Kabul University attack - campaign against normalization of tragedies

“Watching bodies of the victims and collecting body parts of humans have become normalized [actions] in Afghanistan. I think years-long efforts have been made to create this situation,” says Asiya, who says she fight against normalization of tragedies. “Photos of the dismembered victims must not be shared [on social media]. This situation must not be normalized. It must change,” Asia noted, adding that she and her fellow campaigners raise awareness about importance and rights of humans.

Deadly terrorist attacks, developments on peace process, and other events make headlines on a daily basis in Afghanistan. These headlines contribute to the repression of public outrage, ignorance, and collective forgetting. These incidents and developments change the circumstances and the cause the authorities and the perpetrators to remain largely unaccountable and the victims forgotten.

It was around 11:23 AM on Monday, November 02, Asiya was on her way to her office, when she heard about that day’s deadly attack on the university. The news made her to become worry of her younger sister, who newly got admission at German Language Literature Department of the university.

Asiya moved out of her office and rushed to Kabul University. On her way, she called her sister several times, but received no answer. While the militants and security forces were clashing inside the university, Asya received a voice message on her Whats App from her sister assuring her that she had hidden in a safe place. “I was worried. My sister is seventeen and she was never put in such a horrendous situation. She was scared and that was obvious from her trembling voice,” Asiya says.

Three armed assailants attacked faculty of Law and Political Science at Kabul University, where Asiya had to take an exam two weeks later. After seven hours of clash inside the university, 23 students were killed and 40 others wounded.

Asiya says the tragedy at Kabul University was a huge shock for her sister and she was still suffering from its trauma. She could neither eat nor speak for three continuous days. “It was the first day at her university when she had to run from Law Faculty to the southern gate of the university [to save her life]. Since that day, she has been afraid of attending her courses at university,” Asya added.

Campaing against normalization of tragedies
Asia was graduated from Law and Political Science Faculty of Kabul University in 2019

The attack on Kabul University occurred ten days after the suicide attack on a tuition center, Kawsar-e-Danish, in Pul-e-Khushk, a neighborhood in western Kabul. 41 students were killed and 80 others were wounded as a result of the attack.

These recent attacks caused numerous reactions on social media. A large number of media activists accused the country’s security and defense officials of negligence in providing security and called for their resignation.

In response, the government however have only introduced a number of police personnel and head of PD3 to Attorney’s General Office.

The Kabul University attack also provoked a number of students and social activists to protest. They demanded a probe into the deadly incident and cancellation of intra-Afghan talks until the Taliban accept a nationwide ceasefire. However, due to security threats, the number of protestors were limited. Despite knowing the danger of participating in demonstration, Asiya joined the protest. “I do not want the next victim to be my sister, brother, or any other member of my family. If we die this time, we will die for defending our rights,” she said.

This protest, however, ended in fragmentation and without any efficient result.

Asiya’s main concern is the ephemeral reactions of the people after every crime and a human tragedy in the country. She says that two days after attack on Kabul University, everyone started talking about US election and completely forgot to seek justice for the victims of Kabul University.

Although, reactions towards attacks on Kabul University and Kawsar-e-Danish educational center decreased on social media, Asiya did not quit and continued writing against the attacks on social media. She says that she will continue fighting against bloodshed and normalization of crime in Afghanistan.

Since the attack on Kabul University, Asiya has written 20 Facebook posts in most of which she has asked her audiences to do something to stop bloodshed and prevent normalization of attacks in the country. In one of her status she wrote, “For how long the terrorist activities must continue? We pay tax for our smallest work. The salaries for all government employees are paid from our tax starting from intelligence team to security and defense forces. What are these employees doing? Why they cannot provide security for the citizens? The government must be held accountable for these shortcomings. Ghani baba [President Ghani], it has been nearly six years that you have been ruling the country. What have you done? Can you smell the blood of innocent people or can you hear them whining? Can’t you? Then we invite you to an open debate with the nation.”

Asiya has already launched a campaign for victims of Kabul University attack on social media. So far, 150 people joined her campaign. “We take social media seriously by spreading messages on peace. We talk about those nations that succeeded to overcome prejudice against minorities and became a united nation. We generally share messages on importance of life and humanity,” Asiya says.

She and her teammates have planned to work on strengthening solidarity and unity in the country. According to Asiya, four decades of war in Afghanistan has created distance among people of different ethnicities. “We will talk about solidarity and unity to people so that they would not hate each other again. We will bring people together and create a nation with a good governance system which can assure security of people and eliminate terrorist activities,” she spoke of her hope.

Asiya and her teammates want to step further and expand the campaign to every alley and corner of Kabul city to eradicate prejudice. Despite the small steps that she has been taking, she is positive and believe that her steps will have a positive outcome. “We talk about the importance of humanity to each person so that they would understand about their values and rights.”

This story has been developed by Etilaatroz’s Lutf Ali Sultani and translated by Fatema Hosseini

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