next week along with the two brides who joined the family, but are now unable to find a way out of the country. The family members even photographed the Taliban as they climbed the fences of their home.
Zahiri said he was in touch with the British consulate, where he was instructed to stay put until new instructions were given to him. “I keep trying to call them and they just say – you have to wait, you have to wait, but I do not know how long,” the concerned Zahiri shared. More than 2,000 diplomats and civilians have so far been evacuated from Kabul on military flights, and it is unclear when civilian flights to the country will be resumed.
What are the people of Afghanistan afraid of?
Until 2001, women in the country were placed under house arrest under Taliban rule and were not allowed to work or acquire education. Women and girls were forced to wear a burqa from the age of 8, and women who wanted to leave the house were required to do so accompanied by a close relative. High heels were banned from use, windows that were on the ground or on the first floor were sealed and women were forced to give up even their right to go out on the porch.
The Taliban has banned the display of pictures of women in newspapers, books, shops or homes, the names of “feminine” places have been changed and women have not been heard on radio, television or in public meetings. Women who disobeyed the rules were beaten with sticks in the streets, stadiums and town halls and in some cases even stoned to death for refusing to declare allegiance to the Taliban. In fact, anyone who broke the rules suffered humiliation and public beatings, and executions were a matter of routine.
In a press briefing last night, Taliban leaders said they wanted the world to trust them. A Taliban spokesman claimed that the organization in its current version would preserve women’s rights, but would do so as part of its interpretation of Islamic texts. According to the testimonies coming from the state and the sights of the streets emptied of women, the residents of Kabul and Afghanistan in general where to live in fear.
Meanwhile, Britain has announced that it will increase the number of refugees it will absorb from Afghanistan, and it stands this morning at twenty thousand Afghans. According to Sky News, priority will be given to women and girls as well as to minorities who are at the highest risk of human rights violations and abuse by the extremist organization that controls the country.