A Short Film By Maryam Ebrahimi
One snowy morning 15 figures appear in traditional Afghan mourning costumes in one of the most crowded public spaces in Kabul. This place is called “Zarneghar” Park. It is notorious for its background as the public place where the Taliban committed mass executions in the past.
The figures stand in a queue on the top of the hill in the most central part of the city, where everybody passing by can see their unexpected presence.
More than 30 years of war and violence in Afghanistan has brought about a collective anxiety among people. Under the influence of such anxiety, all social acts can be interpreted brutal and all public spaces introduce themselves implicitly as “death rows.”
Despite a ban on public executions since the taliban’s fall, people’s minds are still preoccupied by the brutal images of suppression and humiliation in public spaces.
“The Death Row” is a short documentary about public reactions to the artistic act of 15 Afghan women who fight for women’s education right in the form of performance.
15 schoolgirls were attacked by acid in south Afghanistan. Their guilt was going to school. To protest against systematic suppression against women’s education in Afghanistan, 15 female artists stand in silence with their mourning costumes on in central Kabul. They do this to attract attention to the request for women’s educational rights. The action creates interaction among the spectators.
This is the first time in Afghanistan that a group of women are encouraged to perform such as this in public. In a country that is threatened every day by possible suicide attacks from fundamentalist groups – a protest gathered especially for women’s rights can be an effective step towards paving the way for democratization in post-taliban Afghanistan.
But it is not going to be a smooth way. Dark images from more than 3 decades of violence have closed people’s eyes, so that preconception and forejudge wont allow them to approach the message of the act.