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Rediff.com  » News » 'I have survived many attacks and explosions'

'I have survived many attacks and explosions'

By ABHIJIT MASIH
August 31, 2021 08:21 IST
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'I have never been afraid of death or threats, and I have never wanted to give up and silence my voice.'

IMAGE: Roya Heydari at the Hamid Karzai international airport before leaving Afghanistan. Photograph: Roya Heydar/Twitter

She was forced to leave her home and country on August 21, exactly a week after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

Roya Heydari is a film-maker and photographer whose social media posts feature breathtaking images of her beloved homeland and its people.

Roya considers herself a simple artist who loves and worships photography. She has worked in Afghanistan as a news photographer for over eight years.

She was born in exile and returned to her homeland when she was 10 and is a possible refugee once again.

"We did not bow down and did not surrender. We protested without having any support. We raised our voices and fought for our rights," She tells Rediff.com's US Contributor Abhijit Masih.

 

What good memories do you have of your homeland, Afghanistan?

For me, Afghanistan was a challenging home where I found and built myself.

All the efforts I made to establish my identity are unforgettable for me.

Traveling to different provinces of Afghanistan, talking to people and writing their stories, and all the days I have been in my homeland are valuable and unforgettable for me.

What did you feel when the Taliban took control of Kabul and the country?

I do not have a specific word or phrase to describe the answer to this question.

I can only say that I have collapsed like a building, and I am in pain. So much pain!

How did you get out? Do you have family still in Afghanistan?

I struggled like so many others to be able to get out of the country.

It was an unforgettable and painful experience.

Yes. My family, relatives, and my friends are still in Afghanistan.

You are an inspiration to Afghan women. What message do you have for them in these dark times?

In all this darkness, I am lost and looking for a glimpse of light.

I have not lost hope, and I try to concentrate and strengthen myself to be a loud voice for them.

It is the time for all of us to restore our strengths and be there for each other.

IMAGE: Roya Heydari with her weapon, the camera. Photograph: Roya Heydari/Instagram

Do you think that as a woman active on social media and with so many followers, you are in danger?

I have never been afraid of death or threats, and I have never wanted to give up and silence my voice.

Resistance and strength are not to die in this war, but to be alive so that you can be a louder voice for your generation and people.

Have you ever been threatened by the Taliban?

I have lived in Afghanistan for many years.

I have always tried to live a healthy life and be an example of mercy and goodness to others.

I have endured many hardships, and several groups have threatened me, but my people have never felt threatened.

My strength was in the honesty of my people.

IMAGE: One of the photos taken by Roya Heydari. Photograph: Roya Heydari/Instagram

How normal was life for you in the last 20 years?

I lost many friends. I have survived many attacks and explosions.

My life in these twenty years has been full of many challenges and lessons, and I am thankful every day for this life and for being alive.

What message do you want to send to the world?

We did not bow down and did not surrender.

We protested without having any support.

We raised our voices and fought for our rights.

In these twenty years, we have seen nothing but the slogan of cooperation and help from the world.

I will not forget that you did not extend a hand of friendship and humanity to us except for writing news and talking on the media about us.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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