'Well and alive': Afghan pop star Aryana Sayeed leaves Kabul for Istanbul after Taliban take over
Aryana Sayeed has been actively campaigning against the Taliban on her social media handles and had called on President Joe Biden and the United Nations to put pressure on Pakistan to stop “supporting” the Taliban
Aryana Sayeed, one of Afghanistan's most prominent pop stars, confirmed on social media site Instagram that she has escaped from Afghanistan and left for Istanbul after the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15. Sayeed posted a selfie on Wednesday taken on a US military evacuation flight headed to Doha."I am well and alive after a couple of unforgettable nights. I have reached Doha, Qatar and am awaiting my eventual flight back home to Istanbul. My heart, my prayers and my thoughts will always be with you," she wrote.
From Doha, Sayeed will be headed to Istanbul where she resides full time with her Afghan husband Hasib Sayed, a music producer, reported news agency ANI. "After I get home and my mind and emotions return back to normal from a world of disbelief and shock, I have many stories to share with you," Sayeed wrote to her followers on August 18.
Sayeed has been actively campaigning against the Taliban on her social media handles and had called on President Joe Biden and the United Nations to put pressure on Pakistan to stop “supporting” the Taliban. “Please ask @unitednations, @potus and the rest of the world to put pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting Taliban and Terrorism by commenting with this hashtag sanction Pakistan,” she wrote on Instagram on August 9.
To help Afghans escape what many fear is going to be a brutal Taliban rule, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on neighbouring countries to keep their borders open, insisting that most Afghans are unable to leave the country as there is no clear way out. "The vast majority of Afghans are not able to leave the country through regular channels," Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson of UNHRC told a Geneva news briefing on Friday. "As of today, those who may be in danger have no clear way out," she added.
Like Sayeed, many popular Afghan online celebrities too fear retribution for their online activity since the Taliban took control. Ayeda Shadab, a social media star, relocated to Istanbul fearing the Taliban’s return. "If the Taliban take Kabul, people like me will no longer be safe. Women like me who don't wear a veil, who work, they can't accept them," she told reporters.
US advocacy group Human Rights First has published guidelines for Afghans on deleting their digital footprints in local languages Pashto and Dari. They had offered similar guidelines to activists in Hong Kong and Myanmar. Social media giant Facebook has also offered Afghans the option of locking their accounts after many activists requested the company.
Since capturing Kabul, Taliban leaders have assured the international community that women will be allowed all rights guaranteed under Islamic laws, but Afghan women fear a return to the Afghanistan of 1996-2000 is imminent.
(With agency inputs)