Even while I was working for the Germans, I received death threats in the form of phone calls and letters. I reported eight such incidents to the Germans in Camp Marmal. This was always checked and after a few days they would say: request rejected, the level of danger is unclear. I wondered what evidence it would take to make the level of danger clear: would it take my dead body to prove that my life was in danger? In the end, I even lost my job because it was said that if you were in danger, then the troops were also at risk. If you were out with the soldiers because the insurgents were after you, that was a danger. I didn't understand that; the way the Germans acted confused me.
Interpreters, supporters, cultural advisors
I founded a group for interpreters and other workers who worked for the Germans. In recent years, we demonstrated regularly in front of Camp Marmal to draw attention to our plight. We wanted to show that we needed help from the Germans. The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated hugely, especially since 2014, when the international troops handed over responsibility to the Afghan troops.
We interpreters were supporters, helpers, cultural advisors – men like me worked with the NATO troops for almost ten years. During this time, I also experienced many critical situations. Once we got stuck crossing a river in Baghlan province because there was a problem with one of the Dingo vehicles. We had to hold out for two days – we were scared because the terrain had been mined by the insurgents. I was also involved in frontline foot patrols, where fear was our constant companion. I started on $450 a month, later my pay was increased to $950, which was a very good salary.
No one from the German side has contacted us. I learned from the media that the Germans recently changed the two-year rule, so interpreters like me, whose time working for the Germans was longer ago, would also be eligible for selection. But we are all absolutely in the dark: we don't know where to turn. Fleeing to Pakistan or Iran is not an option for me, nor do I want to pay traffickers money to bring me and my wife to Europe.
Things at the moment look very bleak. I am sad, hopeless and scared. I feel like the victim of a war that the Germans helped to wage in my country as well. The Germans like to emphasise that they come from a free and democratic country that respects human rights. My request to the Germans is to put human rights above bureaucracy in this case. Our lives are in danger: please make the decision to save us, while you still hear from us. We fought shoulder to shoulder. We were colleagues.
Ahmad Jawid Sultani
© Sueddeutsche Zeitung/Qantara.de 2021
Ahmad Jawid Sultani, a long-time interpreter for the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, is chairman of the German Local Employees Union in Mazar-i-Sharif.