Friday, September 24

Nazifa Yusuf Bek, Afghan MP: “We were going to be evacuated, but now that possibility has disappeared”

Nazifa Yusuf Bek, until recently a deputy for the province of Tajar (northeast Afghanistan) in the Afghan Parliament, her voice breaks on the phone when she is asked about the double suicide attack perpetrated this Thursday, it is believed that by the Afghan branch ( ISIS-K) of the jihadist group at the Kabul airport. At least 110 people, including thirteen US Marines, were killed in the deadly attack, which also injured more than 150.

“It was almost six in the afternoon. We had been at the airport since three in the afternoon on Wednesday, just as our contacts from the NGO that were going to help us leave the country had asked us. We were going to be evacuated this Thursday for the night, but that possibility has disappeared “, laments the parliamentarian. In the background you can hear the cries of two of her three children (nine, seven and three years old). “They are still in a state of shock. The little one has not slept at all all night,” he adds.

Frustrated hopes

Shortly before three in the afternoon on Wednesday, the deputies received the following email from the staff of the organization for aid and women’s rights Medica Mondiale, based in Berlin, which did heed his call for help. Except for the Greek diplomatic legation, which included these dozen women on their evacuation lists, no other country took up their desperate request for help.

“We want everyone to be at the airport today since the flight is scheduled for tomorrow and the plane will land only for one hour. Due to the traffic and the rush, they will have to spend the night in the area,” reads the letter sent by the staff. of the NGO.

After receiving the instructions, the deputies and their families headed to the aerodrome where thousands of people were already crowding, eager to enter its facilities. “It was real chaos. We trusted our parliamentary credentials to make things easier for us, but the soldiers told us they were no longer good for us. That we were now just a dozen more Afghans wanting to leave the country like everyone else. “Bek relates.

During the hours that followed their arrival at the airfield, the women divided into groups to try to reach one of the access gates (the Abbey gate, the north gate, and the one near the Baron Hotel, a recent meeting point for Afghans, British and Americans who were to be evacuated).

“Please, warn those who are talking to both the military and the Taliban to say that they are on the NATO list, as well as on the Greek Foreign Ministry. Remain calm and be persistent with the soldiers,” it reads in another of the WhatsApp sent to the deputies.

The regrouping to go to the entrances, the sending of the exact location and the appointment of a single person to act as spokesperson for all the groups were the next instructions received. The moment to get on a plane approached and the women, also mired in a tangle of nerves, drowned as they could the joy they felt. “At that moment we were hopeful. After trying hours in the airport area, we thought we could finally put this nightmare behind us.”

However, the contained emotion soon turned into anguish and fear when around six o’clock in the afternoon a deafening roar in one of the accesses to the airport, the Abbey Gate, advanced the trail of blood that was going to leave in its wake. . And it would not be the only one. Shortly after, another detonation suggested a new trickle of victims.

Nazifa and the families of some of the twelve parliamentarians who planned to leave Kabul this Friday ended up being taken in by a local family who lives near the airport. “I’m not even at home. Now it’s too dangerous to go out. We are safer here. We will stay until things settle down, if that happens at some point,” says the Tajik.

At the moment, representatives of countries such as the United Kingdom, France or Italy have announced that they will end their evacuation missions in the next few hours, while other states such as Germany, Belgium or Spain have already concluded them. The last two Spanish flights took off from Kabul early in the morning with embassy, ​​military and aid personnel on board.

“They already tried to kill me once. Maybe they will do it again.”

From his temporary refuge in the Afghan capital, Nazifa Yusuf Bek wonders if he will survive the new Taliban regime now that his attempts to leave the country have been thwarted.

The Islamic extremists already tried to end his life during the electoral campaign that preceded the parliamentary elections of October 20, 2018 when a motorcycle, loaded with explosives and parked near the facilities where Nazifa was going to participate in a rally, in the province of Tahar, was detonated shortly before the deputy made her appearance. She was able to save her life but about twenty people, especially security personnel and civilians, did not suffer the same fate. Another 30 Afghans were injured in the attack.

The explosion came days after another suicide bomber killed himself during an electoral meeting in Helmand province, killing at least eight people, including candidate Saleh Mohamad Achekzai. According to the Independent Electoral Commission, four more candidates were assassinated in a fateful month.

“They already tried to kill me once. Maybe they will do it again,” Nazifa says with a frightening resignation. “Do not be surprised, this has been the day to day in Afghanistan for many years. Unfortunately we are used to it and being a woman, the possibilities increase,” she says with cold serenity.

Although the spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihula Muyahid, assured during the first press conference offered by the extremist group after the capture of Kabul that there would be a general amnesty and that women would have rights (always within the framework of Sharia or Islamic law ), deputies like Nazifa Yusuf Bek do not believe a word. “Whatever they say, nothing will change. There have already been arrests and deaths. The facts will speak for themselves as soon as the bulk of the international community leaves,” he asserts.

The truth is that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, reported this week to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva that the supranational organization had received “heartbreaking and credible reports” about executions of civilians, repression of peaceful protests and restrictions on the rights of women under the recently established regime of terror.

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