Home News Life As Kabul prepares to surrender this Afghan woman MP prepares to die

As Kabul prepares to surrender this Afghan woman MP prepares to die

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27-year-old Gulali Mohammadi is the youngest member of Parliament in Afghanistan. She sits in the parliament for the province of Uruzgan, where Taliban fighters captured the capital Tarin Kowt on Friday. Women’s rights activist Mohammadi sees the future bleak. Been on for months is threatened, and in January of this year, her brother was murdered by the Taliban, says she’s up against NU.nl. “Everyone’s afraid of: the dark days?”

Death threats from the Taliban are the order of the day for MP Mohammadi. As a champion of women’s rights and as a representative in a country where women are often still hidden under an all-encompassing burqa, she is a stumbling block for the archconservative Taliban.

On december 5 last year, a white jeep came to her office in Kabul. Security cameras recorded a number of random shots from the car, after which the car drove away. “It was a warning,” says Gulali over the phone. “The Taliban want me to stop working as a parliamentarian.”

The seriousness of the threat was revealed a month later. Her 21-year-old brother Zahid Mohammed was also secretary of Gulali in addition to his studies and was often present when she performed or visited in public. When he is in the city of Kandahar on 24 January this year to apply for a visa at the Indian Consulate, he is shot dead by a man on the back of a passing motorcycle. “That was a Taliban operation,” says Gulali. “After my brother was killed, I got a call and they told me that it was my turn too.”The Afghan authorities have never been able to identify the perpetrators, so the motive of the murder has never been clarified.

Zahid Mohammed had just been married, a month after the assassination attempt, his son was born. How great the fear is in Afghanistan is shown by the fact that the mother decides to reject the child fairly soon after birth. She is now married to another man. The boy now lives with Gulali and her mother in Kabul. “The mother was very afraid that something would happen to her too,” says Gulali.

Thanks to her late father, who was mullah (an Islamic cleric), Gulali was able to attend school as a young girl in Uruzgan. “He thought girls and boys were equal,” she says. “And that we were entitled to education.”It was not easy, she received threats, her brothers and cousins also felt that she should not go to school. In Afghanistan, it is normal for girls to get married at the age of 12. But Gulali persisted.

Together with her father, she started a private school at the age of thirteen, where she taught illiterate women and children from poor families. “The government paid us for those lessons. For example, I proved that a girl with an education can do more than milk sheep and make yoghurt. I made money for the family”, Gulali told De Volkskrant in January of this year.

“What happens to us women? Are we going back to the Black Days of old when we were not allowed to leave our house and not to show ourselves?”

She managed to convince her parents to do a further education anyway and went to the midwife education at the Kandahar Institute of Health Sciences, a government institution that has been funded for years by the Dutch aid organisation Cordaid. She subsequently worked as a midwife and later also worked as a manager at the airfield built by the Dutch just outside Tarin Kowt.

In October 2019, Gulali will be elected as the youngest member of Parliament. Gulali is a striking figure in the male-dominated parliament. It demands respect, as is demonstrated by the fact that it is elected secretary of the parliamentary committee on international relations. She’s been talking to men in numerous photos on her Facebook page.

But the time when she can do her job without fear seems to be a thing of the past. Gulali fears the near future. “Afghans are concerned. We have made great progress over the last 20 years. But what will be left of that? What happens to us women? What will they do to us? Are we going back to the Black Days of old when we were not allowed to leave our house and not to show ourselves? That’s what I’m afraid of.”

They will come to kill us all

From Kandahar and other cities already occupied by the Taliban come terrifying stories. People involved in women’s education are picked up by the Taliban in door-to-door operations.

From all sides, calamities enter Gulali, she says. “I am concerned about the people in Uruzgan.”She herself has no intention of fleeing. “I want to be there for the people who chose me. I’m relatively safe here, I have guards.”

“They have handed us over to the Taliban.”

The capital Kabul, where Gulali lives, is still under government control, but the situation is tense. The streets are full of displaced people. “People sit in parks, in vacant buildings, are taken care of in mosques. I just went to check on the street. People are fleeing from all over the country.”

She is outraged by the departure of the American military. “They have handed us over to the Taliban.”She hopes that Western countries and also the Netherlands are prepared to provide humanitarian aid so that the displaced people can be better received, even when the Cold Afghan winter arrives in a few months’ time. She notes in despair that Western countries are now picking up interpreters, but are abandoning others who have helped rebuild the country. “They will come and kill us all.”

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