Afghan voices: so the Taliban have changed?

Ben Bruges
4 min readAug 18, 2021


Did anyone ask any Afghans?

Does anyone listen to Afghan voices about that or about anything else? Did anyone ask if they wanted a bunch of warlords to drain the country of all the aid money then run away? Did anyone ask if they wanted the international community to act like a security solution was possible and was busy ‘nation building’ until it abruptly wasn’t? Were they all concerned about the rights of girls and women, and then run away, leaving girls and women abandoned?

You probably noticed that the Americans negotiated solely with the Taliban and did not even include the government they had propped up for so long, let alone offer anyone a vote? Are the Taliban offering rights to women and girls, and independent judiciary and a free press? Are the Taliban offering anyone a vote?

I even see posts on media channels asking, for example, “Is there a photographer willing to go to Kabul?” Why not ask for a recommendation for the very many superb photographers, journalists and filmmakers there are in Kabul? Why not ask an Afghan? Why not give them some money rather than yet another international?

I will try to amplify Afghan voices when I can. Getting a real sense of what is happening on the ground in a fluid situation is difficult.

The female aid worker

“We, Afghan women really need for your all support as we are the most vulnerable group.

“We do not want to experience violence (physical, mental, emotional, economical and etc.), early forced marriages, rape, sexual slavery, gender inequality, chronic instability, illiteracy, lack of health services, movement restrictions, losing our jobs, and others. We are psychologically disturbed because we are the ones who will lose our jobs, will be financially dependent, will stay illiterate, will be sexually violated, will be into forced marriages or rape, have to wear the burqa, will have movement restrictions, lose even our basic rights, and will be banned from everything almost.

“We really appreciate your support on this and please consider us. We, Afghan women want to live like other women in the world. Our rights and freedom are in danger. We do not want to stay at home and experience exactly the same as in 1990s. We are worried because our rights, dignity and freedom are in danger.”

The soldier.

Abdul (let’s call him) is a former ANA soldier. I met him when he was guarding Darul Aman Palace, the impressive and ruinous pock-marked symbol of the mujahadeen civil war, now being renovated. I am simply reporting what he said, I do not have confirmation of the atrocities he mentions, but I do know that he’s a wise young man and isn’t given to exaggeration.

“We are worried. Today the Taliban beheaded an tribal elder in Kabul. It was too horrible.

They have announced an amnesty for all, but one of the Badakhshan province tribal elders who, in the past during the civil war, had killed many Taliban in Badakhshan, so when the Taliban had taken over Badakhshan he escaped to Panjshir, then came to Kabul and hid.

When the poor tribal elder heard that the Taliban has announced the amnesty for all, he left his shelter. And then a Talib recognized him, took him off to a specific place and beheaded him.

Yesterday they opened fire on a girl in Jalalabad province and killed her.

Now they are claiming the amnesty for all but unfortunately their horrible action is killing beating and lashing the people.

At the same time while they were entering in Kabul they killed three in Kota e Sangi and one guy in front of Darul Aman Palace near the National Museum.

And four people in Chilsiton near Babor Palace.

They killed three people from Panjshir. And their objective is to kill Pahjshiris and [ethnic minority] Hazara because they count both of them as big rivals and enemies.

This is the Taliban’s rule — every young girls should be get married to them, as they did in the north of Afghanistan.”

He then received a message to get to the airport with his family. So took photos of his ANA pass, burned it and started planning how to get there. The airport is in chaos. The Americans have secured the military side but not the civilian, and armed Talibs were getting trigger happy.

Afghanistan Support Group

We have set up an Afghanistan Support Group on Facebook to organise saving lives. It’s not to share news etc, it’s to save lives. If you have a humanitarian, journalist or logistics background and feel you can help with funding, get in touch. Message if you feel you can make a real difference.

Otherwise, please keep Afghanistan in the news. Please keep informing yourself. Please keep discussing the situation and seeing what help you can make. Thank you.


The Talibs refused him entry to the airport, having promised they wouldn’t stop anyone leaving who wanted to. So how have they changed?



Ben Bruges

“Read widely and speak what you know” — I’ll try, but rarely follow good advice. Here for social use, not social abuse; inclusion not elitism; desire not duty.