Countrywide gatherings were held on Wednesday to mark the start of Martyrs Week and the 14th Anniversary of Ahmad Shah Massoud’s assassination and tributes were paid to thousands of unsung heroes who lost their lives in Afghanistan’s ongoing war.
In a video link to guests attending the official ceremony in Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani saluted all those who have lost their lives over the years and said the word Shaheed (martyr) was a sacred one to the people of Afghanistan. He also said the people of the country and government must not forget the families of the martyrs.
Those families number in the thousands and many of them today live in dire conditions.
One such family is that of Yusuf – who was killed in the line of duty in Helmand recently.
Today, without his help, Yusuf’s family lives in virtual poverty in a small room in the capital Kabul.
“It was Ramadan month that my son called me and said he will send money within a few days. But after a few days I received a call. I was told my son has been wounded but instead he was martyred,” said Yusuf’s mother, who is a cleaner at a school in Kabul.
The death of Yusuf was the second such tragedy she has had to deal with, she said adding that 13 years ago her eldest son disappeared. After this all her dreams and hopes had been pinned on Yusuf.
Yusuf’s father said: “My son was martyred in Helmand. I am disabled, and he was our bread winner.”
Abdul Ghias is another victim of the war. He lost his sight 12 years ago after being wounded in an attack in Kabul.
Eight years ago he opened a book store in Kabul.
“At first my son helped in the shop but then my daughters helped me in this regard. My three daughters are now going to university and my two younger daughters are school students,” he told TOLOnews.
It is estimated that at least three million people have been killed and wounded while five million Afghans have fled the country in the past 40 years – all due to war.