AwareNow: Issue 19: The Source Edition

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Page 13

Allié: So they pretty much just managed to just shut everything down and keep everyone in the dark.

Mehr: Yes. Yes. It's completely like that.

Allié: So, a couple of questions… I mean, again, because this was not expected, like you're saying... people are coming to Kabul thinking that, you know, this is going to be where we can be safe and figure things out. And for this to happen... Two questions. What is the biggest fear for you, for yourself? And then also, what is the biggest fear for your country right now?

Mehr: Thank you, Allié. The biggest fear for me is my life, because I don't know if I will be safe or not. I told you I wasn't gonna go to the media of Afghanistan. The job was very optional for me. If I liked, I would work the job. If I didn't like, I had the shows... No one was there to tell me you should work a job. And there is like hundreds and thousands of my pictures in the social media and everywhere and everywhere that I don't have a job. And I'm very cool on the pictures. Don't accept that. I was one of the person who always talked against the Taliban, which now I'm targeted for that. They are searching for me because my friends, me and my colleagues, everyone we will hide because we know they are searching for me. Who sent me? Taliban have killed a family member of an editor I think, yeah. He was an editor… They killed his family member because they were searching for him. They couldn't find him. So to kill off his family members. I'm afraid because currently I've had to... I left my house, but my mother I'm a father... I'm the youngest member of my family, my siblings, they are at home, and I'm afraid. What if something happens to them? If you know what, Taliban's tolerance... (just give me one second) And you know what Allié, Taliban, they're not the only threat right now for me, because it's not guaranteed for me that they will keep me alive or not. I will be alive or not. What about the prisoners that the Taliban recently released for the different provinces of Afghanistan? They released thousands of the prisoners, the criminals, who are now in the streets, who are now in the other provinces. They will kill us. What about our own people in cultural city, like Kabul in Afghanistan. What is the people enter into our homes at night? What if the people and the groups that are against the Taliban in Afghanistan... that are working against Taliban in Afghanistan. What if they kill me, just to show the world... to say that they are not changed? We are targeted by many groups right now. Actually, we don't know who to trust. Trust me. The only thing that comes to my mind right now is who to trust. Do you know when that day the Taliban took the control of the city, the capital, the Kabul. When the entered to the National TV of Afghanistan, through our television, they announced that this is an Islam country after this, when we saw the video, one of our colleagues from the social media department was with them. I saw him. When I saw him, I was shocked that he was my colleague. We talked, we worked together, but he was one of their members... Since that day, I don't know. Even, I don't know how to trust my colleagues. I don't know who is with them. I don't know who's working for them.

Allié: So for you, for yourself, what do you... You will then just go, continue to change your address daily and find refuge with friends and family and just try to stay one step ahead... Is that the plan?

Mehr: Allié, to be honest, I don't know what to do. Trust me, because I can't go out of my home because as the Taliban says, no one is allowed to go without their mahram outside of the city. So I have my brother. My brother is 17 years old. I can't go with him out because they know he's my brother. He's hiding with me. We both are hiding because we can't go out of our home. People knew me very well. Even, trust me, even if I covered my face, they know me by my voice, my sound, the way I speak. If I just talk to one person for the one minute, they will notice that this is me. Having three hours live show in TV for the last five years. So people knew me very well. Even if I talk, even if I talk, around the street or with someone who just watched my program for four or five days, they will notice this is me. We can't go out. We can't talk with anyone. We can't go even to the hospital, if we need anything. The only thing I have to do is to stay home in a place that no one could find me, turn off my phones, turn off my local contact, my local SIM cards... And just be... hide. Trust me. And even if I need something where I am, even if I need something when we are hungry... we want to eat something, we want to have... we need some medicine or something because I'm not in my home. I'm somewhere. Oh, I don't have anyone to tell to bring me that. I can't see my mom and my dad, because I don't know... what if track my my mom and my dad and they track our phone calls and they track them, to find us. We are just completely in a room, locked like a prison. I have no way out, nowhere to go outside. And I don't have any idea what to do. 13 AWARENOW / THE SOURCE EDITION