These past few days, we have witnessed on our television screens and social media, images of the Taliban having swept through Afghanistan and on the 15th August, walked into the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul and straight into the Presidential Palace without any resistance after the withdrawal of the US forces just a few weeks before.
Yesterday, the Taliban issued a statement claiming that they will be an inclusive political force, calling on people not to leave Afghanistan and that women will be able work and take part in education. However, a key question is: What is the reality on the ground and what does the future hold for Afghan women?
I was joined for this special podcast by Afghan woman, Lida Ahmad, a member of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan in Europe and by Remziye Mohamed, the spokeswoman of Kongreya Star, to talk about the recent developments in Afghanistan and what it means for the Afghan people and especially for the struggle of Afghan women.
Because of connection issues in North East Syria, Remziye Mohamed of Kongreya Star joined by telephone and spoke in Kurdish. Her conversation was then translated into English.
The following solidarity message that was passed on by Kurdish women’s rights activist and lawyer Hawzhin Azeez, was also read out as a message from Kurdish women to the women of Afghanistan.
“What’s happening in Afghanistan is devastating and horrific. As Kurds, perhaps more than any other people, we know the terror that the people of Afghanistan, especially the women and girls are feeling right now. We are painfully reminded of ISIS attacking Shengal, Rojava and Basur in 2014 and taking our Yezidi girls into slavery and forced marriages as the international community looked the other way and feigned ignorance too.
“We watched helplessly as our boys were thrown into mass graves, adding to the long list of mass graves that is already the graveyard which is the artificial state of Iraq. Yet, from the horrific violence and wreckage of ISIS, we also saw the rise of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG). These women stood up and defended each other, often leading the fight even when the men had fallen back. They knew that freedom is never freely given.
“It is costly and must be taken from the clutches of the oppressors. These women reminded us that change is possible, that the oppressed, the dispossessed and the erased peoples of the world can forge their own liberation ideology and fight fiercely for it and that women can and must lead the way towards that freedom. The support, logistics and weapons came, brought with the spilling of their pure, young blood and their immeasurable sacrifices they made for all women. Our struggle is not over yet, just as yours has taken a new devastating turn.
“As Kurdish women, our message to Afghan sisters is that we stand in loving solidarity with you and your struggle for freedom from the oppressions of the murderous imperialist, capitalist system. We know that solidarity involves action, instead of simply praying and hoping for the best for you.
“We will listen to you, witnessing your stories. We will stand beside you as you lead protests in the streets. We will write letters to our senators and MPs. We will raise our voices with you; listening and amplifying the voices of your activists and intellectuals. We will donate to your preferred charities. We will read and share your posts, articles and tweets. We know of the sacred, healing power of women coming together and so we will reach out to you, communicate with you, network, cook, child mind with you, coordinate, share stories and cry with you.
“Your story is not over. This is not the end. It is a setback; but as women, our unconquerable spirits have always risen, like the phoenix from the ashes of war, death, terror and inhumane violence that the dark hearts of weak men sew in our communities. We are beside you, with you every step of the way.
“Your freedom is our freedom. Your oppression is our oppression. Your lives are sacred to us and every single one of you matters to us. And we will also be there on that wonderful, hoped for day, dancing with you with all the bright, vivid colors of our beautiful, ancient cultures as we celebrate our collective freedom as women. I can already hear the crescendo of that music. (…) I hope you will hear it too.”