Afghans in Brazil remember their childhood under the Taliban and try to save loved ones from a distance – 19/08/21 – World

Via video call, Fazal Ahmed speaks with a friend in Afghanistan, who shows two bullet holes in the wall and family belongings tied with ropes, ready to escape. Still on his cell phone, Ahmed’s brother, the rabbi, shows a photo of his smiling wife, her hair covered in a printed scarf, and says he fears for her and her son, who are still in Kabul.

Nearby, a family friend, Ahmed Jaber, says he was taken with the school class as a child to watch executions in the public square. And engineer Zabiullah says he’s particularly worried about his sister, who is a potential Taliban double target as a journalist and wife.

In Canindé, a neighborhood in the north of São Paulo, Afghan refugees remember their stories and fear for their relatives and friends who remain in the country, now under the violent domination of the Islamic fundamentalist group. They are found in the Fazal family’s butcher’s shop, which sells halal meat (processed according to Islamic tradition).

The biggest concern today is Rabi’s wife and son, 27. He says he tried three times to get them to come to Brazil, but couldn’t get a visa. “I have already asked a lot, I have been to Itamaraty, to organizations. Nobody listens to me, ”he says, who hardly knows his son except through pictures and videos – he left the country when the child was 10 days old.

Ahmed, 28, was the first of the family to arrive in Brazil in 2012. Six years later his wife, children, parents and brother came.

His cell phone keeps beeping, with videos of Taliban violence sent by friends. Most have the date stamped on the recording, an attempt to prove that they are performing now, not 20 years ago when the group also ruled the country.

“They cut off people’s hands on very small things. Yesterday they closed a girls’ school. They enter people without permission, steal everything. If they see a pretty girl, they say, “This is mine, I’m going to marry her.” It is happening now. In Kabul, ”he said, exasperated.

According to him, there is a curfew after 9 p.m. At home and in fear, women picked up old family burqas to reuse them. Men wait for their beards to grow before they venture out onto the streets – the Taliban do not allow beards to be trimmed.

A friend of hers who lives in Kabul calls by video call. It’s dark in the Afghan capital, but Atif says he’s not going to sleep as he stands guard with a gun he got from a police friend. He says he’s never handled a gun before, but needs them to protect his family.

The day before, the Taliban broke down the door of a neighbor’s house and stole everything inside, in addition to beating men and women, reports Atif, in English. Says he recorded a video of the scene and sends it. The brutality is shocking.

He then shows two bullet holes in the wall. “They came in, beat my brother. They didn’t see any money to steal, so they took her cell phone and said, “Tomorrow we’ll be back.

The family installed eight cameras outside, but six were broken, he said, showing the screen with a picture of the two that remained. There is only food left for five days and they added water to the soup to make it work because they can’t go to the market – most of them are behind closed doors anyway.

Atif’s grandfather has a bleeding foot and they don’t know if they should take him to the hospital because they don’t know if he will be taken away by the Taliban or if there will be doctors who will. will work. A family friend at the end of her pregnancy will likely need to have the baby at home for the same reason.

The Taliban have also taken over the banks, he says, and no one can take the money they had in their account – the day before the city was taken, long lines were seen at the counters. automatic, trying to remove as much as possible.

Atif says that in the morning he went out to smoke a cigarette and was slapped in the face. “A Taliban drove by and said, ‘We are the government now. And in our government, you cannot smoke. ‘ He then shows a bunch of mats tied together. “If someone comes, it’s their turn to run,” Ahmed explains.

The problem is where. Afghans need visas to go almost anywhere in the world, and the airport is surrounded – images of desperate people hanging from planes have become a symbol of desperation to escape the new regime.

“Everyone is stuck there, waiting to die,” says Ahmed. “They are trying with us, with friends from England, the United States. They want to go to any country, they just need to get out of there.

Wearing traditional clothes of the Pashtun ethnic group, the majority in Afghanistan, Ahmed and Rabi’s father says that under the other Taliban regime, between 1996 and 2001, he fled with his family to Pakistan. The Taliban are also Pashtuns, and Fazal Rahim feels the need to explain himself. “But I’m not the Taliban, you see, we don’t agree with them.”

There are few Afghans living in Brazil: a total of 162 recognized as refugees and 49 awaiting a decision on their case.

One of them is Ahmed Jaber, 28, who tells Folha the “worst story of his life”: “I studied and they [os talibãs] they went to our school and took everyone to see the dead in the streets, ”he said, referring to the public executions.

Jaber claims he was a translator for the US military for three months, but was unable to get a visa to migrate to the US because the document was only granted to those who provided services for at least two years. He then went to Dubai and then to Brazil, in 2014. He still has not succeeded in bringing his wife and son together.

Zabiullah, 30, arrived the same year. A telecommunications engineer, he now sells clothes at the Brás Dawn Market in São Paulo. Her mother was a teacher and can no longer work. The sister, a television journalist and mother of two, was taken by the family to the outskirts of town. “Those who worked with the media used to do bad stories about the Taliban and now they are suffering from their badness,” he said.

He hopes that Brazil will simplify the conditions for family reunification. “Now everything is closed over there, it is difficult to put all the documents away.”

In the metropolis of Natal, Afghan Abdul Fattah Rabiei, 35, fears that what happened to his family under the other Taliban regime could be repeated with a cousin and his daughters. Fattah saw his father, a former government official, arrested and tortured by extremists. The mother, a teacher, and the sister, then a student, were banned from attending school.

He was 13 when the group came to power in his hometown of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The family applied for asylum in Iran, but Fattah remained in Afghanistan. Until 2001 he studied in schools dominated by the doctrine of the Taliban and it was only years later, when he went to university in Turkey, that he was aware of the oppression. extremists.

“We didn’t know anything because there was very strong control. Men could go to school, but not think freely.

Despite the promise of peace announced by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, Fattah is not convinced that there will be violence. “They haven’t changed, as they would like us to believe. The leaders are the same, they are the same.

In Turkey, Fattah was a cultural mediator in humanitarian missions and met his wife, the Brazilian Gedilana Rabiei, who worked for the NGO Médecins sans frontières. In 2018, when the couple’s son was born, they moved to Brazil.

Fattah has not been able to sleep since the Taliban took power. “I think about my loved ones, the people of my country, the deaths that can happen. Afghans do not deserve the Taliban. People don’t support them, ”he says.

For him, it is difficult to keep hope where he was born. “We want peace, we want a prosperous country, a country without poverty, without violence. But sometimes it seems impossible and it saddens me a lot.

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