An Educational Genocide

An explosion took place in front of the Sayed al-Shuhada girls’ school in one of the remote slums in western Kabul on Saturday. The incident frightened everyone and drew students’ families closer to the event. The second explosion occurred just as parents were anxiously looking for their children.

The sadness of the loss of each individual from this attack has filled the Afghan people. Everyone was rushing after their loved ones, unaware they had lost their children in the aftermath of this barbaric attack. They found their loved ones covered in blood.

In the first minutes of the explosion, the sounds of ambulance sirens stole the peace from the locals and everyone listened to children’s screams. Among the piles of blood and dirt, the hands, feet and heads were separated from the bodies of female students. Young girls went to school with dreams of making a better life for themselves, with the hopes of emerging from poverty and darkness, and to see the light and goodness of life.

After the incident, I went to Barchi with my colleague to report on the families of the victims. The blood, dirt and smoke on the doors and walls of this school could be seen, and we cried for all this oppression and injustice.

Near the Khatam al-Mursalin Mosque, I visited Mukhtar, a witnesses of the incident who had been wounded. Her abandoned house was on the slopes of a hill in Kabul. Poverty and misery were rampant within the homes of these victims.

Mukhtar was hit in her abdomen and legs during the accident and was injured. Her relatives came to her home to inquire about her condition. She continued to tell stories, squeezing her throat with hatred and disgust. Slowly and steadily, she recalled: “I was outside. One of them exploded when I got up, and I was blown away. It exploded again until I noticed that my arms and legs were bruised. My body was full of blood. I was screaming.”

Mukhtar is one of hundreds injured in the incident in Kabul. I went to Soheila’s house, whose family was grieving. Soheila was sixteen years old and an eleventh grade student. She studied English with the wages she earned from weaving carpets and she was scheduled to celebrate Eid in a few days.

But now there is nothing left of Soheila except the carpet weaving machine, a room in the corner of the yard and her books.

We could feel her mother’s tiredness and grief, and she said about her daughter’s talent: “My daughter was very deserving of a new course [in school.] She would have gotten an award in carpet weaving.”

In the first minutes of the incident, the number of killed was 22 and the number of injured was 55. A day later, the figure was confirmed to be 85 killed and more than 100 wounded. This attack brought tears to the eyes of every human being and many complained about the government’s inability to ensure security.

The Presidential Palace condemned the incident and declared a public outcry on Tuesday.

The warring parties in Afghanistan have never respected the rights of civilians, women and children, and a number of terrorists have been accused of genocide. This is not the first time that this has happened in the Barchi neighborhood of Kabul, where Hazaras live. The attack on Kowsar Danesh and the maternity ward in Barchi was one of the bloodiest events for students, women and children in Kabul.

The recent incident in Barchi, Kabul, provoked reactions from the international community, Afghan politicians and citizens. Meanwhile, the Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) issued a multi-article declaration calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan. On the other hand, in this declaration, this institution has called on the international community to pursue the targeted killings of the country’s ethnic groups.

Mukhtar Pedram, the owner of a private newspaper in Kabul, wrote on his Facebook page: “Yesterday (Saturday, May 7, 2021), the girls of Seyyed al-Shohada school were killed in the Barchiyeh plain, west of Kabul. So far, more than 50 dead and 151 injured have been identified. Most of the victims are children. Once again, thousands were targeted in the Barchi Plain on the eve of Ramadan. Again, all mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters – and the whole community – were in a state of panic last night.”

Like many of us, these children, their mothers and fathers were eagerly awaiting the celebration of Eid; But these student girls will no longer experience Eid. This celebration in the shattered minds of these mothers will no longer be a happy occasion.

Why? Why were the female students killed? Why were the dreams and hopes of their parents dashed?

Afghanistan’s independent human rights record has seen an increase in civilian casualties during Ramadan (April 13 to May 7). The commission recorded 130 incidents that resulted in 519 civilian casualties during Ramadan: 160 killed and 351 injured. These figures do not include yesterday’s massacre (attack on the Sayyid al-Shuhada school in western Kabul). There are also many undocumented incidents.

And for what purpose?

-Zahra, Kabul, Afghanistan

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