Kabul’s Evacuation Crisis Has People Falling From the Sky
I’m a woman journalist who has lived in Afghanistan for eight years. Now I’m helping evacuate citizens, and the horror show I’ve witnessed will stay with me for life.
A video from the recently besieged Kabul was shared with me this morning, of what looks like a man falling out of an airplane. I dismissed it at first because it isn’t uncommon for exaggerated misinformation to spread in times of crisis. But soon after, a source in Kabul sent me a photo taken of a man who fell off one of the roofs in their neighborhood. “He fell from the sky,” they said.
Shortly after, more videos came from those who are waiting at the Kabul airport, holding on to the tiniest hope that one of the planes that are evacuating U.S. and other foreign nationals will allow them in. In it, Afghans can be seen running after a plane about to take off on the runway, and grabbing onto the wheels before they leave the ground because they hope that will save them and get them out of a country they helped build with the support of the United States and NATO allies.
Because today, for them, anything is better than having to live under an extremist, fundamentalist, vindictive, and violent Taliban regime, handed over to Afghanistan by the U.S., betraying millions who rallied behind their western “allies” against the Taliban.
Secretary Antony Blinken said that Afghanistan is not Saigon. Yes, Mr. Secretary, it is not Saigon. This is Kabul.
This is your legacy, the legacy of every single American, whether they voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Together, both leaders ensured a complete annihilation of any democratic values of human rights, women’s rights, minority rights, civil rights that the Afghans built.
I am talking to Afghans from all over the country who are sharing terrifying stories of what the Taliban are doing in their cities. In Kandahar, they are executing people who they see as opposition on the streets. In Takhar and Samangan, they have cut off the limbs of those who they accused of being “thieves.” In Herat, they have already stopped women from entering universities. In some northern provinces, women tell me that the Taliban are collecting names of unmarried and widowed women over 20. In some districts, they have already been forcefully marrying women off. In other places, they are going door to door, identifying people who have worked with foreigners or in the media.
As I type this, friends are sending me videos of the Taliban patrolling the streets of Kabul, a city I called home for seven years. They are firing in the air, they are knocking on doors and asking for “women who worked with foreigners.”
By abandoning Afghans to the Taliban, the western government has essentially espoused every value that the militant group stands for. The international community, particularly western nations, and specifically the U.S., are party to the war crimes they are committing because they are committing them and the international community endorsed it.
Afghans in the former government and security sector, all of whom are on the run right now, were told their allies had their back. Every single one I spoke to shared that they feel betrayed. Even at the very end, they were told that an interim government would be placed that would protect their interests, and then on Sunday afternoon, they were asked to surrender.
In the last three days, my colleagues and I have worked non-stop to get Afghans out. We are calling, emailing, and texting all organizations, activists, lawyers, politicians, and diplomats who can help evacuate vulnerable Afghans from the ground. We are filling out the complicated bureaucratic forms that the governments have created to decide who is eligible to live and who should be left behind. We are trying to put pressure on governments that seem to have just given up.
But we weren't given enough time. No one expected that American leaders would enable such grave violations against an entire country. Must we remind the U.S. that it started this fight with the Taliban to protect its interest and security against Al Qaeda? Well, Al Qaeda is still alive and kicking, and the Afghans have been sacrificed for your national interest.
We urge you all to please help us now. Help get the Afghans who are the most vulnerable right now, out of there. Pressure your governments to start flights and bring anyone who has ever spoken for your interest and security to safety. These women and men are your strongest assets. They are products of your investment and foreign policy. Help them. Please.