Brazil’s Afghan judges still worry about the Taliban

Brasilia, Brazil (Associated Press)-A female judge named Musca is hiding with her family from the newly-powered Taliban in Afghanistan when an apparent reading error 7,000 miles away helped her completely change Life.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro opened the door to potential refugees from Asian countries in a speech at the UN General Assembly on September 21.

“We will issue humanitarian visas to Afghan Christians, women, children and judges,” he read on the teleprompter-apparently putting the last word “jovens”-young people-in his printed speech Misread as “juizes” or judge.

Whether wrong or not, his government has fulfilled this proposal.

Musca and her family took a bus to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, and then flew to Greece with six female colleagues.

By the end of October, they found themselves in Brazil-apart from their shared love of football, this country has little in common with Afghanistan.

This week, Musca told the Associated Press in an interview with international media for the first time that she and other judges still feared retaliation from the Taliban — some of their members were sentenced in court for various crimes.

She asked not to use her real name and not to disclose her exact location in Brazilian military installations. Her colleague declined to be interviewed by the news media.

Before the Taliban seized power in August, Musca had served as a judge for nearly 10 years. She said her home in the capital Kabul was recently searched.

Muska said there are about 300 female judges in Afghanistan, many of whom are now in hiding and their bank accounts have been frozen.

“We know that they (the Taliban) will not let female judges work. Our lives will be seriously threatened,” she said. “They released all the criminals in the prison. These are the criminals we sentenced.”

The judges who stayed are “very scared and go into hiding. They have serious financial problems, have no salary, are unemployed, and their bank accounts are frozen. They are still in danger,” the judge said. “It’s not good in Kabul.”

The Taliban have won widespread support in Afghanistan, partly because the overthrown US-backed government is widely regarded as corrupt.

“But the female judge was the bravest, strongest and most honest official in the previous administration,” said Musca. She said that US President Joe Biden’s decision to end the US presence in the country meant that she had to leave soon. .

“Everything happened suddenly,” she said.

Judge Renata Gil, president of the Brazilian Association of Magistrates, which sponsors refugees, said that Afghans are “very scared and still feel threatened”.

“They were hunted down because they convicted Taliban fighters,” she said, noting that she herself had received death threats, “because I sentenced drug dealers. For women, this is much more difficult.”

In a speech at the association headquarters in Brasilia, the capital, she said: “I hope they can live independently. But as long as they need it, we will be here to help.”

The judges and their 19 family members-apparently the only Afghan refugees to come to Brazil since the Taliban returned to power-now have Brazilian bank accounts and medical care. Those who can take classes in Portuguese.

It is not clear what their future will be in Brazil, at least they are protected there. But Muska said they wanted to go home one day.

“I hope I can be reunited with my family in Kabul. I have this dream and I am at my home. I miss everything,” the judge said.

Due to security reasons, language difficulties, and her own fears, Muska has not been to Brazil much. But she found someone who was empathetic to her situation.

“They cry with us, and we know they can feel our feelings,” the judge said with tears.

Muska’s three children, including a toddler, also struggled to adapt. The judge used to ask her parents and nanny to help, but in Brazil, she mainly relied on herself while worrying about herself and their future.

The children ran and jumped on the public playground, speaking Dari to each other, and looked happy and energetic. But the judge said that her eldest daughter had some questions that she could not answer.

“She always asks about my parents, her friends, her cousins,” Muska said. “She always asks us questions about the Taliban if they will kill us.”

Despite the difficulties, Muska said she believes that her children will have a brighter future than those who are still in Afghanistan.

“I have hope for them. They study in a good environment, in a good education system,” she said. “They can choose what they can do.”

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