Since the Western intervention in Afghanistan, which came after decades of civil war and the dark years of the Taliban regime, Afghan children have had the opportunity to go to school, university and other educational institutions. Girls and young women, who were prohibited by the Taliban from attending school, have the same opportunities as the boys.
Today, however, Afghanistan is returning to a dark time. Kabul University, established in 1932, experienced a sad day in its history on November 2, 2020, when unknown terrorist groups entered the university and started killing innocent students, professors and anyone who came in front of them. I spent four years of my life at Kabul University, which offered me a wider perspective toward the world and countless unforgettable memories. Seeing images of the blood and bodies on the floor of young, innocent students–between 18 and 25 years old–was shocking.
Hundreds of panicked students tried to escape by throwing themselves from windows, but the insurgents shot at them randomly and killed them. According to BBC news, Ziba Ashgari, one of the students from the law school department, was shot by the insurgents when trying to escape out a window. She drew her last breath while slumped over the window ledge. She was newly engaged and had hope for the future. Similar to Ziba, there were hundreds of students that had hopes and believed that the key to peace and tranquillity in Afghanistan was through education. They felt responsible for their country. They wanted to help their people and make a difference.
According to news reports, Gunmen killed at least 35 students and wounded around 50. This was the second brutal attack in less than ten days. A week before the Kabul University attack, insurgents attacked Kawsar-e-Danish educational centre in Kabul. According to news reports, they killed at least 24 and injured dozens of innocent students. Moreover, the recent killing of Yama Siawash, a famous TV presenter and journalist, is another example of how Afghanistan is losing its young and talented future leaders. Afghanistan is not safe anymore for anyone. The enemies of Afghanistan are against education, enlightenment, and open-minded people; they are scared to see the young generation and future leaders progress; they are scared of change and peace in Afghanistan.
After almost six months of delay, the Afghan government released more than 5,000 Taliban prisoners in the hope of peace and ceasefire (This prisoner exchange, which was mentioned in the US-Taliban Agreement signed in February 2020, was met with fear and pessimism among the people, and was even objected to—in the case of some prisoners—by France and Australia.) After the release of the prisoners on September 13, 2020, the Taliban agreed to sit at the table of negotiation with Afghan leaders in Doha, Qatar. People were optimistic that soon they would live in a country free from war. But it has been nearly two months since the Taliban and Afghan leaders began talking, and they are unfortunately not getting anywhere. Instead of the ceasefire, violence—and the killing of civilians– increases every day. People are tired of decades of war and want peace. They can’t trust the Taliban anymore.
Although the Taliban denied the attack on Kabul University, the people feel that the Taliban have not changed: The group was against education years ago, and now they have come back with the worst mentality toward open-minded and educated people. They are against change, and a peaceful and bright future. They are enemies of the young generation and of the future leaders of Afghanistan.
The question is: What kind of negotiation or peace are the Afghan political leaders trying to achieve? People are losing their loved ones and children every day. What else do they have to lose to achieve peace? What do the unknown terrorist groups and Taliban gain by killing our future leaders?
I call upon Afghan political leaders, the international community and the human rights defenders to help the Afghan people. We have to ensure that this negotiation or political deal indeed brings peace to the country, and the Taliban immediately stop killing innocent people. We, the Afghans, are also human beings and deserve to live in a war-free environment. Our children have the right to study like every single child in the world. Education is not a crime; it’s every human’s fundamental right regardless of sex, religion, nationality, or any other status. We need our youth to stay alive to build our country.