Afghanistan dispatch: ‘under Taliban rule, Afghans are killing themselves in epidemic proportion’
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Afghanistan dispatch: ‘under Taliban rule, Afghans are killing themselves in epidemic proportion’

Afghan law students and young lawyers in Afghanistan have been reporting on the ground from that country since the Taliban took Kabul in August 2021. Here, one of our correspondents in Kabul considers some of the changes that have taken place in Afghanistan over the past year. For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding our correspondent’s name. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

Today, August 15 2022, is the one-year anniversary of terror and oppression against Afghan people. On August 15 the Taliban took over the capital—Kabul—and introduced it to their own oppressive ideology. After taking the city by plotting, conspiracy and betrayals by the former republic’s officials, the Taliban imposed their interpretation of religion, along with their own tribal interest, on the Afghan people. As a result, the country has not seen a worse economic crisis since 2002, when the Taliban wrecked the economy during their last conquest.

During the past year several fronts have started fighting back against Taliban, the National Resistance Front being the more dominant.During the last year the NRF has tried uniting all the others fronts, but without the big players of the world and a mediator to facilitate the marriage, little has changed.

Today marks the three hundred fifty sixth day in which a country, in the 21 century, does not permit its girls to attend school. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that after August 2021 Afghans and in particular women and girls lost most of their human rights. Women are omitted from leadership positions, and almost all the government bodies have and are continuously firing women from their jobs. In many cases Taliban had asked women to send their “man of the household” to work instead of themselves.

Millions have lost their jobs, and are dealing with the worst financial crisis of their precious lives. The country’s economy stands solely on international funds that the Taliban have been extorting out the humanitarian organizations for themselves. For the last year, as per HRW’s report “almost 90 percent of the country faces food insecurity”. The country’s private sector has moreover turned to a “Mafia like” entity. Wheat, gas and almost anything that matters is made exclusively for certain companies and individuals, who manipulate the market at their will.  The Taliban distort market competition for the mafia, in return they provide them with free gas.

Free speech is absolutely non-existent. Aside from JURIST, only two Afghan-driven news outlets [i.e. Afghanistan International and the “8 am” newspaper], the latter operating outside Afghanistan, have been able to publish any news against the Taliban. The past year has been the worst year for journalists. Many of them got imprisoned, severely beaten, tortured and killed. The Taliban in recent months of their first year of governing decreed that any single criticism would render the offending individual an enemy of the state. They have officially banned a free press and. frankly. any right to think against them.

Thousands died during the last year. In Panjsher, Badakhsahan, Takhar and Baghlan provinces, the Taliban broke into homes of civilians and killed them, claiming connection with or support of the NRF. The Taliban burned and killed a whole district—Balkhab—when a Hazara leader of defied their orders. The Taliban went to war against them and killed hundreds. Moreover, a systematic genocide of Shia people and the Hazara ethnic group is ongoing in Afghanistan by ISS-K. Mostly the Hazara minority has been targeted by the ISS, in their mosques. and where they can find a mass number in Kabul. Afghan security has been unprecedentedly compromised – the country is turned into a heaven for international criminals and terrorists – within the last month, witness the leader of al-Qaida being recently struck down by a US drone in a government-owned house in the heart of Kabul. For days after that event the Taliban denied it, and then accepted it, claiming they knew nothing about the residence of Al-Zawahiri.

No shock would come to any Afghan when they read a recent report by TOLO News on suicide rates in Afghanistan. TOLO has found that under Taliban rule, Afghans are killing themselves in epidemic proportion – 27 have killed themselves in just two month. TOLO has also found that in the course of six months 630 attempts of suicide were recorded in Herat province alone: “a once simpleminded kid whose whole life problem was not being able to propose to his beloved”, a student who dreamt of world iconic universities to go to and a girl who dreamt of becoming an engineer when she graduates – none of them could bear the weight of knowing that everything they ever hoped and worked for is now obsolete and what only matters is a chunk of hair on your chin.

In order to understand how reliable these numbers are, it is important to know how suicide is looked upon here in Afghanistan. In an Afghan-Islamic context, killing yourself is an unforgivable act. It is shameful for the family, so much so that “the prayer for the deceased” should not be made in the funeral of someone who has ended her life. Keeping that in mind, almost any case of suicide done at home is covered under mental illness or accident, to avert the shame it would bring on the family. Only in cases where the act is done in a public place or it finds momentum in social media is it counted in data researches. Thus, the real numbers of actual suicides are almost certainly be in hundreds per month. As for the incentives, the main cause of suicide in men are financial crises. Affording food, water, electricity and rent is now more than an impossible task. The main cause of suicide in girls are child marriages and forced marriages in cases of adult females. Not having access to education, social restriction and family pressure are other reasons for high suicide rates among girls.

Why Afghans are killing themselves? It is fairly straightforward. Afghanistan is, officially, the saddest country in the world. The fact that many Afghans can no longer afford being cheerful has turned the country to a graveyard not only of people but, of humor, kindness and love. Bitterness, hatred, hunger, domestic abuse, father-son killings and human trafficking is “a now resentful bitter man who knows no love” has to deal with every day.

And yet here we are, after a year of suffering, still dreaming and hoping. The Taliban are solely responsible for all the good lives that have been lost in the past year, but the apathy and callousness shown by the world in treating Afghan lives as worthless carries its own share of the blame. But the story never ends midway. Woe the day the cries turn into songs, and grievances into anger.