Afghan activist P.T.: ‘What can you think in a society in which there are no women?’

  • 12:41 15 September 2021
  • News
Dilan Babat - Öznur Değer
ANKARA - The activist P.T., who settled first in Iran and then in Turkey as a result of the threats and pressures of the Taliban, points to the political powers as responsible for the situation in Afghanistan and said: ‘’Even if I ask for something from the whole world, it is useless because the whole world was in our country. They were there until a few days ago. Our country has become like this because of the whole world.’’
‘’We never thought that one day the Taliban would come and slowly capture the country. What can you think about in a country, in an atmosphere, in a society in which there are no women?’’ she said.  These words belong to P.T., an Afghan woman activist who spent her life on the migration routes. Summarizing the events in the Middle East countries, which have almost become known with war and chaos, with these words, she tells the story of migration from Afghanistan to Turkey in her house where we are guests.
First migration at one-year-old
Born in Kunduz, Afghanistan, P.T. (34) met immigration when she was only one-year-old. P.T., who had to immigrate with her family from Afghanistan to Iran in 1988 due to the ongoing Soviet-Afghan war in the country, lives as a refugee in Iran until the age of 16. P.T.'s 15-year refugee life in Iran comes to an end with her return to her country in 2002 after the US occupation of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the Taliban from the country.
Targeted by the Taliban
Expressing that she has established a new life in her own country, P.T. states that the persecution of the Taliban has never ended. In particular, P.T. noted that after 2014, the country completely changed and they began to live under threat and danger, and says that she started to be threatened by the Taliban in Kunduz, where she lived with her spouse and child at that time. Working in the field of women's rights with a foreign institution, P.T. states that the Taliban targeted her for this reason and received threats not to work with foreigners.
‘They started to organize around the city’
P.T. describes the process she went through with these words: ‘’After 2015, our life in Afghanistan became very difficult. The Taliban entered the Kunduz province where I lived four years ago. Gradually they began to attack everywhere. They began to organize all over the city, and many joined the Taliban. I was working in the field of gender equality and women's rights in an international institution. After the Taliban entered the city, they began to find people working with foreigners and disturb those working with the state.’’
Taliban threats continue
Having to settle in another city after the threats received by the Taliban in Kunduz, P.T. continues to be exposed to the threats of the Taliban where they moved. “They were after us. Since we were working with foreigners, they would not let us go,’’ she said and described the threats of the Taliban. P.T. continued: ‘’Then my spouse and his brother were arrested by the Taliban soldiers. They asked us for money and asked us to promise that we would not work again. My husband was also working with a German company, but after the threats and pressure from the Taliban, he had to quit his job and started trading.’’
‘I wanted my daughter to grow up in an atmosphere of peace’
Underlining that the situation was bad, P.T. said: ‘’While we were there, they entered our city three times and captured it. Thus, everyone started to leave Kunduz, they had to go to other cities and countries. We were not in safe. American (US) soldiers started leaving the country after 2014. After 2014, seizures and explosions began. All of a sudden everything was mixed up and everyone was scared. Finally, we decided to go out. We were all in danger. My daughter had a special situation and I did not want her life to be ruined. I wanted her to grow up in a peaceful, humane atmosphere.’’
‘We had to go out’
Noting that they expect the situation to get better until 2016, P.T. states that they do not think that the Taliban can go that far. Expressing that the presence of the Taliban made the roads especially dangerous for women, P.T. said: ‘’We loved our country, we didn't want to go out. I was working and I loved my job, I did not want to quit but we had to go out. We were afraid. At the end of 2016, we decided to leave the country and went to Iran. We wanted to stay there for a while, wait for the country to recover, and turn back.’’
‘It was better to return to Afghanistan than to be without an identity in Iran...’
Stating that she stayed there for six months after coming back to Iran for the second time, P.T. said: ‘’The Iran at that time was not the old Iran. Iran also never gives rights to refugees. Our future and the future of our children were uncertain. We were thinking, ‘Will we be given ID?’, ‘Will my child be taken to school?’ My child was supposed to go to school, but they delayed us and only accepted a limited number of foreign students. There was no job opportunity in Iran and they were to be worked cheaply in heavy works. We were not given any identification. I applied everywhere to get a temporary ID, but I couldn't get an answer from anywhere. How could I live there? How could I live without any identity, without any legal rights, without my future? After that, I decided to go back to Afghanistan. Even Afghanistan was better than this. But turning back was not easy either. There was an explosion every day and all our relatives had come out of there. The people there said that the situation is worse than before, that we should not come.’’
‘We came to Turkey by walking half the way’
Stating that their relatives came to Iran while they were thinking of leaving Iran, P.T. points out that even those who say they will never leave the country are forced to leave. Expressing that they understood that they could not live in Iran, P.T. says that they decided to come to Turkey. Summarizing her arrival in Turkey with the words ‘’It was very difficult, it was dangerous’’, she continues as follows: ‘’For the first time, I was going to another place as a fugitive. We walked half the way. We were afraid. There was the possibility of all kinds of dangers on that way.’’
‘We know who we are and what rights we have’
Stating that she has been living in Turkey since 2017, P.T. underlines that it is not a good feeling to live in someone else's country. She said: ‘’We have been here for four years. We got used to it now. This place is better than Iran. When we came to Turkey, our rights were recognized and we were given a temporary identity card. We are under international protection. We know who we are and what rights we have.’’
‘Tears are flowing in Afghanistan’
Describing the persecution to the people by the Taliban, who took over the administration of Afghanistan after 20 years, P.T. once again expresses that the lives of the people in Afghanistan are in danger as she begins to experience emotional moments. She stated: ‘’Tears are flowing in Afghanistan right now. Bad things are happening in Afghanistan. Our 20 years of struggle, what we have done has been go for nothing. We never thought of that. We could not imagine that one day the Taliban would come and gradually capture the country and our prime minister would flee. Our state was also not a good state and could not make good use of the opportunity it had. It was never friendly with the people and was a fascist state. We see the result.’’
‘What can you think in a society in which there are no women?’
Saying that mostly women live in danger in Afghanistan, P.T. states that most of the men join the Taliban. Pointing out that those who are civil servants are now Taliban soldiers, P.T. draws attention to the situation of women as follows: ‘’Women live secretly at home, waiting for what will happen. First, they said that the Taliban gave women rights, then they said that they gave rights within the Islamic framework, and that girls could not study after the sixth grade. Women are not authorized by the state. What can you think in a country, an atmosphere, a society in which there are no women? The situation of women is very bad. All women of the world stood for Afghan women and defend their rights. I want good results. Women who demanded their rights were attacked, injured and killed while protesting. The Taliban may kill women if they want, they will, and they killed a few women. But these are not shared much in the media because the media is now in the hands of the Taliban. The lives of the women there are in danger.’’