Afghan Filmmaker Needs Help
Think this blog is all about Iraq and Lebanon? Fear not, Afghanistan gets a little time, too, and I received this letter from reader Bob who wanted to draw attention to a real problem over there.
I have a son in the US Army. He spent a year in Afghanistan removing landmines and IEDs. He’s now in Iraq patrolling little villages north of Baghdad. Through his deployment in Afghanistan, I discovered a 6 week consulting job in Kabul, helping launch an educational TV network there in 2005. I’ve kept in touch with several of the staff who have received very serious death threats, and am trying to help them from the US. I sponsored one journalist who had to flee for his life to come to the US on a student visa. After a year, we got him recommended for political asylum.
Another, [Amin Wahidi](http://www.aminwahidi.blogspot.com) went to the Venice Film Festival, but received threats that culminated in “we’ll meet you plane with a suicide bomber when you come back to Kabul.” Italy granted him refugee status for 6 months, but we’re trying to get him into the US to go to school.
Amin’s story is certainly harrowing. He’s a 25-year-old journalist, filmmaker and free-speech advocate from Kabul, who is living the deepening cycle of violence in Afghanistan. It’s reminding many of life under the Taliban, when journalists faced violence and censorship. Today, some of that is coming from the Afghanistan government, Bob writes. “They have been threatened, arrested, jailed, kidnapped, had their studios vandalized, and been beaten.”
Several young media professionals, including women, have been killed. This year, two have been murdered, causing the few educated and creative people to flee Afghanistan. It sounds eerily similar to what’s happening in Iraq.
And the [Committee to Protect Journalist backs him up](http://www.cpj.org/attacks06/asia06/afg06.html). Things have been getting worse for everyone in Afghanistan over the last few years, despite the efforts of coalition and Afghan forces.
Focusing on Amin isn’t fair to the other Afghan journalists who toil every day, but what he wants to do next is illustrative. He wants to come to the U.S. to finish his education, make films and documentaries about Afghanistan and be a lifeline for his left-behind colleagues through the Afghan Academy of Arts and Cinema Education and The Filmmakers Union of Afghanistan. Most important, he wants to return to his native land to make films about the hurdles to entering the modern world.
Perhaps by helping Amin, others can be helped, too. Anyone wishing to help can [email me](mailto:chris@back-to-iraq?subject=Helping Amin) and I’ll forward them on to Amin’s friend Bob here in the states.