Memorial event for Humanitarian Aid Workers, 18 August 2022
Westminster Abbey, London
A story of 11 young men from Afghanistan who lived like heroes and died as heroes
Dear friends and colleagues,
I am here with you to celebrate the lives of 11 Afghan deminers who lived like heroes and died as heroes. I represent the HALO Trust, with 34 years of history of work in Afghanistan.
Over one year ago on 8 June 2021 at around 10:00 pm, eleven members of HALO Afghanistan humanitarian deminers were brutally shot and killed in cool blood in their demining camp in Baghlan Province.
Over 15 other HALO deminers were seriously injured some of them with life-changing injuries. Around 123 men, from local communities in northern Afghanistan, were in the camp had finished their work on nearby minefields. Members of a terrorist group fought their way in. They were looking for members of an ethnic minority group in Afghanistan. When their colleagues refused to give them up, they opened fire indiscriminately.
My colleagues lived and died as heroes with honour. Behind each man who sacrificed his own life to save others, there are many untold and heroic stories to tell. I would like to read their names and invite you to pay respect to these fallen HALO staff:
Abdul Satar, Abdul Manan, Sher Mohammed, Sayed Ahmad, Noor Agha, Ghulam Mohammed, Mohammed Yousuf, Abdal Satar, Mohiburahman, Abdul Razeq, Rahmatullah.
The story of these 11 young Afghan men who lost their lives and 15 other young men who have been injured is one of the sad examples of hundreds of humanitarian aid workers who lose their lives every year in the line of performing their duties to save other lives and to assist the people in need. This tragic event is also a sad reminder that criminals and terrorists are attacking humanitarian workers because they are fearful of a developed and civilized society where the forces of evil will have no control over people’s lives and livelihoods. But we know, the light fades away darkness and they will never succeed.
I met most of the family members and the loved ones of the HALO martyred staff. I want to share with you the heartfelt story of Abdul Satar who is one of the martyrs. Soon after the gunmen entered the camp and indiscriminately opened fire, he resisted one of the gunmen and tried to stop him from killing his fellow deminers in their shared room. He was shot dead by the attacker. I know Abdul Satar personally, he joined HALO in May 2007 as a deminer, because he has been a hard-working and talented deminer, he was promoted to the team leader position. In addition, he was a driver of his team. An honest, family-loving deminer of Baghlan Province. He left five children behind, 3 lovely daughters and two young sons, his wife, three brothers, and his mother.
His youngest son was only one year old when he was martyred. His supervisor told me that Abdul Satar was very famous among his colleagues for keeping his vehicle always clean. He would have washed his vehicle every day after returning to the camp and would have recycled used tires to make flowerpots for use in demining camps for planting flowers. He was always helping other deminers to wear their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before the start of a demining day.
Recently we have celebrated the lives and achievements of these heroes in their hometown of Puli-Khumri Northeast Afghanistan. Although their families were extremely sad about the loss of the lives of their loved ones, most of them told me that they are happy that their sons, brothers, fathers, or husbands sacrificed their lives in the line of protection and saving the lives and livelihoods of thousands of their Afghan brothers and sisters over many years.
Programme Manager, HALO Afghanistan