15 August 2023

Kites flown in London in solidarity with Afghans on Taliban takeover anniversary

15 August 2023

Colourful kites have been flown in the sky over London in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan on the two-year anniversary of the Taliban takeover.

One Afghan refugee now living in the UK said those involved wanted to be “a voice, far from our home” for all those who are now living under the oppressive regime, especially women and girls.

The gathering, at a park in the north of the capital on Tuesday, followed a similar event last August where the Good Chance theatre teamed up with Afghan artists and more than 70 partners globally for what they said was the world’s largest ever international kite festival.

This year’s gathering was expected to be smaller and more informal but no less important, according to Afghan refugee Amir Hussain Ibrahimi.

He told the PA news agency: “For women and girls we want to be a voice, far from our home.

“We just want to show that Afghanistan was colourful, Afghanistan was full of nice culture, nice people, the girls who just want to improve themselves (through education), the women who were working with men shoulder-to-shoulder to improve their country.

“And a lot of things have been lost and deleted, especially hope. The people of Afghanistan lost hope.”

The 24-year-old said that, as during their rule in the 1990s, the Taliban had now once again banned many activities that bring people joy, including kite-flying.

“One of the more important parts of our Afghan culture is these amazing multi-coloured kites and we fly them, make them, design them since we were children,” he said.

“This is something that makes you really proud when you fly them because it is part of a hope for Afghan people.”

He said the tradition, which uses coloured tissue paper and bamboo sticks, is hundreds of years old and kite-flying is a common game in Afghanistan.

But he said even this is no longer allowed by the Taliban, adding: “They have banned anything that people can enjoy”.

He said: “They are called the Taliban and unfortunately they have banned everything. They banned the kites, they banned music, they want to remove women from society and they are trying to delete everything that doesn’t follow their rules.”

He said he feels “proud and happy to share our amazing culture here” in the UK, but feels sad that his fellow Afghans back home have been deprived of so much in the past two years.

He added: “This year is going to be the second since my homeland fell to the Taliban and I am thinking I left my country at that time in one night and everything changed.”

Those taking part in this and other kite-flying events this year were encouraged to use the hashtags #rememberAfghanistan and #flywithme to keep the plight of the Afghan people forefront of the public’s minds.

Mr Ibrahimi, who works as a marketing and production assistant at the Good Chance theatre in east London, has been living in a hotel in Southend-on-Sea for almost two years as he struggles to find long-term accommodation in the UK.

He has previously spoken of the challenging situation on the ground for refugees who are trying to find permanent homes but often struggle despite the Government support provided.

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