Target: Amlesh Khan, Director-General of the Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan
Goal: Free the iconic “Afghan girl” made famous by National Geographic in 1985, who faces up to 14 years in prison and a minimum $3,000 fine for being in Pakistan with improper documentation, and request that other refugees in similar circumstance are also released.
The girl known to the world as simply the “Afghan girl,” Sharbat Gula, was arrested for being in the country with a fake ID. Millions of Afghans flooded Pakistan during the war with the Soviet Union. Approximately 2.5 million reside there now, and as many refugees can tell today, they have not always been welcome in their new country. In 2014, Pakistan announced plans to send many of those refugees away; this was the same year that Gula is accused of obtaining false identification.
Gula was made famous when Steve McCurry captured her image while she was staying in a refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984. She was only 12 years old at the time, but her picture became the face of the refugee crisis caused by the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; a crisis that was followed by more social and political unrest that affects the region today. Her current position highlights the long-term difficultly of legitimacy that refugees face even decades after the first upheaval that sends them fleeing their homes and lives for new ones.
The fame that her image caused did not make her life any easier. In fact, though the image remained alive in the public consciousness, the real orphaned girl was forgotten until 2002 when she was located so a more current image could be taken. Her life was one without order and safety. She became a child bride, she lost a daughter, and she says she has never felt safe; a story not so different from the millions of other unfortunate refugees in the country.
International attention has fallen on her case because of her notoriety, but the thousands of others facing the same charges are not so well known. Sign this petition to request that Pakistan drop the charges against these refugees and work to make them legitimate members of its society.
Dear Director-General Amlesh Khan,
Many refugees that fled to Pakistan have been unable to obtain legitimate documentation which causes them, out of desperation, to go through illegal channels to obtain identification. The government is punishing these desperate people for trying to rebuild lives after facing terrible circumstances.
Sharbat Gula is facing unfair fines and jail time for trying to survive and become a part of Pakistani society, and she is not alone in her fight. Please free all refugees accused of obtaining improper documentation and work to find a way for them to become legitimate and productive citizens of your country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Screenshot from a Youtube video by NewzstreetTV