Angelina Jolie joins Instagram to respond to ‘sickening’ crisis in Afghanistan
Angelina Jolie, a star previously averse to social media, has joined Instagram to comment on this week’s chaotic takeover of Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. pullout and to share a letter from a teenage girl worried about her human rights being rolled back by militant Taliban rule.
“Right now, the people of Afghanistan are losing their ability to communicate on social media and to express themselves freely,” Jolie wrote Friday upon joining the social media platform, where she had already amassed more than 2.2 million followers by midday. “So I’ve come on Instagram to share their stories and the voices of those across the globe who are fighting for their basic human rights.”
The Oscar-winning actor and director, who is a refugee advocate and special envoy for the United Nations, noted that 20 years ago she was on the border of Afghanistan — two weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — where she met with refugees who had fled the Taliban.
“It is sickening to watch Afghans being displaced yet again out of the fear and uncertainty that has gripped their country,” she wrote. “To spend so much time and money, to have blood shed and lives lost only to come to this, is a failure almost impossible to understand.”
TV news covers foreign affairs most closely when the U.S. invades a country or retreats from it. The message is clear: Spectacle beats substance.
The war in Afghanistan, fought by a U.S.-led coalition, stretched over two decades and four U.S. presidencies. It cost more than $2 trillion and tens of thousands of lives, including more than 2,400 American troops and more than 3,800 U.S. contractors.
In April, President Biden announced that the U.S. would finally withdraw troops from the war-torn nation. In July, he said a quick Taliban takeover of Kabul was not inevitable. But the Taliban — the extremist group in power when President George W. Bush invaded the country in response to Sept. 11— swiftly swept through the country and its capital in just days, meeting little resistance en route.
Facing the first foreign policy crisis of his presidency (not counting the situation at the southern U.S. border), Biden this week doubled down on his decision to order all American troops out of Afghanistan. . But the president has faced intense political backlash as Kabul fell and over the messy continuing evacuation of thousands of Americans, many of whom remain inside the country. Harrowing images of people crowding the airport trying to escape the Taliban’s takeover also acutely magnified the humanitarian crisis.
Jolie, a number of late-night hosts and this news outlet have called on Biden to extend his pledge of refuge: not just for Afghan nationals who assisted Americans but also to anyone who wants out after the U.S.'s failed nation-building effort.
The U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan was America’s longest war, lasting nearly 20 years and costing tens of thousands of lives.
“Watching for decades how Afghan refugees — some of the most capable people in the world — are treated like a burden is also sickening,” Jolie wrote on Instagram. “Knowing that if they had the tools and respect, how much they would do for themselves. And meeting so many women and girls who not only wanted an education, but fought for it.”
She concluded: “Like others who are committed, I will not turn away. I will continue to look for ways to help. And I hope you’ll join me.”
Jolie’s Instagram profile has a link to the United Nations Refugee Agency’s website, which said that support for the humanitarian response inside Afghanistan is “urgently needed” to deliver assistance to the Afghan people, including some half a million displaced this year alone.
The handwritten letter Jolie received from a teenage girl spoke of concerns over the Taliban’s regressive rules about women and girls and the teen’s fears over returning to school, studying and work.
Taliban fighters rough up two journalists, then seek to make amends by offering water and a sports drink.
“We all had rights, we was [sic] able to defend our rights freely, but when they come, we are all afraid of them, and we think all our dreams are gone. We think our rights have been violated we can not get out,” the letter said.
A purported source close to the “Eternals” star told People that Jolie felt compelled to join Instagram to help young people in Afghanistan to speak freely.
“From her point of view, if she’s able to be a part of the effort to amplify their voices, then she felt it was reason enough to join and use her platform,” the source said.
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