My beloved sister,
It has been several months since you left this world, but the grief of your loss is still fresh. I think of you every day. I wish you could be with me today. Being separated from you and knowing the martyrdom you had to suffer hurts. I feel like my back was broken when I lost you.
After the Taliban murdered you in front of our family’s house, I quit my job at the media company where you also worked. Again and again we received the same threat: if you are a woman and don’t leave your job, you will be killed. Two other female colleagues have already lost their lives.
Our father was also threatened with death several times and he also lost his job at a charity organisation. Without both of your incomes, our brothers and sisters cannot complete their education. We have all given up hope that Afghan society could still change for the better. Often, I now have the gloomy thought that life has become meaningless.
“As a journalist you always emphasised that we women make up half of society and that we are entitled to the same rights as men”
There is no end to the terror. We keep being threatened. Again and again, strange women dressed in burkas came to our house. The reasons for their visits were fictitious: First it was a vaccination campaign, then it was about alleged relief supplies. They took photos of our house and questioned our neighbours. We no longer felt safe, changed our place of residence - now we live somewhere else, you could say underground. But the threatening calls continue even here.
My beloved sister, as a journalist you have always emphasised that we women make up half of society and that we are entitled to the same rights as men. But in Afghan society, these rights have been taken away from us again and again; sometimes there are cultural, sometimes religious reasons for this, mostly it is pure ideology.
Meanwhile, our country seems to exist only in a purely male version. Only men are allowed to move on, to have careers, to make decisions. We women have no rights, only the duty to sit at home and do the housework. To even hope for a better future where we could further our education and be independent is considered a crime.
This is the law of the Taliban, which they have imposed on us women through numerous decrees and orders. So most activists and journalists, like you once were, face a stark choice: leave the country, go underground or protest and risk being killed.
“If you were still alive, beloved sister, I am sure it would be very difficult for you to find your bearings in this brutal system”
Women who refuse to wear the hijab are equated with animals. For the Taliban and their henchmen, they are considered fair game. Even if these measures are eventually withdrawn: Who will give us back the years of lost lives and our loved ones who have been taken from us?
In Kabul, meanwhile, one can no longer feel safe at any time. People are being targeted and killed in broad daylight. If you were still alive, beloved sister, I am sure it would be very difficult for you to find your bearings in this brutal system. You have always worked very hard for this country, you have loved it. But instead of reporting on the current injustices, you had to die a martyr's death.
You were not only a sister to me, you were my friend. I could confide everything in you. Today my heart is heavy with all the worries I would love to share with you. I miss you so.
I wish with all my heart that we who are left will manage to leave for a safe country. I sincerely hope that one day our siblings will be able to continue their education. We all miss you, beloved sister. May your soul rest in peace.
Your little sister
The author is known to the editors.
Translated by Rayana Fakhri and Jess Smee