Arash A.

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Arash A.

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Much of his family was forced to flee Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion and the setting up of a puppet, communist government.

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Arash A.

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Arash *
As the second World War ended, the world was a changed place in many ways and there
was hardly anybody in the world that would not be affected by what would come in the decades
after. The dust had barely settled from the years of destruction and deaths as a new kind of
conflict had already started. The democratic West would be in a diplomatic and military fight
with the Communist East for more than the coming next 50 years.
American military involvement was summoned as soon as 1950, when a coalition of
Western countries deployed to defend the Korean peninsula from an invasion in the North,
backed by the mighty Soviet Union. More and more, both America and the Soviet Union would
attempt to battle one another, whether covertly or by proxy. There were many close calls between
the two sides, most famously during the Cuban Missile Crisis. About two decades into the Cold
War, there was considerable involvement from one or both sides in conflicts ranging from
Indonesia to Angola.
A key turning point however came in 1979 in Afghanistan. At this time, my parents had
not yet met. but all my family members on both sides were directly impacted by the events for
the rest of their lives. What happened that year is the reason I came to this country. The Soviet
Union had tried to influence Afghan politics but failed to do so and decided to escalate by
invading Afghanistan with a massive army. My father at this time was a young radio news
broadcaster. I asked him what happened and he spoke to me in his native Dari, with myself
providing the translation. “I was at home with a small pistol. I was the oldest, and my father was
too old to protect us so it was up to me. I remember a knock on the door, and they were Soviet
soldiers accompanied by some Afghans that sided with the Russians. They asked me, 'why the
hell didn't you come to work this morning?'” My father describes getting in the car and leaving

his worried family at home, which included his parents and 5 younger siblings. Back at the radio
station, he was made to read a statement. “It made me sound like I was on the Russians' side,”
my father continued. “It made me sound bad. For years after, people would ask me why I read
that statement. It told people that [the Soviets] were there to save Afghanistan and that they
should not worry. People hated me for it. They didn't know that I read that with a kalashnikov
pointed at my head. I had never had a gun pointed at me like that before.”
My mother (now separated from my father) lived right across from the Soviet embassy in
Kabul. She fled in 1982 on a bus to the border with Pakistan. Her comments were also in her
native Dari, translated to English by myself. “We paid the guards at the border. They let us cross.
People were making money of refugees cross the border, obviously.” My mother's side of the
family stayed in Pakistan for 2.5 years before leaving for France and the Netherlands as political
refugees.
My father was lucky enough to be able to leave Afghanistan before major fighting broke
out. “The airport was locked down but the soldiers knew me and did me a favor. On the plane to
Amsterdam, there were mostly Westerners and reporters from the BBC. They were drinking and
taking shots because they were so happy to leave unharmed.” His parents stayed in Kabul until
1992, when a major civil war broke out between fighting factions. “I became the first political
refugee in the Netherlands."
My parents settled in a town outside of The Hague in the Netherlands. I was born there
myself in 1987, two years before the Soviet withdrawal of Afghanistan. Due to the continuous
civil strife during the 90s and insecurity in the past decade, I have been unable to travel to my
motherland. All my family has left Afghanistan and has been able to live relatively successful
middle class lifestyles all over the world. What happened in 1979 ensured that my family would

scatter all across the globe. I have immediate family members in Toronto, Canada and Sydney,
Australia. I have dozens of family members in France, Germany and The Netherlands. My father
continued his career in journalism as he left Kabul. He is now managing editor of the Voice of
America's Afghan service, which broadcasts live television to Afghanistan on a daily basis.

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Arash A., “Arash A.,” Historical Memory:, accessed June 16, 2021, https://memory.ctevans.net/items/show/4.

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