Voices of Afghans Heard on the Streets of Delhi
Afghan refugees protest for rights outside UNHCR, others express solidarity at Mandi House
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has shocked the entire global community. The images of desperate Afghans at the airport trying to get out of the country have been etched in contemporary human history.
The plight and anger of and for the Afghanistan population were visible on the streets of Delhi.
On the 23rd of August 2021, the Afghanistan refugees came out to the streets outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi to demand asylum, security and recognition.
Afghanistan refugees demanded refugee cards, the option to be sent to other countries where they can get citizenship, security and protection from the Indian government and the global community at large.
They said they cannot go back to Afghanistan under the current Taliban regime.
On the other hand, several Indian students and political organizations protested outside Delhi’s Mandi House in solidarity with the Afghan nation and its citizens.
The protestors, mostly young women, raised their voices against the oppression of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.
On the same date, a group of over 270 writers, activists and concerned citizens issued a public statement in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in their struggle for freedom and democracy.
“Today, the liberties and lives of Afghanistan’s feminists, human rights activists, care workers, welfare workers are all in especial danger from the Taliban. Refugees fleeing the Taliban are risking their lives in conditions that display their desperation. Among refugees hanging onto the wings of a place leaving Kabul, two men – a 20-year-old football player and a 25-year-old doctor – fell to their deaths. Refugees face apathy, as well as hostility and violence in countries where they are seeking refuge,” the statement read.
The public statement condemned the US’s actions in Afghanistan that enabled the Taliban forces to consolidate.
“The US occupation actually enabled the Taliban to consolidate itself. The US, having decided to exit Afghanistan, set up unilateral negotiations with the Taliban, excluding its allies as well as the Afghan Government. This culminated in a US-Taliban pact which made it clear that for all purposes the US was transferring power to the Taliban,” said the signatories.
Women came out in large numbers to express their discontent with the UNHCR. Credit: Imaad ul Hasan
Women protestors said their lives will be in grave danger under the new Taliban rule, and hence all of them must be issued residence visas. Credit: Imaad ul Hasan
The press release added, “Refugees face apathy, as well as hostility and violence in countries where they are seeking refuge. The Government of India is yet to make its stand on the Taliban clear. Meanwhile, leaders of the ruling BJP and the Hindu-supremacist RSS have unleashed a hate campaign against India’s Muslims, equating all Muslims and Islam itself with the regressive and oppressive Taliban.”
“The Government has also shamefully referenced the CAA which goes against the Indian constitution’s assurance of equal citizenship to all irrespective of faith or other factors, and announced that it will “prioritise” Hindu and Sikh refugees from Afghanistan.”
Without any provisions for refugees in India, the protestors see no future for their children in this country. Credit: Imaad ul Hasan
Many refugees have to struggle for the basic rights of health care and education. Credit: Imaad ul Hasan
Considering the practices of the Taliban, the refugees are fearful and have asked the world to pay attention to their situation. Credit: Imaad ul Hasan
Many Afghan refugees in India are living on long term visas which they have to renew every year. Credit: Imaad ul Hasan
The UNHCR officers spoke to the protestors and heard their demands. Credit: Imaad ul Hasan
One of the demands in the signed press release is for the UNHCR to “initiate a fact-finding mission to identify and bring to justice all perpetrators of atrocities and violence against Afghan civilians – including the occupying armed forces as well as the Taliban and other armed groups.”
Most of the protestors at Mandi House were women. Women were the most affected in the previous Taliban government. Credit: Fahim Danish
The protestors extended their support to the Afghan people and demanded women’s rights in Afghanistan. Credit: Fahim Danish
The press release also highlighted the women’s plight in a Taliban ruled state.
“The Taliban has declared that it is their authorities who will decide how far women can study, what subjects they can study, what jobs they can hold; and what they must wear. Already reports are coming in of Taliban attacks on women. Displaying incredible courage, women are protesting with handmade posters on the streets of Kabul; and Afghan men and women all over the country are protesting the Taliban takeover with Afghan flags in their hands, facing Taliban bullets in the process. It is these fighting democratic people of Afghanistan who need us to extend solidarity and amplify their voice.”
A number of Afghan girls spoke against the strict restrictions on clothing under the Taliban rule. Credit: Fahim Danish
Protestors got emotional as Afghans share their ordeal. Credit: Fahim Danish
Afghan students express their love for the country through the symbol of their flag. Credit: Fahim Danish
An Indian girl posing with the Afghan flag as an Afghan student clicks a picture. Credit: Fahim Danish
The press release demanded that the Government of India “cease any attempt to distinguish between Afghan refugees on the basis of faith or identity, and instead open the country’s doors to offer safe refuge to any Afghan refugees in need.”