Nilofar Ayubi

After the Taliban took Kabul, Nilofar Ayubi helped her employees take them home.

By Wednesday, Nilofar Ayubi knew that her name was on the Taliban’s list. She heard the news from a friend who told her on Sunday that the Taliban was looking for women like her from house to house and across the community, and this friend also warned her that it was time to leave and hide. The women on the list are journalists, politicians, pilots, entrepreneurs-what they have in common is that they have been talking loudly and persistently about the rights of Afghan women with the IRL online for many years.

Ayubi is one of thousands of women who have built a prosperous and prosperous life for themselves in Afghanistan in the past 20 years, but with the fall of Kabul, their success and outspokenness began to haunt them.Although the U.S. has long insisted on the rights of Afghan women Will be the cornerstone In any peace agreement reached with the Taliban, this promise has now been shattered. As the Taliban execute their writs in the capital, Ayubi and other women’s rights advocates have to make a living on their own.

Earlier that day, on August 18, the 28-year-old Ayubi drove a young woman who was working for her fashion brand and sneaked home from various parts of the city. It is safer for women to travel in groups, accompanied by their male colleagues, who are now actually bodyguards.

For Ayubi, she is one of the first and youngest women in Afghanistan to establish her own furniture production company, and the bad news is ruthless. Her network of friends and other activists kept asking each other where the Taliban set up checkpoints. She said that 72 hours after the collapse of Kabul, she received news that her home and office had been attacked four times by armed men. They asked the staff and neighbors about the whereabouts and belongings of her family.

In the beginning, Ayubi was unwilling to give up everything she had established-her business is booming, her home, her family. But in the past few days, she has become increasingly desperate to take her three children to a safe place away from the Taliban.

“They are everywhere,” she told BuzzFeed News. “They know us from social media and the media, especially those of us who talked about terrorism during the Doha peace talks.”

Rachmat Gul/Associated Press

On August 18, 2021, Taliban fighters patrol the Wazir Akbar Khan community in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Despite the threat to his life, Ayubi insisted on speaking publicly. “I have spoken enough times to be on the hot list, so speaking now will not change anything,” she said. “I want the world to know the current situation.”

Just a few weeks ago, before the Taliban took Kabul, Ayubi was on the roof of her building, singing with neighbors, and tweeting #AfghanLivesMatter. At the time, the French newspaper Le Monde quoted her as saying: “If the Taliban came to Kabul, they would burn everything we built in the past 20 years. Looking around, I was thinking, what can I take away? My three children, maybe There are some clothes.”

Since the fall of the capital, women like Ayubi have been scrambling with their families to find a way out. Some of her friends have left Afghanistan. But the women on the Taliban’s list are walking a tightrope, and a single mistake can mean death. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, women and girls were banned from education and forced to wear burqas outdoors. They cannot work at all, and even leave home without a male company. Penalties for violating this code range from public caning to execution.

A document circulated on Twitter for people trying to figure out how to leave the country. The author stated that they were consultants to the regional government and requested to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue. He stated that the document collated public information about the visa process and their recommendations on safety and travel logistics. It was collected from diplomats and other contacts in the country.

“People can submit tips and I will verify their accuracy before posting,” the author of the file told BuzzFeed News. “Most of this information is available, but it’s buried. Information accessibility is a huge obstacle.”

But the document seen by BuzzFeed News also vividly portrays the feeling of Afghans navigating through a labyrinth of bureaucratic, logistical, and personal challenges that are simply trying to reach Kabul International Airport.

“You should bring as few items as possible and no pets,” the document said. “Only one small piece of hand luggage (such as a handbag) is allowed. This is limited by space-sometimes the space is so large. There has been no hand luggage on board. machine.”

Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images

After the Taliban military took over Afghanistan, the Afghan people left Afghanistan on August 19, 2021, sitting in a U.S. military plane at the Kabul military airport.

Getting to the airport is not easy. The document recommends that people arrive at Hamid Karzai International Airport before the Taliban’s curfew begins at 9 pm-but due to evacuation staff working 24/7, the departure time listed by passengers may drop during the curfew. Currently, the document states that there are no flights departing from Afghanistan except Kabul.

“The U.S. government has confirmed that they cannot ensure safe travel to the airport: you have to arrange it yourself,” it said.

Entering the airport requires the presentation of certain documents that people often keep on their mobile phones, so the document recommends that people print out these important documents and bring an external mobile phone charger. “Your airport pass is your lifeline,” the document said.

Deputy Kosal/AFP via Getty Images

On August 20, 2021, Afghans gathered on the roadside near the military part of Kabul Airport, hoping to flee the country after the Taliban military took over Afghanistan.

However, it warns that some of the information it provides may not necessarily be trustworthy, especially the collection of names and organizations that help people escape.

“I have listed some contact information below, but I cannot guarantee the authenticity of these items 100%,” the author wrote. “I don’t recommend relying on these benefactors for any high-risk Afghan: remember that anyone can build these projects and use them to fish your data, including the Taliban.”

Ayubi said she didn’t know when she would try to escape.

She said that as of Friday, she and her children, mother, cousins ​​and friends were hiding in a low-income community because her company’s “loyal employees” stood at the door and brought them food. In the past, these people worked for Ayoubi at Niko Design, a boutique that sells gorgeous living room furniture, children’s bunk beds, lawn furniture, and brand-name clothing under the Ayoubi brand-Maria Clothing, Maria Bride and Maria Carpet. Ship hand-woven Afghan carpets to all over the world. Now, they are her last line of defense against the Taliban.

She said that Ayoubi’s days are ambiguous, check Twitter for updates, vent online, search for the latest information on safe routes to travel abroad, then disconnect from the Internet and think “our chances of survival are very low.” She said that at present, she is unable to plan for most of the future, but hopes to eventually leave Afghanistan in some way.

“This is the complete opposite of the lives of me and my children,” Ayubi said. “I built my life from scratch, and now we are back to square one.” ●


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