In August 2021, a world collapsed in Afghanistan and chaos took place. Thus, the operation to rescue Afghan judges and prosecutors has become a duty for any colleague of them in any other state.
In a brief interview on 16 August 2021, Afghan Judge Tayeba Parsa (Kabul Court of Appeal) expressed serious concerns about the fact that, after the fall of the government, Afghan judges (and especially women judges) would be killed without any further guilty trials, as they were already sought at home.
In the face of such an unimaginable situation, the international community could not remain careless. In addition to international pressure for the newly established regime to respect human rights, it was necessary to immediately open all forms of humanitarian assistance.
The reactions that followed the interview were multiple, involving unknown forces and hopes that no one could shape.
With the help of the Polish Government, the International Association of Women Judges and a hearty lawyer in Warsaw, Anna Kruszewska, to whom the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association provided all the support, maintaining the non-stop dialogue on WhatsApp, Tayeba Parsa and some of her colleagues were saved.
The operation was described, for the Romanian press, by the Polish Ambassador to Bucharest, Mr. Maciej Lang, participant in evacuation from Afghanistan: “We communicated on WhatsApp in the first place and these people received messages when about and where they needed to be. Because there were two places we could get people from. In front of the airport gate and out of the drain. It’s an open channel through which wastewater flows from the city’s sewer. It’s just not covered. I think it’s 2 meters deep, and it’s 5 meters wide. The people we had contact on WhatsApp received information, messages that they had to come there and our soldiers were waiting for them there, on the other side of the sewer channel. The drain was near the airport. Then there was the issue of physically extracting these people. The Afghans came from one side and grouped on a shore. The soldiers were on the opposite side of the canal. A signalling and identification system was developed because there were crowds of people. There was water down to the knees in the canal. Those who came in, went into the canal and identified themselves. Then they waited until our soldiers could extract them. It was very hard. The people who were in the sewer channel, like I said, had a sign, a sheet of paper with a word, a password, and after I wrote down their presence, I checked if the people I was looking for were true, and in this case I could get them out. It was usually about families. And we had to find someone from a certain family and then other members. After we pulled these people out of the canal, I checked their identity once again and transferred them to a temporary camp. When we had a group of 100 people I was transferring to the airport in the military section where the planes were waiting. I’ve extracted over a thousand people. Polish citizens, but mostly Afghans. And we helped other international partners and international organisations that organised evacuation operations.”
At the same time, following the public call made on 16 August 2021 by the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, in September, 6 judges and one Justice auxiliary, as well as their families, all Afghan citizens, were evacuated through the constant effort and support of the crisis cell within the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which carried out the necessary procedures to bring these people under the protection of the Romanian state.
The episode was told by an Afghan university professor, Zaker Hussain Ershad, for a daily newspaper in Bucharest: “At some point, the Romanian authorities contacted me: You need to get ready. A Romanian agent will handle your evacuation. After we met, I took my wife and five children and went to Kabul airport. Just when we were at the main entrance gate to the airport, there was a massive explosion next to us. I was a few hundred yards from the plane I had to leave on, but I couldn’t move forward. We’re back out of the way. Three of my students, who were there, died. I saw them with my own eyes (Zaker Ershad starts crying) Please excuse me. I can’t control myself when I remember those moments. Where did you go from Kabul airport? The only option was to leave for Torkham, a city on the Pakistan border. It was the hardest way, because I had to stay hidden. I’m a public figure in Afghanistan, so some Taliban could recognise me at any time. I consulted with my family and chose to take that risk. We drove alone, with two cars made available by Romanians. We were astonished with fear. I changed my clothes, put on a strange hat, tried to camouflage myself the best I could. The Romanians helped us, but they were unable to accompany us. Luckily, no one stopped us. From Torkham, I went to Islamabad, to the Embassy of Romania. From there to Dubai, where we could get to Bucharest.”
All these Afghan refugee judges in Romania, in the Galati Refugee Centre, are constantly helped by Romanian judges and prosecutors with food, clothes, other goods of strict necessity, with donations on an individual basis and on collective professional basis or as a result of the public subscription launched by professional associations (Initiative for Justice Association – Banca Comerciala Romana account RO52RNCB0203162579230005, where you can also make donations in EUR). These funds also supported the travel of family members of these magistrates, refugees themselves, from Afghanistan by their own means.
Afghan judges and other refugees follow psychological and accommodation programs in Romania, have begun studying the Romanian language and have to start life again. “I think it’s an opportunity for me to teach in Bucharest, at the Faculty of Political Science, but we haven’t discussed any details yet. I’m here in Galati for now. I don‘t know what’s going to happen, because I don’t know Romanian language. Maybe I’ll take some classes to talk about political science and the Islamic world. I have over 10 years of experience at the department, so I trust that I will be able to share new ideas in the field of political science”, says Professor Zaker in the same interview.
The refugees in Galati are of all age categories, being 43 children (from 3-month-olds to students in terminal classes). Children need school, young people need university training.
Fawad’s wife, a refugee at Galati Centre, former judge of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan, is still wanted by the Taliban: “My family was well known in Afghanistan. The Taliban came to our house, asked about my wife. We gave up everything. I gave up everything I had. I left with only one luggage, and I couldn’t get their clothes from home,” says Fawad. He won the freedom to live instead. And a life he wants to build now in Romania. Children seem to get through the most painful memories and worries about the future. We’ll find a few of them on the football field. The Centre works like a student home. Kids, adults, they’re all self-sustaining. They play football, they play in the parks here. This is how a normal life goes for the 139 Afghans, Romanian media comment. 
The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association is trying to transfer Afghan colleagues and their families to Bucharest in order to have more possibilities for integration. The Ministry of Justice refused to get involved, but a few universities are ready to offer help. In Poland, accommodation conditions are better, fortunately.
However, dozens of judges remain in Afghanistan who desperately request the help of the Romanian Government and the associations of Romanian judges for evacuation. These are people who can at any time be killed by the Taliban authorities, who are at the highest risk (judges, prosecutors, journalists, officials), people who survive dramatically, changing their hideout very often, deprived of food, practically sentenced to death.
Professor Zaker Hussain Ershad tells the drama of those who remain in Afghanistan: “I have a lot of friends and former colleagues who are now hiding in Kabul. They are in mortal danger, there’s no exaggeration at all. They didn’t have this chance I had. I am grateful to the Romanians for saving my family and bringing me here. I would have been killed, if I stayed in Kabul, I wouldn’t have had a chance. Hussein, my youngest child, is still traumatised. He’s thinking about his schoolmates, everything he left behind. It’s very difficult for him. I‘m safe now, but my colleagues who stayed in Afghanistan aren’t. I kindly ask you and those who will read this interview: save the people of Kabul! Save the people of Afghanistan! We have to do this for them! We all have a moral responsibility towards these people.
Professor Zaker’s thoughts are not singular. Weekly we receive requests from fellow judges or prosecutors on WhatsApp. They live in an impossible terror, changing their hideout every night.
We offer you some of the testimonies of such colleagues, which we anonymise so as not to endanger them:
- „Once again, help me and my family! We are all very tired of this situation, we do not know what to do, our only hope is to get out of here in some way.”
- „Hello and politely, I would like to point out that in addition to being a judge in my family, my father has also been a judge for 20 years, and now the Taliban arrested my father and they are looking for me to find me, and before the fall of the government by the Taliban, we were threatened with death several times by the Taliban, even once above us. here was an armed attack in which one of our family members, (…), was wounded and shot in the hand. Now we escape, we are hiding somewhere else, and the Taliban have come several times behind the gates of our house to arrest us. My life and my family are in serious danger. and the Talibans think that we are the infidels because we ruled according to the laws of the time and I hope we will get rid of this miserable situation.”
- „taliban took all the provinces and all the prisoners and LawBreakers are free now. Most of them are searching for me and asking about my home and family members. I am in danger with my wife and two little child. I am from an educated family. My father is (….) and my mother is (….) in public school. My elder brother is (…). Younger brother is graduated from (…) faculty. Another young brother is a (…) student. My sisters have (…) in public school. We are all educated and a bright family. Please consider my problem I am really in danger and I am hidden in my sister’s home. Please help me and save my life.”
- „try to get me out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. Wild terrorists are shooting at the streets with guns and waiting for foreign forces to leave. Please try to save my life. Time for evacuation is very short. How can I get out of the house? Help me.”
- „please save my life and my family! With the help of my friends, I moved the furniture to another location. I‘m hiding in my friends’ house. According to my friends, Unidentified gunmen came to the back of my house several times and asked me where the judge was.”
Another fellow Afghan judge, under anonymity, released the following for Romanian Television: “We are in a very difficult situation. My family and I are hiding in Afghanistan. If the Taliban or other prisoners released from prison find us, they’ll kill us. Every night or at most every 2-3 days, we change our hideout because the situation is extremely dangerous. I kindly ask Minister Bogdan Aurescu to help us to get out of Afghanistan for a quiet life in Romania. Please kindly help us. We’re in imminent danger. Sooner or later, the Taliban and the ones I’ve condemned will take revenge. They’ll kill us!
Romanian Judges’ Forum Association has specifically asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to continue to engage in the rescue of Afghan judges and prosecutors whose lives are endangered (“Do not let innocent people be hunted and cruelly killed!” The Association also addressed the President of Romania asking for a decision to be taken at the highest level to save Afghan colleagues.
Fortunately, hope seems to appear from the south, namely from Greece: 26 judges and lawyers were evacuated to Athens.
“ To save one life is as if you have saved the world” (Talmud).
 See webpage https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/general/articol/ambasadorul-poloniei-la-bucuresti-maciej-lang-participant-la-evacuarea-din-afganistan-am-scos-oamenii-prin-canalul-de-scurgere-al-orasului .
 See webpage https://observatornews.ro/social/cei-139-de-afgani-care-au-fost-ajutati-de-statul-roman-sa-fuga-in-ultima-clipa-din-calea-talibanilor-duc-o-viata-noua-vor-sa-studieze-si-sa-munceasca-in-romania-440690.html .
 See, for example, the webpage http://stiri.tvr.ro/exclusivitate-un-judecator-afgan-aflat-pe-lista-neagra-a-talibanilor-cere-romaniei-ajutor-pentru-a-putea-fugi-din—ara–magistratul-a-judecat-doar-cazuri-de-violen–a-impotriva-femeilor_892005.html#view.
 The Afghan judge asking Romania for help to flee the Taliban-led country is 35 years old. He’s the father of a little girl for a few years, and his wife is a journalist. In recent years, he has only tried cases of violence against women in a court of appeal: from beatings and rapes, forced marriages to killing. Now, he has to run away to save his life and his family. See http://stiri.tvr.ro/exclusivitate-un-judecator-afgan-aflat-pe-lista-neagra-a-talibanilor-cere-romaniei-ajutor-pentru-a-putea-fugi-din—ara–magistratul-a-judecat-doar-cazuri-de-violen–a-impotriva-femeilor_892005.html#view.
 Ph.D. Judge, Bucharest Court of Appeal, co-president of the Romanian Judges‘ Forum Association, Director of the Judges’ Forum Review. Professional e-mail: email@example.com.
 Judge, Bucharest Court of Appeal, co-president of the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association. Professional e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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