Wednesday, August 10

AK, Afghan asylum seeker in Spain: “Sometimes I think I have to go back for my family, but they will kill me”

AK has been saddened by the news from Afghanistan for months now. “Every day I woke up with the fall of a district [a manos de los talibanes], the increase in violence … Always bad news, “he says with a dead voice.” It’s very painful. “The situation worsened on August 12, when it was the turn of Herat, his city, where his mother lives. , his sister and his brother. AK froze. “It’s like he can’t feel anything.”

“I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I think I have to go back, but I’m almost sure that if I go back, they will kill me. It’s like suicide. I can’t do anything and I feel bad because I left my family there,” says the young man. 27 years old. AK is in regular contact with them, although now he says he is afraid that this could endanger them.

In her messages, her 23-year-old sister, a university student, tells her: “I don’t feel safe here. Not only am I afraid of losing my right to an education forever, but I’m afraid that something worse will happen to me. Even the image scares me. of the Taliban shown on television. I don’t want to be imprisoned by them for the rest of my life. I desperately want to get out of here. I hope I can get out before they start house-to-house searching for people with ties to the West. ”

Waiting answer

AK lives in Spain, where he has applied for asylum and is awaiting a response from the authorities. He studied History at the University of Herat and came for the first time in 2017 in the framework of a student program. Later he returned to his country, wrote a book about his experience in religious schools –‘Afghanistan, a republic of silence: memories of an Afghan student’-, and returned to Spain in November 2020, where he studied a master’s degree in International Relations.

“I am 100% sure that if I go back after publishing the book and the Taliban find out, they will kill me. Even with the other democratic governments they would accuse me of blasphemy, which is a crime. I do not plan to return and I am very worried about my family. “, He says.

AK does not want to give his full name or the city in which he resides for fear of reprisals and in order not to facilitate the identification of his family in Herat.

In addition, during the time he was in Afghanistan, before returning to Spain, he worked as a professor at the university and at an institute. “Many people knew me, especially from the articles I published in a local newspaper criticizing the role of women. madrasas when promoting religious extremism. In addition, in the last five years I have spoken openly against the Taliban, “he says.

AK was raised to become a Muslim clergyman and studied in various madrasas. It was a decision imposed by his father that he never agreed with. “The book is the story of my experience within religious schools and how I went from being a student in a madrasa to leaving Islam. It is a basic right in many countries, but in Afghanistan it is a crime. Stories of sexual abuse also appear. within schools, “he says.

All of this places him in a particularly vulnerable position vis-à-vis the Taliban, the fundamentalist group that has just seized control of the country.

“My mother is illiterate, she knows that many things have changed, but she still does not understand the scope of the tragedy. But my sister tells me that there are no women on the streets because they are afraid. Those who tried to go to university the first day, they were not allowed. ” Her sister attends a private university in the city, but now they are all closed, she says. 56% of the students at the University of Herat are women.

This Tuesday, the Taliban have offered a press conference in which they have ensured that women will be able to work and study within the framework allowed by the sharia. However, they have not yet announced concrete measures in this regard. They have also given interviews to female journalists on television, a medium that totally banned when they first seized power between 1996 and 2001.

“They have never shown regret for what they have done, including the killing of 8,000 Hazara people. [a la que pertenece A. K.] in a northern province in 1998 or the executions of women on soccer fields. They have not changed, “he denounces.” The US special envoy who carried out the negotiations said that they have changed, but it is a lie. The US has given the Taliban a lot of recognition and now the Afghan people are under a terrorist group and the US is responsible. ”

The young asylum seeker claims that both his mother and sister have tried to leave the country. “My mother is illiterate and needs to be in a place similar to her lifestyle and we think of Iran, but they closed her consulate in Herat,” he says. “I at least tried to get my sister out by inviting her to Spain, but with the documents I have, I can’t. Besides, it’s too late because the road to Kabul is controlled by the Taliban and the Herat airport is closed. We want them to leave. out of the country as soon as possible, but we haven’t made it. They have nowhere to go. ”

AK defends the US intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow the fundamentalists, but believes that a lot of mistakes have been made, “especially the accord [de febrero de 2020 con los talibanes]”.” The US knew that the Taliban have ties to al Qaeda and still reached an agreement with them. Based on the agreement, they forced the Government to release 5,000 prisoners, who returned to their jihad against the Executive “. A recent UN report certifies that relationship existing between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

“It is clear that the international community has already abandoned Afghanistan. The current situation is that the Taliban are saying something reassuring to the world in front of the media, but people on the ground see how brutal they are,” he says.