Even as the world was catching up on the fall of Kabul and the Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan, an Afghan filmmaker’s plea to the international community to cease its silence paints a bleak picture of the country’s tragedy as it is overrun by the Taliban.
Sahraa Karimi, director-general of Afghan Film, the state-run film production firm that has been around since 1968, issued the call, which was shared on Instagram by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap.
Karimi writes passionately about the atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban against the Afghan people, including selling girls as child brides to their fighters, gouging out the eyes of women who did not dress in the “right” clothes, assassinating government officials, including the head of media and culture, as well as a comedian, a historian, and a poet, and dispersing hundreds of thousands of families.
“We have become accustomed to this silence, yet we know it is not fair,” Karimi says, questioning the “silent” of foreign humanitarian organisations on the situation in Afghanistan and the legitimacy of the Doha peace negotiations. “We understand that abandoning our people is the wrong decision, and that rapid troop withdrawals are a betrayal of our people”, she continued.
The so-called peace negotiations, according to Karimi, have only empowered the Taliban to intensify their war against Afghanistan’s legitimate government and brutalise the people. Karimi warns that her country is on the verge of reverting to the dark days when the Taliban initially ruled Afghanistan, claiming that the “immense gains” gained in the last 20 years, particularly by the younger generation, “could be lost again” as a result of “this desertion.”
“If the Taliban takes control, art will be banned,” Karimi says, highlighting the potential impact of Taliban rule on Afghanistan’s creative community and women. “It’s possible that I, as well as other filmmakers, will be next on their hit list. Women’s rights will be taken away, we’ll be pushed into the shadows, into our homes, and our voices will be silenced. The Taliban have demolished several schools in the last few weeks, forcing two million girls out of school.”
Karimi concludes her open letter by pleading with the international community to support people like her who will “remain and fight for my country.” Will the world listen to her, or will it “turn its back on us,” as she fears (but hopes against).