Kabul (Afghanistan), special envoy.
“Your kisses are the translation of all the languages of the world. Kiss me more. I want to be a good translator. These lines by the Afghan poet Hoda Khamosh express her love for others and for life. It is a hymn to the freedom of body and mind. A weapon against obscurantism, that of the Taliban, installed in power since August 15 and who have only one obsession, that of making women disappear from public space.
When we meet her in a suburb of Kabul, Hoda has a sad face, consumed with fatigue, but her eyes are far from dim and sparkle with resistance. Life has, however, become rough. His small textile factory is now closed. The 30 workers lost their jobs. “It’s a disaster,” she says softly. But you have to survive. A lot of people end up selling their stuff, their furniture. She herself had to empty her library and give up many books in order to pay the rent and buy bread, her husband’s salary not being enough.
Women in commando actions
The young woman – she is only 26 years old – is one of those who do not abdicate. She wants to make the voice of all Afghan women heard, despite the immense risks and dangers she faces. She was present during the first demonstrations of women organized in Kabul. “When we are in the street, they call us whores. For them, a woman is only there to have children and take care of the house, ”she says indignantly. Many women have been beaten. Hoda nevertheless leads a group challenging the fundamentalists now in power. These gatherings make it possible to maintain a certain mobilization even if the word may seem strong. From now on, they are rather commando actions. An appointment is given at the last moment. Women go there, brandishing posters denouncing the daily life imposed on them. Fifteen minutes later, before the Taliban police can intervene, they scatter. Initiatives that are multiplying in other cities of the country.
Gulbakhat, a 25-year-old student who participated in the protests, knows what the Taliban crackdown means. She also uses an assumed name. She is wanted by the new masters of the country, but wanted to meet us. Her husband was only released the day before, after five days of detention during which he was severely beaten. They wanted him to confess the place where his wife was hiding. He was only able to leave after paying a deposit with this threat: “Bring your wife to us or we’ll come and get you again.” She changes her home every day to make sure she is not apprehended. He supports her. “We are in too much pain,” she cries, trembling, as tears roll down her cheeks. Like all public university students, Gulbakhat had to stop studying. She hoped to graduate this year and planned to learn another language so that she could go abroad for a while and come back to Afghanistan.
First a member of the Afghan Army’s Special Forces, then of the anti-corruption corps and a teacher at the police academy, Setaysh Alizadeh lives practically in hiding. The positions she held make her a target for today’s leaders. She still keeps an incredible smile. For her, the danger is all the more extreme as the Taliban have opened the doors of the prisons, thus letting all possible revenge be expressed. Especially those locked up for corruption.
Besides the Taliban, other people have come to her home to try to find her. She no longer has a salary. Difficult to live in these conditions. “Everything is destroyed, everything has turned to dust. I am sad, my heart is broken. We are fighting for our rights and for our jobs. We know what we want, it’s a problem for the Taliban, ”she thinks. Without really believing it, she nevertheless participates in the demonstrations “because otherwise my sadness and my hope will remain locked in my heart. Because we have to show the whole world what we want and put pressure on the Taliban, ”she emphasizes.
We should also talk about Zarah, a medical faculty teacher in one of those private universities which, for unknown reasons, have the right to accommodate teachers and students unlike public education. Although dressed in black out of Islamic respect even before the arrival of the Taliban, Zarah does not support dictatorial manners, such as the arrest of several female students because they were not dressed properly. Or the frontal attacks against women who, she says, “must have the right to dress as they want and to be able to work but also to demonstrate”. Yasmin was the head of a designer clothing store when the Taliban arrived. She first lost her footing before reopening, leaving only men behind… officially. One way to resist the new order put in place like so many others, despite the threats received on the phones.
If, for the moment, the wearing of the burqa is not imposed, none of them have any illusions. “The Taliban have not changed, but because they need outside help, they are taking small steps. When they have what they want, they will cut our roots. This is why we should not recognize their regime ”, proclaims Gulbakhat. Hoda agrees: “There is no more freedom, that’s why I have to keep writing. It was a bird whose wings were broken that fell. I am writing now to wake up the sleeping generation. ”