Rahmanqul 1956 - 2007, Regional Director in Andkhoi
Since the beginning of our work in Andkhoi, Rahmanqul had been our most closest friend and most important employee. Rahmanqul was born 1956 and on 17 February 2007 in front of his house shot dead.
He used to live with his family in Arab Shah Payan, a village in the district of Khancharbagh, about 8 km northeast of Andkhoi in the province of Faryab in the north west of Afghanistan. He came from a very poor family of farmers. He was the first of 8 children (3 brothers and four sisters). 1961 he started school in the primary school in Khancharbagh (today Rahmanqul Shaheed Lycee). After finishing primary school he went to Abu Muslim High School in Andkhoi 8 km away from home. He did not have any money for a bicycle. His father had a donkey. Sometimes he could ride the donkey. In Winter he was always walking to school and home again every day. While he was still at school, he had to earn money to support his family. For example he bought eggs and chickens in the village and sold them at the bazar in Andkhoi. Together with friends he opened a shop and after school they were selling meat. In 1973 he finished school and went to Balkh University for his studies (biology and chemistry). After finishing university in 1976 he got married but already 15 days after the wedding he had to leave for Kabul to work as a soldier. He stayed in Kabul for two years and this was a very difficult time for him. He did not have much money and worried about feeding the family. His father was sick and he felt unsafe. The Mudjahedin were getting stronger and had started fighting the communist regime. At the end of 1978 he came home again and became a teacher at Khancharbagh Boys School. In addition to working as a teacher he was a farmer. He helped his father work the land. From his first salary he bought a bicycle.
The first three children were still small when Rahmanqul had to serve as soldier in Mazar-e-Sharif (from 1986 till 1987). After the death of his father, Rahmanqul took over the responsibility for the whole big family because he was the oldest of the 8 brothers and sisters.
He always worked hard and thought how to best serve his family, for example he was very interested in raising melons and other fruit and vegetables in his garden. He was also interested in reading.
1987 Rahmanqul became deputy principal of Yuldoz Lycee in Andkhoi; he taught physics in grades 11 and 12. During this time he met Ulla Nölle, the founder of VUSAF, and he started working for the committee. Furthermore, he worked at Save the Children as assistance in the microcredit program. 1992, 1994 and 2000 the younger daughters were born. Two children are not alive anymore (one boy and one girl). One child was kicked by a cow and another one died of a brain tumour or something similar. In Andkhoi the family was living in a rented house until their own house was completed in 2004.
Everything which the committee managed to do during the past years and everything you are reading on these pages, was only possible because Rahmanqul worked all the time in the best way possible. He had many friends and helpers, but it was him who showed the right way.
In March 2007 Marga Flader wrote:
With this letter, unfortunately, we have to tell you that our regional director Rahmanqul was shot dead on 17 February 2007 at the gate of his house in Andkhoi. Rahmanqul leaves a wife and six children. We are all devastated and very sad. Two men were arrested but it seems some other people are behind the murder and we do not know who. The investigations are still going on.
With Rahmanqul we have not only lost our most important and able employee, but also our best friend. Rahmanqul was a very special person who was able to realize his many brilliant ideas with the help of his many friends. Together we have built a wonderful network to bring education to thousands of children, young men and women. If there were problems in the state schools which we supported, the teachers did not go the board of education, but to Rahmanqul. When we visited the schools, he told the children to look after their school and its garden and to do what the teachers told them. When people had problems they could not solve themselves, they came to him and asked for help. He was a good friend to everyone – the children, their parents, the teachers, the workers at our constructions sites, our friends from other places in Afghanistan or from abroad who supported our work in Andkhoi, and above all he was our friend and we miss him badly. He was a good husband and father. His devastated daughter kept on crying, ‘I can’t live without my father’. It will be difficult for everyone to live without this wonderful man. We cannot understand who could have killed him. We can’t stop thinking about it, but cannot find an answer. More than a thousand men came to the funeral. Hundreds of men and women came every day to house of the family in Andkhoi, as did I. Unfortunately it took me almost a week to reach Andkhoi from Hamburg. The flight connections and the weather were bad. As we did not know who committed the murder, we were also afraid. However, our visit was really needed to support the family. They saw how their husband/father was killed, and fear for their own lives and they do not know what the future will bring. In Afghanistan there are no psychotherapists who help the family in cases like this. There is no pension or payment from the state or an insurance company. We want to – and for this we ask for your support – help Rahmanqul’s wife, his son and his five daughters. As they cannot live in Andkhoi anymore because they fear for their lives, we would like to help them start a new life in Kabul. The son could continue his studies in Kabul – it was Rahmanqul’s greatest wish that his children would go to university. The girls could finish school and later also get further education.
I met Rahmanqul’s friends in Andkhoi. All men cried. One day we just talked about the murder and how it could have happened because we could not imagine that he had any enemies; everyone loved him. However, despite the great pain everyone was suffering, it became clear to me that our work in Andkhoi should continue. Rahmanqul would have wanted it that way. I asked our most important employees and Rahmanqul’s friends for a second meeting and we talked about how we could continue our work in Andkhoi which is so very important for the region. Approximately 60 Persons are working directly for us and another 100 workers at our construction sites, i.e. 160 families or maybe 1500 people. The support which we are giving to the state schools with teaching material and teacher training is very important for a better quality of education.
While I was still in Afghanistan we found a group of people who are willing to form a Board of Andkhoi which is to run the committee’s work in this area. For the different sections we have established departments and listed the work which needs to be done. These ideas will be discussed in a meeting to set up this Board of Andkhoi. Our office in Kabul is, of course, in close touch with Andkhoi. In this way we will move towards to our aim to provide help for self-help and delegate responsibility to several persons who want to work for education in Andkhoi.
Important for our future work, however, is also that the murderer will be found so that our employees do not have to fear for their own lives. It is very hard to bear that one of our employees was killed doing his work for the committee and that he lost his life working for his life’s aim which was giving education to children.
Members of Afghanistan-Schulen and VUSAF (as we are known in Afghanistan) have the wish to continue our work despite the tragedy. We are sure that this is what Rahmanqul would want us to do. Of course, we can only continue if you continue trusting us. “Now more than ever”, some of you might say, or “It is does not look good for Afghanistan, now in the north, too”. However, if we give up now, then the “dark ages” would start again, those people who want Afghanistan go back to the bad past and the killers would have won and the people who have shown us over many years that they wish to have a different Afghanistan would suffer again. Intelligent young men and women are living in Andkhoi who want education and who want to work for their country. India has granted some scholarships for universities there. Six places for each province. Five young men and one young woman from the province of Faryab have the chance to go India to study. All are from Andkhoi and were students of our education center. We have been good and we do not want to have our good work destroyed. Will you help us in the future?
Those of you who would like to support Rahmanqul children Samia, Mardanqul, Fawzia, Farsana, Negina and Anisa, we would like you to mention the words “Rahmanqul Shaheed” on your transfer notice. We will ensure that this money will be used for the education of Rahmanqul’s children only.
In the hope that you will trust us and support us in the future, I remain
Mardanqul, Rahmanqul's son, remembers:
We had asked Mardan to write about his memories of the life in the village; he wrote this before the death of his father:
I remember that we met for the first time in Khancharbagh high school when I was in seventh grade, if you remember, you came to the class with Ulla Nölle and my dear father and there were some other teachers and principal of the school with you. You were so happy, but I think you weren’t aware that Rahman Qul had a son who was in this class. Alif Qalich khan, the principal of the school, introduced me to you, on that time I wasn’t able to say even “thank you or good bye” and than you shook hands with me and took my pictures.
We were the first students who registered our names to come to school after Mujahedden left the district. I studied my first grade in Yulduz high school because for two years we lived in Andkhoi city in Dustom and mujahedden’s war and than moved to the village after the war stopped in 1990.
The school opened just for boys in Arabsha Madrassa building. We were in that old building for five years. We didn’t have enough chairs and tables and also the school didn’t have one book to teach students. My father brought some books from Yulduz Lycee to our school. Each class had one book from each subject and the teachers were quite happy and they were teaching. When we became six grades, we moved to the new building of Khancharbagh Lycee. My favorite subject was Dari at that time because we had a wonderful teacher for Dari. We were memorizing all poems of the book and from other books too because twice a week we had poem competition with other classes and between our class. Sometimes the head master was collecting all the students and teachers to the yard of the school and we were divided for two groups and it was a big poem match and some time it was continuing for more than one hour.
I didn’t have bicycle, I was walking to school because we didn’t have money to buy a bicycle. My father had a bicycle. He went to Andkhoi by bicycle because he was an assistant teacher in Yulduz high school. After some time my father bought a motor bike and gave his bicycle to my uncle. When Khancharbagh Lycee’s reconstruction was started by VUSAF, I worked there as a labourer in my holidays and saved some money and my father bought a bicycle for me from that money.
Then I moved to Abu Muslim high school and went by bicycle to that school after nine years of studying, It was also hard for me because I lost my old classmates and nice teachers and also was a big change for me, going to English course and math course etc.. The Headmaster of Khancharbagh Lycee didn’t want me to go to Andkhoi School but I did it. After that he didn’t talk with me for at least three years because I had changed the school. There were good teachers in Abu Muslim high school. But if the student was absent or not paying attention to the lesson they were hit by stick.
One thing made me angry when I was in eleventh grade one of the days in a chemistry lesson: During the lesson one of my class mate told me to say something naughty and than teacher got angry with him and brought three pieces of sticks and hit him in the class and sent him to office. The principal of the school called all the students at the end of their lessons and talked about this boy and told him that he was not allowed to come to school for a week. I thought with myself, why did the boy tell me this word, what was the reason for it? But I did not know about it. After one week he came back to school and came next tome and said to me “Please forgive me about my mistake, I am so sorry about” and than became my friend.
Yes, last year the flood destroyed the boundary wall of the school and damaged the building also, the garden did not suffer. The plants are growing and there are more than 200 every kind of plants. And also they have planted flowers this year too. There are about 1000 male students in Khancharbagh high school and 36 personal (teacher, headmaster, Clark and Guard). The small building completely destroyed and cannot be repaired. The students are taught in two shifts.
The weather in Ankdhoi is very good this year because it rained a lot and the river is still full of water and in the desert you can see lots of flowers. It is completely different than last year. Plants and grasses are growing and people are happy and have lots of work this year in out side on their fields.
10 years on, Mardanqul Rahmani remembers the tragic day:
That day, I came home at 05:30 PM and my father was discussing some projects with Eng. Yar Mohammad and the discussion was full of joy and smiles. It was about sunset that Eng. Yar Mohammad left to his home and then, my father also went out of his home. He told me that he was going to Education Center in order to tell the Education Center guards to clean the streams for the water that was supposedly to pour to the pool of the Education Center that night. My six years old sister and 7 years old cousin were accompanying him. They returned back after 40 minutes on 06:10 PM.
My other sister was waiting in the house yard to open the door for her father at his return. I and my uncle Noor Muhammad was listening to the news in TV. The voice of the car which was approaching to our home was heard and my sister opened the door for my father to come in. A man on motorcycle who was following the car stopped by our house and told my sister that he wanted to meet my father. My sister asked his name and his purpose of coming. The man insisted that he wants to meet my father. Hearing the voice of the man, my father came out with my cousin while my sister was staring at them from further distance next to the main gate. My father asked that guy if everything is okay. He stretched his left hand to greet with my father while keeping the loaded gun behind himself by his right hand and suddenly puts the gun to the face/mouth of my father and pulls the trigger. The bullet blew to my father’s mouth and goes to head. I and the family were shocked by hearing the gun shot of that evening and still we feel the psychological effects of that incident. After hearing the gun shot I run to the door. The man had 20 meters distance from us escaping with his abettor who had hidden himself in the stream to help in case the plan went wrong. I held my father in the yard. He was starring and looking to us and tried to tell something but he was not able to, the tears was coming from his beautiful eyes and the blood from his mouth and his lips and hands were shaking a lot. He tried to say something but couldn’t, maybe he wanted to say goodbye to his beloved family or wanted to ask us to continue on his way or wanted to say something else but it was not possible to hear the last word from him. Soon, he became unconscious and we tried to reach to hospital as soon as possible. Mr. Ghafor Khan, our neighbor and friend of my father, and Noor Mohammad, my uncle, took my father to the car checking his heartbeats while I was driving to the hospital. My father died in Andkhoi square while I wasn’t aware and struggling to reach to the hospital.
They took my father to the emergency room and the doctor wrote a prescription and gave it to me to bring the medicine from the drugstore nearby. I run towards the drugstore but it was closed when reached there. I run to the house of the drugstore owner and knocked the door very hard that injured my hands which I only noticed later on. He came out and both of us were extremely worried while he was trying to unlock the drugstore. I came back to the hospital with the medicine and directly entered to the emergency room. I saw that white clothing was laid on my father, I could only see his feet. I asked them if my father’s recovering. Is he? Is he? But it was hope against hope and I knew that my father had died! I thought that it’s only a nightmare and I will wake up soon but I could never wake up, it was reality in front of my eyes!
Many friends reached to the hospital after hearing the incident. Everyone was extending condolences to me adding that my father is under operation and he will recover soon; trying to stop me crying! I was already aware of the fact that my father is dead. And, the world looked too black for me and there was no way out and no hope for me in this world anymore. It was the moment that my dear father’s advice and his good words came to me: Two days earlier my father had told me to take care of the family business onwards. Although he was working days and nights but during the last weeks/days of his life, he was working till late nights, even not sleeping the whole night. He was so in love of his job.
Maybe he was aware of what was coming (supernatural assumption). We took photos with family members one night before the incident and he was smiling in every photo. He asked my mother to serve the dinner in our guest house which was not usual in our home in the past. So, everything was just going in the perfect way and we all were so happy and thankful to God for everything but never knew that such a tragic incident would happen to us.
I thought that as the only responsible man of the family I had to be brave now and had to go to home and be with the family. Then I came with some friends and relatives to home from the hospital at around 9:30pm. The neighbors gathered in our house and everyone was crying but waiting to hear good news from us. When I came to our house my mother and sisters ran to me and asked about the situation. I had to lie them, I told my mother, the family members and neighbors that my father is alive and in better condition now therefore I came to home and hopefully we would bring him to home by the next morning. I was afraid that if I told the truth, things would be so bad to my mother and sisters. I told this to my mother with a smile so that she believed me and she really believed and everyone was happy and thankful to God that their beloved Rahmanqul was alive. I had to keep this secrete till morning and it was very difficult for me.
I and some friends/relatives were in the guestroom and they were talking about the burial ceremony and I was thinking and thinking and don’t know how I passed that night. That night, I noticed that one minute was longer than hours and hours. At the same time, officials from the security and police departments were also coming to our house and there were armed policemen surroundering our house for security reasons. And, I will briefly explain later on what the local government and police department of Andkhoi did to arrest the murderer and those who were behind this assassination.
In the early morning, I couldn’t keep silence anymore, I was mourning loud and that was the time when my family members knew about the father’s death. Everyone started crying and crying and the neighbors started gathering in our house. After some hours, I heard that an ambulance was approaching and it stopped next to our door. It was bringing my father. He came to his house for the last time to say goodbye to his beloved wife and children, relatives and friends and to his house which he had built after so many years of hard working and he was so happy to have his own house, now it was the time to say goodbye for everyone and everything. And we, the family members and friends had to accept this injustice of the time.
It was about 1:30pm and a rainy day when the burial ceremony started. Hundreds of people of the city and from other places had gathered in our house. First my father was carried to the public mosque and after performing prayers at the graveside laid to rest in peace. In the mosque before performing the prayer and burial ceremony, some people talked about Rahmanqul’s personality and the great work he had done for his people/country. And the relatives and friends asked the government to prosecute the murderer of Rahmanqul and those who were behind this tragic incident. The police chief promised the citizens to capture the murderer and prosecute him. At that time I believed that the government will capture and execute him/them and it was also the request of the people of the area but the situation was opposite of what I was expecting.
Here, I want to shed light on the prosecution process of my father’s murderers:
Arresting suspects was started by the police department shortly after the incident. Some people were arrested and police took my sister to the police department who was with my father at the time of the incident to help them in recognizing the murder. She says that one of the captured was alike to the man who had come in front of our house and martyred my father. It was not possible to recognize the murderer hundred percent because he had masked his face while committing the crime. But, that guy has been released from the detention center before morning but some others were arrested instead. We insisted the local government to prosecute and capture the murderers of martyred Rahmanqul. This caused the capture of my father’s friends and it made the case/situation so complicated for us. We could not do anything but leave the murderer to be punished by God. We had to find another way to save the lives of the rest of the family.