The Bitchitra Collective aims to provide all forms of support to artists within the collective as well as on issues concerning artists across the world. From issuing statements in support to rallying for funds, we try and respond to the cultural, social, and political situation our members find ourselves in.
BITCHITRA COLLECTIVE’S STATEMENT ON AFGHANISTAN
We, Bitchitra Collective: Indian Women in Documentary, are writing this statement of solidarity with Afghan women and non-binary storytellers, filmmakers, artists, and journalists.
Afghanistan has sunk into chaos and violence—caused most recently by the pullout of occupying U.S. military troops, fall of a feeble presiding government and the effects of a rapid takeover by the authoritarian Taliban regime. Thousands of Afghans are trying to flee the country and find safety. The situation is changing by the minute, and there are immediate humanitarian needs to fulfill.
In addition, Afghan women’s organizations—who have worked tirelessly to foreground their voices and perspectives in a patriarchal society—are expressing fear of further erosion of freedom of speech and human rights, especially for women and girls. As a group of South Asian women/non-binary filmmakers we are especially devastated after reading accounts of Afghan filmmakers and journalists who are trapped in their homes, towns, cities, and provinces, and are at risk for silencing and violence. We know how soon the right to expression can be taken away, and how it can be weaponized to violate fundamental rights. We are therefore deeply concerned for this population.
In solidarity with them, we call for the following:
- Western governments and neighboring nations—including Pakistan and India—step up and provide safe harbor to all Afghan refugees, grant express visas, and continue humanitarian aid for their long-term protection.
- Resettlement decisions not be shaped by xenophobia, Islamophobia, or patriarchy.
- Communities receiving refugees create a welcoming culture that fosters inclusion and integration and be supported to do so.
- International institutions listen to Afghan women leaders and foreground their voices. International media outlets elevate and amplify the lived experience of Afghans in-country and the voices of Afghans in the diaspora — with identity protection for each group — and privilege these over western commentators.
- Afghan storytellers, artists, and journalists be treated with special status, given the particular dangers they face. Governments, non-government organizations, politicians, social media influencers and each and every one of us raise our voices in defense of their free and fair expression.
- We all educate ourselves on the history of violence in this region in order to deter our governments from launching future imperialist wars that ravage countries and populations.
We recommend the following resource to learn more about how to support resettlement and humanitarian efforts: Resources to Help Afghan Refugees.
Farha Khatun, Lina Srivastava, Tula Goenka, Vaishali Sinha, Prerana Thakurdesai, Mridu Chandra, Anu Rana, Juhi Sharma, Debalina Majumder, Meenakshi Shedde, Shuchi Talati, Laj P. Waghray, Ambarien Alqadar, Priya Thuvassery, Maheen Mirza, Ghania Siddique, Miriam Chandy, Nishtha Jain, Anula Shetty, Meghna Damani, Shashwati Talukdar, Ruchika Muchchala, Ishita Srivastava, Raji Ram, Sneha Mundari, Sonali Gulati, Leena Jayaswal, Sriyanka Ray, Samina Mishra, Arundhati Ghosh.