It was just 7:30 in the morning when I got to the office, half an hour earlier than usual. A huge protest was supposed to happen that day, and I was afraid of being stuck in traffic. So I came in, sat behind my desk, and turned on my laptop, but I couldn’t start my usual workday. I couldn’t settle down and concentrate. My mind was back in Dasht-e-Barchi, where people were gathering.
I wanted to be there, but I had a professional commitment to my office. I hada long struggle with my feelings, deciding whether I should stay where I work or whether I should contribute to the society where I live.
I decided to join the protest. I could always do overtime at the office, but we the people had only that day to raise our voices to prevent future massacres.
Half an hour later, I was one of tens of thousands of people on the streets of Kabul, rallying toward the Arg – the presidential palace. Our main demand was clear: security. Recently a group of terrorists calling themselves ISIS beheaded seven people in Zabul province, including a nine-year-old girl named Shukria.
I am not a politician, nor am I a civil activist. I am an ordinary citizen of Afghanistan; a web designer who happens to like literature. It was the same with the majority of the people who came out onto the streets of Kabul that day. Among themyou could see students, poets, writers, lawyers, laborers, carpenters, bakers. We came out because we couldn’t bear the brutality anymore. This was the first time that civilians, — women and children among them — were beheaded sosavagely, for no other reason than that they were Hazara.
For Afghanistan, where different ethnic groups are living together, that could be like a spark in a keg of gunpowder. That’s what the enemy — the Taliban, ISIS, and their allies — wants. So the other reason that we came together was to show that now Afghanistan is a united country.
Among the protesters I saw a lot of ethnic groups. Beside the Hazaras, I saw Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pashai, and Hindus among the crowd. It was encouraging and heartening. It became even more encouraging when, the day after the Kabul protest, the people of Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, Bamyan, and Daikundi protested too.
I don’t want to talk about what happened that day. You can read more about it here and here F.or me, it was a great experience. After that day, every time I remember how we stood up, marched, and asked for our basic rights from our government, I feel proud. It was a strong civil protest, from early in the morning till midnight, made by the new generation of Afghanistan. We proved that we are a democratic generation, a generation that is tired of war and makes peaceful demonstrations.
A generation of positive differences.
A generation where women are strong and can protest, side by side with men. Where women walk seven kilometers with Shukria’s coffin on their shoulders, to ask for justice, for Shukria and for the other women and men who were beheaded.
For my generation, we will always remember Wednesday, November 11, 2015. That was the day we showed a united and democratic face of Afghanistan to the world.