Are you F@&$^%! Kidding Me?
Organized by: Reece Soltani
What's the REAL PROBLEM here?
November 02, 2016
EVENT DATE Nov 24, 2016
Crowdrise asks us to tell you who we are. But I’m nobody, just a girl from California who had a gut reaction of injustice to a NY Times article. If you want to know who I am - I'm lucky. I'm lucky because I've been validated by a government and qualified to exist as a human being under their definition.
Though, this isn’t about me, so let me tell you Sharbat Gula’s story – perhaps you know her? The famous 1985 National Geographic portrait of the ‘Afghan Girl’ with piercing turquoise eyes.
Sharbat is unlucky. She’s recently been arrested by Pakistani officials for “fraudulently obtaining identity cards,” and upon reading this, I couldn’t help but think “Are you f*&$^@#$ shitting me?”
Check out the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/27/world/asia/afghan-woman-in-famed-national-geographic-photo-is-arrested-in-pakistan.html
Here’s why I was so outraged, Sharbat is representative of over 1 million more displaced and identity-less people due to, in my opinion two things: 1) a failed legal system and capacity to handle refugees and 2) years of war within her region. The next thing I thought was, “But how does criminalizing refugees solve Pakistan’s problem?” The question no one seems to be asking is WHY, why did Sharbat obtain illegal identity documents to begin with?
The article hits it on the head: “Her arrest goes to the heart of an ordeal confronting many Afghan refugees who fled across the border into Pakistan because of decades of war. The Pakistani crackdown on Afghans appears to have intensified since May, when the former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour was killed in a drone strike in Baluchistan Province…. 1.5 million Afghans in Pakistan have received “proof of registration” cards, which protected them from deportation. About one million more who did not get the paperwork resorted to using false identity cards”. Sharbat is within that 1 million.
She obtained illegal documents because her livelihood seemed to depend on it. There is safety in identity and Sharbat represents the larger problem at hand. What seems to have gone by the waste side is another question: Did the Pakistani officials investigating her look into her social context at all? When you will not give an identity card for whatever reason, you leave people with a choice... to do something illegal and protect their livelihood as best they can, or continue being tossed around. Sharbat chose to do something and protect herself.
People who need protection should be protected. That’s what I am fundraising for. If Sharbat is convicted for her fraudulent papers, she faces up to $3000-$5000 in legal fines. That kind of money for her socio-economic class will leave her in poverty and surely worsen the available choices she will have to make in the future. So let’s raise that money. But this too is not about the money – it would be great to keep her out of long-term debt, however that is not the point of this fundraiser. The point is awareness – if you cannot donate, please simply share and encourage others to keep sharing this campaign. It is time we stop labeling refugees as criminals.
How I plan on getting the money to her: the photographer, Steve McCurry has been the person with most contact to Sharbat. The plan is to reach out to the journalists who wrote the article and thereby contact Steve, as he is already financially doing what he can to support this case. The money will either be transferred to Sharbat via Steve, or depending on how well we do, I'll hand deliver it myself to ensure it is placed in the hands of people that will issue Sharbat and people like her an identity card and safety.