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50 days of the Taliban: Interpreters and LGBT citizens hiding for their lives

·4-min read

Afghans facing oppression from the Taliban are living in hiding, with one saying “there is no normal life” for them now.

Tuesday marked 50 days since the last UK and US troops left the country.

Since August there have been allegations of reprisal killings by the Taliban of former Afghan security forces, as well as beatings, violence and oppressive practices.

People gather outside as a Taliban fighter controls the entrance to the government passport office
People gather outside as a Taliban fighter controls the entrance to the government passport office (Ahmad Halabisaz/AP)

The PA news agency spoke to some of those affected, including those who worked with western countries, female students and LGBT citizens, their names have been changed for their own security.

Bahar worked as an interpreter with the British Army in Afghanistan around 10 years ago.

His work with the UK means he now fears for his life and has been forced into hiding with his wife and two young daughters, who he fears will be unable to attend school.

“Day by day the situation is getting bad for me and my family,” he told PA.

“I don’t think there will be a good future for me, for my children… they will never get anything in Afghanistan.”

Bahar also said that the Taliban presence in the streets has increased as the group attempted to enforce certain rules.

“When you are going out, everywhere there are checkpoints,” he said.

“The Taliban… sometimes they are talking about the beards – ‘Why you don’t have beard? Why you were wearing the t-shirt? You must wear the Afghan clothes, you must have the beard.'”

Mohammad meanwhile is part of a group of seven trapped interpreters with more than 40 years of service between them in various roles alongside British forces in Afghanistan.

Mohammad while he worked for the British embassy in Kabul as a CCTV operator
Mohammad while he worked for the British embassy in Kabul as a CCTV operator (PA)

“We are trying to survive… there is no normal life for me,” Mohammad told PA.

“During the night time Taliban forces raid houses of former government officials and those allied of foreign forces.”

Mohammad is in contact with his family via phone calls, frequently changing his number to avoid detection.

He fears for the future of his young children, and is concerned they “may get brainwashed by the Taliban” in their schools.

Bibi – a university student – said “everything seems so dark for me” after she and her classmates were sent home by Taliban members.

“We went to university, me and my friends,” she told PA. “They are not allowing us to go inside.

“They said ‘you girls should go back home and work at home and pray.

“You don’t deserve to study, it’s not good for you.’

“We came back home with so many disappointments.”

Bibi hopes to find a scholarship so she can study in another country.

“There are so many limitations for women – how should they dress, how should they appear in society, where should they go and where should they not go,” she said.

“I feel so upset about everything and everyone, especially for my intelligent classmates, how eagerly they studied.”

Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
People at an Afghan solidarity rally in Trafalgar Square, London, to oppose the Taliban (Yui Mok/PA)

Nemat Sadat, a gay Afghan-American activist from San Diego, California, said he had been contacted by more than 500 LGBTQ+ Afghans through social media after he started a GoFundMe page to help them reach safety in other countries.

“Many are in terrible economic situations, many cannot work and are sitting at home hiding on rooftops and in closets,” the 42-year-old author told PA.

The activist said he spoke to one man who had been evading capture since his partner was beheaded by Taliban fighters.

In another instance, a lesbian woman reached out to Mr Sadat for help because she said her ex-husband was “hunting her”, planning to hand her over to the Taliban who “will probably stone her to death”.

Abdullah, who worked for the BBC, is in hiding in Afghanistan, he said his country had become the “worst place in the world” to be a journalist.

“Nothing has changed positively,” he said.

“People are dying from hunger. People cannot afford to buy five breads to feed their children. The health system is collapsing. Everyone is afraid of their future.

“The Taliban are suppressing minorities.

“We have seen an increase in terrorist attacks on Shia people, a minority group.

“The West needs to provide urgent humanitarian aid to those in need.

“If the world remains silent and does not take urgent action, Afghanistan will face a humanitarian catastrophe.”

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