"They're coming to kill us," wrote Sahraa Karimi, a renowned Afghan film-maker, in an open letter that was sent to global media organizations on 13 August. She is the current general of the Afghan Film Company – the only state-owned film company, which was established in 1968.
Two days after the letter was circulated on social media, the Taliban on 15 August, took control of Afghanistan's capital Kabul.
She also pleaded for help on social media, saying: "If the Taliban take over they will ban all art. Other film-makers and I could be next on their hit list."
The film-maker is also documenting the situation on social media and has posted different videos on Facebook and Instagram showing her fleeing to Kabul airport to join other Afghans who rushed to exit the country.
Director of award-winning films Hava, Maryam, Ayesha, she is the only Afghan woman with a PhD in cinema.
'They Tortured and Murdered One of Our Beloved Comedians'
Karimi, in her letter, wrote that the Taliban have "massacred our people" as they gained control of several provinces in the past few weeks.
She further added that many children had been killed and girls were being sold to Taliban fighters as brides.
Referring to the killing of Nazar Mohamad, popularly known as Khasha Zwan, who was killed by an unidentified gunman in Kandahar last month, Karimi wrote, "They tortured and murdered one of our beloved comedians."
On The Brink of a Humanitarian Crisis
"The families are in camps in Kabul after fleeing these provinces and they are (living) in unsanitary conditions. There is looting in the camps and babies are dying because they don't have milk," Karimi wrote, adding that apart from the political crisis, the country is also on the brink of a humanitarian crisis and "yet, the world is silent".
"We know that the decision to abandon our people was wrong, and this hasty withdrawal is a betrayal of our people and a betrayal of everything we did when the Afghans won the Cold War for the West," she said, adding that the Afghan people were 'forgotten' during the 'reign of darkness' initiated by the militant group in 1996.
A Dark Place For Women
Karimi also elaborated on the situation of women and young girls under Taliban rule, she wrote,
"When the Taliban were in power, zero girls were in school. Since then (after the Taliban rule ended), there have over 9 million Afghan girls in school. This is incredible. Herat, the third-largest city which just fell to the Taliban had nearly 50 percent women in its university. These are incredible gains that the world hardly knows about. Just in these few weeks, the Taliban have destroyed many schools and two million girls are now forced out of school again."
A Call For Help
"If the Taliban take over Kabul, we may not have access to the internet or any communication tool at all," Karimi said, adding that she will stay and fight for her country.
"We need your voice. The media, governments, and the world humanitarian organisations are conveniently silent as if this 'peace deal' with the Taliban was ever legitimate. It was never legitimate. Recognising them gave them the confidence to come back to power. The Taliban have been brutalising our people throughout the entire process of the talks," writes Karimi.
She further added that she has worked so hard to build herself as a film-maker in her country and everything is at risk now.
She concluded the letter by saying, The world should not not turn its back on us. We need your support and your voice on behalf of Afghan women, children, artists, and film-makers."
(With inputs from Outlook India)