[Ed. Note 08/10: The last names and images of Afghans have been removed from csfilm.org due to the colapsed security situation in Afghanistan.]
Update on the rapid gains of the Taliban and its impact on filmmakers and others that have worked with CSFilm: The horror of the Taliban taking Kabul and power is terrifying millions. Basir, coordinator for CSFilm of the Afghanistan21-LookListenLocal campaign, tried to take his family to the airport in the middle of the night. He received information that the Americans were sending airplanes to take out all humanitarian workers who felt at risk. Here is his audio account of his experience and a video he shot from inside the Kabul airport of people swarming a US military plane.
You have likely seen the horiffic videos of people trying to climb onto the plane as it taxied and then falling as it took off:
CSFilm does not wish to encourage the brain drain that Afghanistan has suffered due to the American war and insurgency. But in the volatile situation of atrocities, targeted killings, and displacement we have submitted referrals for asylum to a program announced by the United States Refugee Admissions Program on August 2nd. Following congressional legislation, the ‘P2 Designation for Afghan Nationals’ will allow 8000 Afghans to apply for asylum, including those who have worked with US-based media or non-governmental organizations.
We have submitted all required information and RECEIVED NO CONFIRMATION OR ACKNOWLEDGMENT from USRAP. Please call or write your congresspeople to demand that they followthrough on the promise to protect Afghans who worked with United Sates non-governmental and media organizations. These are the people who worked independent of the US government and without steady pay from the US governement to establish human rights, media, journalistic and other organziations to support the democrizing and development of Afghanistan.
Here is a run down of how Afghans who worked with CSFilm are doing:
Aqeela, maker of The Road Above has continued to work extensively as a filmmaker and well-known actor in cinema and TV. She is at great risk. We referred her for asylum.
Hasib, maker of ‘L is for Light, D is for Darkness‘, is a working video journalist for a TV station in the capital of Takhar province, which was overrun by the Taliban on Sunday. Hasib and his wife are ok but his sister was badly shaken by the violence and has safely reached Kabul. We referred Hasib and his wife for asylum.
Rahmat, editor and mentor for a few of The Fruit of Our Labor (TFOL, 2010) films, has been unable to get out of a military base in Taliban controlled Helmand where he is on contract to an American company working for the Afghan military. All Foreigners have left and the battlefront situation for the remaining Afghan staff is traumatizing. Until taking this job in IT support, Rahmat has worked over the last 10 years as a freelance documentary filmmaker. We referred Rahmat and his wife for asylum.
Baqir, (maker of Beyond Fatigue) and Jamal (program translator and coordinator) received asylum in Canada some years ago. Similarly, Mehdi, (program coordinator), Jawed and Hamed (editors and mentors for several TFOL films and filmmakers), Zahra (maker of Hands of Health) and Mona (maker of Bearing the Weight) moved to or received asylum in Europe at different times over the last 10 years.
Reza, maker of Searching for a Path, and an active documentary photographer and filmmaker, has over the last several years suffered attacks by gangs leading to physical injury, the ransacking of his home and the theft of his camera equipment and car. He attempted to get his family out of the country in 2019 but was not successful and is for the time being doing filmmaking and photography for the Agha Khan Foundation. We are referring Reza and his wife for asylum.
The irresponsible departure of foreign forces without the implementation of a long-term peacekeeping force leaves Afghans once again in the crossfire of a conflict fueled by a century of regional meddling and geopolitics.