The Story of Suhaila Taheri (daughter/sister)

Victims’ Names: Sakhidad, Hikmatullah, Sharifullah, and Hussain Ali
Date of Incident: September 1998
Place of Incident: Qezel Abad, Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Province

Thirteen members of my family including my father, brother, brother-in-law and father-in-law were killed when the Taliban attacked Qezel-Abad. My father was reaping wheat with his tractor when a Taliban militia arrived and took him away. He had asked them to let him at least turn off the tractor but was hit in the head with the buttstock of a gun. My mother had witnessed the entire scene but could not do nothing because they were merciless. She had hidden my brother in the basement to protect him but when he heard the tractor, he escaped the basement and without listening to my sister jumped to the neighbor’s backyard and then to the street where the Taliban saw him and instantly arrested him.
My sister informed my mother but we did not dare to ask for mercy. They took the captives, dozens of civilians, mostly men, to the airport and had them line up. Those from the same family were tied to each other and then were shot in the head with the ones alive watching. My brother had just graduated from high school and had started his bachelor’s studies.
The next time Taliban raided our village, there was no men left. As soon as we heard their voices, we escaped our homes and ran for our lives. I do not remember how I got to my mother’s house but there I saw two men soaked in blood, breathless, and their faces were covered. I shouted thinking they were my father and brother and then fainted and do not remember the rest of it. Later, my mother told me they were my uncle and cousin. For almost three nights and days no one could eat or sleep. We were lost in terror and horror. I never saw my father and brother’s bodies as they were taken from Qezel-Abad to the airport and were killed there with dozens of other civilians. Their bodies were not buried until the Tablian retreated three days later. My father, brother, and brother-in-law’s bodies were taken back to Qezel-Abad and buried there. The Taliban massacred a total of 72 men from the small village of Qezel-Abad.
A year later, when they returned to Mazar-e-Sharif, they took over Qezel-Abad, and buried homes, plants, and farms. Qezel-Abad was no more than a ghost town then with unburied bodies’ stench floating through the ruins. They looted the homes and killed the civilians including my old father-in-law. However, this time we were able to escape to the center and hide in a basement. They spared no one and nothing. When they entered my grandfather’s home, they shot all the men in front of the women and children. If anyone begged for mercy, they were killed instantly. The war took 13 members of my family.
I added their belongings to the Memory Box so that anyone who visits the Museum and sees these objects contemplates for a while and asks oneself if these dark tragedies could ever be compensated for and such grief healed.

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