Afghan film director recounts Kabul escape By Reuters

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© Reuters. Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi speaks during an interview with Reuters after being evacuated from Kabul, in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 18, 2021. REUTERS / Gleb Garanich

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By Margaryta Chornokondratenko

KYIV (Reuters) – Sahraa Karimi had been waiting in line for nearly three hours to withdraw money from a bank in Kabul on Sunday when the bank manager approached and urged her to leave, the sound of gunshots echoing in the distance.

Karimi, an Afghan filmmaker and the first woman to head the state-run Afghan Film Organization, decided on the spot to remove herself, her brothers and nieces from Afghanistan, even though she knew there was chaos at the Kabul airport.

At a hotel in Kiev, Ukraine, he told Reuters about his escape, which he said was done with the help of the governments of Turkey and Ukraine.

“I took my family. I leave my house, I leave my car, I leave my money, I leave everything I have,” he said.

The 36-year-old has sounded the alarm about the return of the Taliban government, saying it will strangle the film industry and women’s rights.

“They don’t support art, they don’t value culture and they will never support this kind of thing,” Karimi said. “And they are afraid of educated and independent women,” he said, adding that Tailban wanted women to be “hidden, invisible.”

The Taliban say they will respect women’s rights within the framework of Islamic law; a senior Taliban leader has said his role will be decided by a council of Islamic scholars.

After leaving the bank and not being able to find a taxi home, Karimi started running through the streets. The director, whose film Hava, Maryam, Ayesha was shown at the Venice film festival in 2019, filmed herself while running, in a video posted on Instagram with more than 1.3 million views.

Karimi and her family were supposed to depart on a flight that was evacuating Ukrainian nationals, he said, but when thousands of Afghans entered the airport hoping to escape, access to their flight was cut off and they left without them.

“The moment we missed the first plane was the saddest moment of my life because I thought, ‘Okay, we can’t go anymore, we’re staying,'” he said, adding that he was concerned that the Taliban would attack his family. than her.

He wanted his nieces to live in a country where “they give you freedom, you have your education. As a human being you must have value, but under the rules of the Taliban, okay, you live, but a miserable life.”

Images circulated on social media this week of Afghans running towards a US military plane and clinging to its side.

“A lot of people just arrived at the airport and, you know, (they were) just … like hugging (the) plane, just to take them away. They were so desperate,” Karimi said.

Having missed the first plane, Karimi got back in touch with the officers who assisted her. She was told to stay away from the crowd and hours later, officials she did not identify took her family to another part of the airport, from where she and her family boarded a Turkish flight to Ukraine.

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