Afghanistan has been experiencing a severe social-political crisis since the Taliban came to power. Today thousands of Afghans around the world look at this situation with concern, such as Mohd Hasmat, an Afghan who arrived in Chile in 2017. Hasmat made a call for help to the Chilean authorities to assist his family trapped in Afghanistan.
Today, Afghanistan is the center of world attention, after the United States announced that it was withdrawing its troops, the former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled, and the Taliban took power. Today, the social-political crisis there is out of control, with airports crowded with people desperate to escape the Taliban’s strict control.
Afghan communities around the world look with concern at the reality of their compatriots. Mohd Hasmat, a 38-year-old Afghan businessman who left his country at the age of 17 due to the war and ended up in Chile is very worried about his family back in Afghanistan. Chile Today had an exclusive conversation with him.
“We don’t have human rights”
“Their lives are in danger,” Hashmat said, referring to his family, who count themselves among the Hazara population, a religious minority in Afghanistan that has ceaselessly been harassed since the 19th century. What worries him the most is the “genocide” that the Hazara are now experiencing. “They don’t like us. This is very dangerous for us, for our kids – they can’t play, the daughters can’t go to school either. We don’t have human rights,” he added.
After leaving his native country due to the war at the age of 17, Hasmat lived a convulsive trip around the world. “I grew up as an immigrant,” he noted. After leaving Afghanistan, he went to Pakistan, Iran, Dubai, and Japan in search of opportunities.
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He settled in Japan with his wife and after the birth of their children, in 2012 he established a used car and spare parts dealership. In 2017, he sought new horizons in Chile: “I came to Chile because of the business opportunity,” he explained. When he arrived in the country, he settled in Iquique to continue his business in the city’s free zone, Zofri, where his company remains to this day. His wife and three children continue to reside in Japan and he now divides his time between Japan and Chile.
“The Taliban government gives us only more reasons to worry”
Hasmat’s current concerns are not business: “My life right now is okay, that’s not a problem, but the lives of my family are in danger.” His younger sister, aunt, uncle, and cousin still live in Afghanistan and “their situation is very bad, extremely bad …. The Taliban government gives us only more reasons to worry.”
The religious persecution that his family suffers is not the only thing that keeps Hasmat up at night: he is the only source of income for his sister and her family, and, since the Taliban took over, he has not been able to send any money. “I’m their only help. Now they don’t have anything to eat, they don’t have jobs.”
He has not lost communication with his relatives thanks to the internet and applications such as Whatsapp, but the communications with his sister only increase his anxiety. “She doesn’t have any food to feed her daughter.”
Hasmat made a call to the Chilean authorities for help: “I would like to ask the government and the people of Chile to please listen to our voices and help us, because we are truly helpless.” He added that if the government of Chile could bring his family here, he could give them jobs in his company and support them more directly.
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Hasmat wants his Afghan relatives to come to Chile and not Japan because he believes it will be easier for them to pick up the language and culture here and because “Chilean people are so kind.”
“My experience in Chile has been good,” Hasmat said. “It is a very respectful country in human rights matters, and also the people are well regarded.”
In the meantime, with around 10 family members in desperate circumstances in Afghanistan, and unable to help them with anything but encouraging words, Hasmat waits and watches it all unfold on a screen.
Nelson Quiroz is Chile Today´s photographer. He also writes about youth culture and fashion, and often contributes with photo series during marches and protests.