Another young leader taken. The Afghans ask: how many more?


KABUL, Afghanistan – Who got a job at the Commission for afghan human rights at the age of 24 years, Fatima Khalil had come a long way since she was a girl refugee who had almost not made it to the birth, with the midwife, which came out even before cutting the umbilical cord.

She spoke six languages, had a solid foundation in religious studies and is a graduate of the american University of central Asia with two specializations. But what my friends remember most is a young woman, deeply confident, but sensitive, who was totally in love with life. She wore bright colors – an orange gown for her birthday – and exceeded everyone on the dance floor, but was afraid of the dark.

When Ms. Khalil and a driver, Ahmad Jawid Folad, 41 years old, were killed Saturday in one of the other explosions too ubiquitous, targeting civilians in Kabul, there was a sense of deflation in the afghan capital. At a time deeply uncertain for the country, where a war without end is often still more than 50 people dead over several days, she has exemplified the bright promise of an entire generation that is being slaughtered in the blood.

But even before the negotiations began over the division of power between the government and the taliban, the bleeding intensified. Many of those who are referred are of the new life which has taken root since 2001: journalists and religious scholars with moderate, cultural figures and activists – and women in public office.

“As an afghan woman, who comes from a patriarchal society, to be Fatima took courage – to be so strong. Simply know your mind – as a woman, you are told every day that you do not have the spirit, you do not have an opinion. She had an opinion about everything, ” said Shaharzad Akbar, chairperson of the aihrc human rights. “To raise a Fatima – it takes so many different factors together, including many by chance, to raise someone like that. And then, just like that, gone. ”

Ms. Khalil was born in Pakistan in a family of refugees who had fled a previous chapter of the 40 years of violence in Afghanistan, the sixth child of two former teachers. His father opened a grocery store in Quetta, Pakistan, earning barely enough to live on; his sister Lima said that the midwife was a party in the middle of the birth of Fatima, furious that the family has not been able to pay all of its expenses.

“She didn’t even cut the chord of umbilical cord, my mother has done herself,” said Lima, now a phd student in the United States who could not make it in time for the funeral of his sister because of travel restrictions related to sars coronavirus. “We’ve always taquinée – the doctor ran away when you were half-born. “

Although the family has been knocked out several times, Fatima has excelled in school. She began her studies in a refugee school in Pakistan founded by a charitable association of saudi arabia. After the return of the family in Afghanistan, she graduated from high school in Kabul in an international school Turkish competitive, which she had attended thanks to a scholarship.

At the moment she is a graduate of the american University of central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, with a double major in anthropology and studies of human rights, she spoke fluent Arabic, urdu, English, Russian and the languages of afghanistan pashto and farsi (also known as Dari).

His friends and relatives called her Natasha, the name her mother gave her, and she had hugs and nicknames for everyone. She was sure of it, even frank, but in passionate discussions about politics and ideas, she has defused the conflict with humor and charm: “easy Easy, pull on the brakes, sister!” or ” Patient, patient, patient! “

His disgust and frustration over the place of women in society and politics, as well as the concern of the people to respect the look and the outfit of the women, are clear in his publications on social networks.

But she also found the energy in this fight. She idolized the first woman ambassador of Afghanistan to the United Nations. It has increasingly helped his boss with projects which are more substantial on the international mechanisms of human rights.

“She believed that the poem told the story of each of our lives in some way,” said Benazir Noorzad, who overlapped with her at the university.

After graduating last year, Ms. Khalil was planning to go straight to a masters program. His sister Lima was encouraged to acquire a certain experience of work.

“She said:” I’m going elsewhere – I do not return in Afghanistan “, ” recalled Lima. She reminded Fatima of how their father had been pushed to return to their families in Afghanistan. “Please, you come too”, she said to her sister. “People like you are needed. “

By the time she arrived at the Commission afghan independent human rights to apply for the position of coordinator of international assistance, she had interviewed several national and international organizations, including the United Nations. Ms. Akbar, 32 years old, had taken over the presidency of the commission and revised in order to improve its funding and strengthen its management.

Ms. Akbar has exposed frankly to Mrs. Khalil: the commission was a mess, their relationships with donors in a fight. Perhaps she could give him work, but she might not be able to pay him a salary for a few months. Ms. Khalil has accepted the position.

“I’ve had many interviews, and the interviewers presented their organizations as the best in the country,” she wrote in an e-mail to Ms. Akbar. “You are the only person to have said that the commission is facing many challenges. Therefore, I think that I could be more helpful. “

On Saturday, when the body of Ms. Khalil was brought in one of the old cemeteries of Kabul, colleagues and friends wept as his father remembered his dedication.

“This was not only my daughter – she was fighting for the country,” he declared on his grave. “In history, there has always been war. But this war, assassinations, the war, suicide attacks – a war is the most dirty, the most cursed. “

On his small office in the commission of Sunday, there were folders of unfinished projects and a miniature replica of the walls explosives saturating Kabul converted into a work of art: painted on she was a rock star, microphone in hand, balancing on the barrel of a tank. On his wall was a painting of a girl in a dress of lime-light on a swing. The printer was covered with sticky notes.

Ms Akbar said that the most difficult part of it all was not to know who was behind the explosion that killed Mrs. Khalil.

“To survive it all, and you get to a place, to fight, to study, and then to serve – and then you get killed and we will not know can never be killed.

“This is the moment that you think: OK, I say to all these people to take the risk, but things will get better?” she added, agonisée. “Will they get better? “

Fahim Abed has contributed to the story.


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