The Story of Maryam Shafayee (Mother)

Victims’ Names: Asadullah Shafayee, Hikmatullah Shafayee

Date of Incident: July 23, 2016

Place of Incident: Dehmazang Square, Kabul

I tried to stop them. Assadullah insisted, “It is not just for electricity, we are fighting for our rights and justice” and Hikmatullah, my elder son, repeated, “Mother, we have to pay/fight for bringing justice.” Angry because they were leaving, I shouted: “At least, have breakfast.”  They did not accept and when walking out, Assadullah turned to me and asked for some dried apricots. I mixed some raisins, peas, and dried apricots, wrapped the dried fruits and a few bottles of water in a small plastic bag and gave it to Asadullah. I once again begged them to give up joining the protest. Not accepting, they asked me to walk with them and not be afraid of anything. I could not since I was suffering from leg pain so they suggested I only follow them. After they left, I gave some flour to the neighbor as alms and followed my sons but could not reach them no matter how fast I walked.

When I arrived in the Dehmazang Square at around 12:00 AM, the weather was hot and a huge crowd of protesters had gathered there. A few men approached and asked us, the women, to find and sit in some shade as the heat might get us sick. We went to a corner and sat to drink some tea.

Suddenly, a huge explosion occurred. I fell on my face and another girl fell on top of me. Struggling, I stood up and looked back at the explosion scene. It was a terrible situation. I started shouting and slapping my face. Coming back to my senses, I approached three young women, who were helping the injured and collecting dismembered bodies, and asked them to help me find my two sons. While I was talking to them, the police forces arrived. They asked me to stop crying and leave the area and said that my sons are safe and that they will get back to me. At that moment, another horrific explosion occurred. I did not know where I was and couldn’t stop crying. The police had taken me somewhere close to the Kabul Zoo and wouldn’t let me go back to the square. A young man helped me get back home. At the incident scene, I could not make out who is alive and who’s dead.

When I walked in, I noticed noise but could not identify what was going on. Someone came up to me and told me that Hikmatullah and Assadullah had been injured. Hearing that, I became unconscious. Hikmatullah had been killed in the scene. The next day we came to know that Assadullah had also been martyred. I was not allowed to see their bodies so I never saw them again. I heard that explosive shrapnel had hit Assudullah’s head and Hikmatullah had bled from numerous wounds on his body.

Hikmatullah was 28 and Assadullah was only 15 years old. Hikmatullah had just graduated from university and was looking for a job to help us. His only child was 7 months old when he was killed. Asadullah was studying at Merafat High school and was the top student of his class. His classmates and teachers always referred to him as a genius student with a shining future.  Instead of witnessing their death, I always wish I had been killed with them. When their bag was returned to us, I found that they hadn’t even eaten the dried fruits.


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