CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Two weeks ago, Afghan women were wondering what life for them might be like if the Taliban managed to retake the entire country. Now they’re watching history repeat itself.
Sara, a journalist in Afghanistan, said on The Donlon Report, “Everything is getting worse. Everything is changing.”
Her real name is being withheld for her safety.
Afghans are in danger because of their work with the U.S. military or U.S organizations, and Americans scrambling to get them out, have pleaded with Washington to cut the red tape that they say could strand thousands of vulnerable Afghans if U.S. forces withdraw as planned in the coming days.
“If we don’t sort this out, we’ll literally be condemning people to death,” said Marina Kielpinski LeGree, the American head of a nonprofit, Ascend. The organization’s young Afghan female colleagues were in the mass of people waiting for flights at the airport in the wake of days of mayhem, tear gas and gunshots.
Sara believes the country is demoralized after seeing its president, Ashraf Ghani, flee.
“How could the common people — the social activists, the journalists, those who are working on the big positions on the government — how could they stay in a country when the president is not ready to talk and to stand [up to] the Taliban?” she asked.
Hundreds of Afghans who lacked any papers or promises of flights also congregated at the airport, adding to the chaos. It didn’t help that many of the Taliban fighters were illiterate, and cannot read the documents.
The Taliban have pledged to forgive those who fought them and to restore security and normal life to the country after decades of war. But many Afghans fear a return to the Taliban’s harsh rule in the late 1990s, when the group largely confined women to their homes, banned television and music, chopped off the hands of suspected thieves and held public executions.
Sara said she worked at Afghanistan National Television, and her female colleagues were not allowed in the building despite having proper identification.
The older generation that remembers the previous Taliban rule has shown more fear than the younger generation, but everyone is feeling whiplash.
“Especially the ladies and they did not know actually what they should do,” she said.
On Thursday, a procession of cars and people near Kabul’s airport carried long black, red and green banners in honor of the Afghan flag — a banner that is becoming a symbol of defiance. Video from another protest in Nangarhar province showed a bleeding demonstrator with a gunshot wound. Onlookers tried to carry him away.
In Khost province, Taliban authorities instituted a 24-hour curfew Thursday after violently breaking up another protest, according to information obtained by journalists monitoring from abroad. The authorities did not immediately acknowledge the demonstration or the curfew.
All of this has left Sara confined to her home. She doesn’t have a visa to get into another country, so even attempting to wade through the chaos on the road to the airport would be futile.
“In this situation also, I need to be logical because there are lots of people killed or injured,” Sara said. “So I’m trying to move, but by a chance.”