“It was escape or die”: the bitter testimony of 5 Afghan judges sheltered in Spain

Thanks to the initiative of the Spanish-French association Mujeres Avenir, we discover the stories of 5 women who had to flee the country after the Taliban came to power.

their only crime: to be not only women, but also, above all, judges or magistrates, whose signature made it possible to condemn the Taliban for terrorist crimes or violence against women.

Criminals in prison because of them

This is, for example, the case of an Afghan judge Helena Hofian who told a conference organized by Mujeres Avenir.Afghan refugee judges in Spain: No conquest is irreversible“, which happened on August 15, 2021, when the Taliban entered Kabul.

5 judges
1 Suraya Ahmadiyar 2 Gulalai Hotak 3 Friba Quraishi 4 Helena Hofian 5 Safia Yan Mohammed

August 15, 2021: Life in half of the population collapses

Helena Hofian was in court that day and was told by a Supreme Court colleague that the Taliban had just regained power. He knew very well what awaited him. Because he sent many of them to prison. Moreover, the Taliban recently opened the doors of the Kabul prison, Pol-e-Charkh, the largest prison in the country. That’s why it wasn’t Not a moment to waste…

After that, the judge immediately called her husband, and they ran away with their little girl, without even passing by their house: “I was only thinking of running away to save myself and my family– he recalls. He has to leave everything behind, but remains calm enough to burn all the documents.

The conference hall is crowded
There is no free space to listen to the testimony of these women

7 months pregnant when she leaked

Hofian was seven months pregnant at the time – her second child was born in Madrid – and for 40 days they hid in a village near Kabul, where her fears were confirmed. “The Taliban have been looking everywhere for anyone who worked for former President Ashraf Ghani’s government“.

Alive because they didn’t believe the Taliban had changed

Moreover, when asked if he believed the speech, especially the media, which claimed that this “new” Taliban was different from the Taliban of twenty years ago, Judge Hoffian and his colleagues laugh bitterly. “JI never believed the promise made by the Taliban on August 17, 2021, two days after the storming of the presidential palace in Kabul, that there would be no retaliation!!And luckily for her and 150 Afghan female judges who managed to escape the country.

The French consul speaks to an attentive audience
French Consul Marie Christine Lang was also present

“Afghanistan’s sky is very dark”

For others still in Afghanistan, “The sky in Afghanistan is very darkAccording to the judge, after the Taliban came to power, women did not behave They could not resume their professional activities and theirs Bank accounts are frozen. Besides, these are brave women They persecuted and threatened by the Taliban over the years. In January 2021, two female Supreme Court judges were shot dead while on their way to work in Kabul.

As the president of the association Mujeres Avenir noted, Maria Louise de Contes, for a year now, the situation of women in Afghanistan is terrible. “The freedoms that women enjoyed before have completely disappeared, girls are not allowed to go to school, all women must wear a burka and must be accompanied by their husbands to go out on the street.“.

5 female judges join each other
5 Afghan women who agreed to testify for the association Mujeres Avenir

Safia Jan Mohammad She fled to Spain with her husband, a judge and two children. He lives near Pamplona and tries to rebuild their lives so they can have the future they were denied in Afghanistan. As a judge at the Violence Against Women Court, she has Judged hundreds of cases of violence against women Committed by husbands, fathers, brothers, including murders, rapes, beatings and suicides.

Before the Taliban came to power, we were already threatened and feared for our lives. In August 2021, we realized that we had to escape from a country where women who accuse their husbands, lovers or brothers of violence are killed, where violence is daily, where doctors are trapped to treat the sick and find themselves beheaded. A warning to other women. This is the current reality in Afghanistan.I”.

Women judges and Teresa Pearls
Maria Luisa de Contes and a female magistrate pose with Paralympic champion Teresa Perales, a member of the Mujeres Avenir association.

Friba in Quraish It is known that he researched and Condemned the Taliban terrorists who killed the Spanish doctorL of the Red Cross in Afghanistan. For this judge, the Taliban protect a society where girls and women.They live like slaves in their homes, locked on a piece of bread“. He claims that even “LThe Western world has betrayed its commitment to Afghanistan, and that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is “just a name without substance”, brave women will continue to fight, as in the past, to stand up and rebuild. Freedom in Afghanistan“.

A threat to the whole world

on his side Nazima NezrabHaving taken refuge in Bilbao with his family, he was a judge in the Bagram prison in the special court for crimes against internal and external security and crimes of terrorism. For Nazima, what is happening in Afghanistan with the Taliban is a threat to the whole world. “Citizens are arrested every day, journalists who do not appear, girls are forced into marriage, sold for bread, and although the whole world knows about these violations, we see that people’s sense of humanity has disappeared.“.

All future mujeres wear a headscarf

Gulalai Hotak For its part, it regrets that the progress made by Afghan women in the last twenty years has led them to “They became parliamentarians, candidates for the presidency of the government, businessmen, high-ranking state officials, all this disappeared in one day.For this judge.The restrictions imposed by the Taliban prevent women from working and supporting their families, they have destroyed the future of girls, destroyed the hopes of an entire generation and set society back decades.“.

Unconditional support of international associations of women judges

The five women who agreed to testify owe their lives in part to their intercessionInternational Association of Women Judges (IAWJ in English) andSpanish Association of Women Judges (AMJE) which mobilized to save these women. Thus, a support committee was formed, not only to get their colleagues out of Afghanistan, but also to hide them in safe houses before they could cross the country’s borders. This group has thus He managed to get more than 150 out of 250 from Afghanistan female judges. But unfortunately, women like them are still waiting to leave the country, most of them are hiding in the territory of Afghanistan or in neighboring countries. We must not allow them to sink into oblivion.

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