A piece written for The Commune by members of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan
Recently the media has widely reported the deaths of British troops in Afghanistan with the escalation of violence. Additionally, there is much debate of British policies in Afghanistan. What the people of Britain miss here is the suffering of the Afghan people. Foreign troops have not even killed half as many Taliban as innocent civilians. Blind bombings have killed more than 8000 people, a figure which is bound to increase. Even wedding parties have been targeted several times, killing many women and children.
The so-called ‘new’ strategy of Obama’s administration and the influx of troops to Afghanistan has dragged our people further into the bloody war, and this government has proved itself much more war-mongering than Bush with his killings and ever horrifying oppression. Some people prefer the Taliban over the foreign troops, as they provide better security and safety from attacks of foreign troops, while others simply join to take revenge for the death of their loved ones killed in air raids or other attacks.
Fine slogans, bloody hands
If we glance back at history, US governments have never brought “peace” and “democracy” in any country. It has only forced war on countless countries, causing destruction, killing and disasters. Afghanistan is no exception. Everyone knows that the so-called “war on terror” of the US and allies is just a fake. It is an open secret today that all of the terrorist bands in Afghanistan and region, from Osama to Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Mujahideen warlords are products of the Cold War-era White House. The US poured billions of dollars into the pockets of Islamic fundamentalists who not only turned Afghanistan to ashes and hell for its people, but also posed a threat to the people around the world. And this dirty game is still going on. The US and allies invaded our country under fine slogans of “democracy”, “women’s rights”, “liberation” and so on, but today they are supporting and helping the dirtiest enemies of such values in Afghanistan. They talk about democracy, but shake bloody hands of fundamentalist elements such as Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Burhanuddin Rabbani, Qasim Fahim, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Yousif Qanoni, Ismail Khan, Din Mohammad, Haji Almas, Atta Mohammad, Rashid Dostum, Mirwis Yasini (all of them part of the current puppet regime) and many other such warlords who for decades have waged war against democratic values in Afghanistan and have committed untold crimes and brutalities against Afghan people. It is to throw dirt on values like “democracy” and “human rights” to impose the above-mentioned criminals and their like as policy makers in Afghanistan. But this is what the US and its allies have done to our poor people in the past eight years.
The US and its allies are in Afghanistan only for their own regional, strategic and economical interests. Having its military bases in Afghanistan, the US can tighten its grip in Asia and compete with its rivals: China, Russia and Iran. In addition, it has opened its new Guantanamo in Kabul, the Bagram Airbase. This prison houses more than 600 inmates who have no right “to challenge their detention”. There have been many reports of abuse in the prison and many prisoners are said to be innocent.
In the grip of the drug mafia
The world has been deceived to believe that the US brought “democracy” to Afghanistan but everyone should know that they have turned Afghanistan into the opium capital of the world, controlled by a drugmafia. Nourishing democracy in such a situation is a fantasy! While they talk about a “counter-narcotics drive”, in fact hidden efforts were made to increase the production of opium over 4,500% since 2001, and now Afghanistan produces over 92% of the world‘s opium. The whole country is in the grip of a drug-mafia and its consequences are alarming not only for Afghans but for the people of the world, as the drugs of Afghanistan mostly finds their way to the streets of London, New York and other Western cities. But the US, Britain and some other Western countries gain hundreds of billions of dollars from this dirty business. The biggest drug-traffickers of Afghanistan are all friends of the US and high-ranking officials of its puppet regime. For instance Wali Karzai, brother of Hamid Karzai, controls the largest drug network in Kandahar province.
Elections are one of the most important principles of democracy and a lot of hue and cry was raised to show the world this ‘democracy’. But the election in Afghanistan is just a dirty show to legitimise the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai for another term. Even children in Afghanistan know that the next president has already been chosen by Washington and not the people’s vote. Our people knew this therefore they had no interest in taking part in the election. Even international observers and many media reports confirm the low standard of voting processes and the large-scale fraud in the election, and a low turnout of voters.
Freedom of speech is another key pillar of democracy harshly crushed in Afghanistan. 23-year old Pervaiz Kambakhsh printed some articles from the Internet about women and Islam and distributed it among his friends. Initially accused of blasphemy, he was sentenced to death but after a lot of pressure from around the world his sentence was reduced to 20 years in prison. Malalai Joya, the brave young MP who unmasked the warlords of the Parliament and their Western masters, was suspended because these criminals, who only talk in the language of guns, couldn’t tolerate her. Today no democracy-minded, serious anti-fundamentalist group can operate openly in Afghanistan. RAWA still runs its programs and activities semi-underground and our members are facing daily threats and risks both from the warlords and the intelligence agency of the puppet regime. Even the book shops that sell our publications have been threatened.
Western-supported warlords still control much of the country and impose their law-of-the-jungle on our suffering people. They are killing, looting and oppressing our people, but according to US terminology, they are not regarded as terrorists, since they work according to the directions of the Pentagon and White House. Prominent warlords such as Abdul Rashid Dostum, Atta Mohammad, Pirum Qul, Alum Siah, and many others have their own independent “governments” in different regions of Afghanistan. They have their own local bands, belonging to certain commanders backed by much more powerful warlords, who are involved in looting people, the abduction and raping of girls, drug smuggling, bribery and many other crimes. The local police and judiciary are composed of people appointed by these warlords. Therefore there is obviously no implementation of law, justice and security in such places; and our people have no door to knock on for help.
Dirty, bloody enemies of our people
Despite great claims of a “war on terror”, today the Taliban and other terrorist groups have become stronger than ever and dominate large swathes of Afghanistan. They have also been able to carry out suicide and road bombings, killing scores of innocent people. We believe the US is not serious and honest in its war, since annihilating such a band of illiterate men would be a piece of cake for a superpower. These Taliban provide a perfect justification for the US to extend its occupation in Afghanistan because if the Taliban are defeated and “terrorism” is uprooted then the US would have to leave Afghanistan. In fact there are reports on how the US is extending a friendly hand towards the terrorist Gulbuddinis and Taliban – the dirty, bloody enemies of our people – and holding secret negotiations and talks with such brutal groups. Other foreign countries, like Iran and Pakistan, have a hand in supporting these Taliban bands.
Security is one of the vital needs of our people but it is currently in the most disastrous state, as we have described. Piled on top of this, poverty, unemployment, corruption and the lack of access to all kinds of amenities, makes life hell for our people. 20 million out of an estimated 33.6 million population are today under the poverty line. The rate of unemployment has never been this high, forcing people to join the ranks of the Taliban, turn to armed robbery or flee the country.
The US puppet regime of Hamid Karzai is the most corrupt in our history. Afghanistan was ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2008. Bribery and the embezzlement of money is a norm in government institutions. There is no sight of reconstruction despite the jaw-dropping 32 billion dollars of aid. An international aid expert recently discovered that 80 cents of every dollar somehow goes back to the donor countries, and the rest of it is grabbed by national and international NGOs, while only a few cents reach the people.
The Western media created a lot of hype about the so-called “liberation of Afghan women”. But in fact, shamefully, the situation of women has got worse in the past eight years. Our women still endure catastrophic conditions. Girls have been abducted, raped and shot dead on their way to school by warlords. Both the warlords and Taliban still oppress our women. The famous case of acid being thrown on the faces of schoolgirls shook the world, but what is heart-wrenching is that this is just the tip of the iceberg and such horrible crimes against women are increasing. Many schools have been burned down, or been threatened and consequently shut down. Due to this insecurity the number of girls in education has dropped dramatically in the recent years. Laura Bush proudly calls the 6 million female students an achievement, but still today the literacy rate for women is 5%.
Many women working in television or radio stations have been threatened, assaulted and even murdered. Shaima Rezai, Zakia Zaki, Saange Amaj and Nadia Anjuman were killed. Nilofar Habibi, a girl working in a local television station in Herat, was stabbed by men who had warned her not to appear on television again.
Today, our women are suffering from two sides: at the hands of the misogynists in power, and domestic violence. 70% of Afghanistan is lawless, that is, in the hands of the Taliban or warlords. The appalling anti-women laws of the Taliban are well-known to the world, but the regions which warlords and other local commanders control are far worse than under the Taliban. Women are vulnerable and silent victims of rape, abduction, murder and other crimes. There are limitless cases of rape, from 3-year old children to 73-year old women.
Domestic violence is another pain our women suffer. Women have gone through unimaginable tortures at the hands of husbands and family members. Nafisa’s husband scalded her with hot water and cut her nose and ears with a knife. 16-year old Nazia’s inhumane 40-year old husband cut both her ears and nose, shaved her head, broke her teeth and drove her mentally unstable. These women see no support from the courts. The criminals are not punished and this is why many women see suicide as the only way out in such situations. The rates of self-immolation among women have risen very high in the recent years, with hundreds of cases officially acknowledged. In all the cases of the sufferings of women we should remember that this is a very small fraction of the actual number of cases, as many families hide such incidents due to the backward traditions of our society.
The Afghan government, which is comprised of misogynists, not only provides no support to suffering women, but further still it passes anti-women laws which push women to despair. Recently Karzai made a secret deal with fundamentalists to gain their support for his re-election by signing a law which permits Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, and has many more such shocking articles against women. Brad Adams, of Human Rights Watch said,
The rights of Afghan women are being ripped up by powerful men who are using women as pawns in manoeuvres to gain power. These kinds of barbaric laws were supposed to have been relegated to the past with the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, yet Karzai has revived them and given them his official stamp of approval.
Faced with three enemies
From the above, we can see that today our people are faced with a total of three enemies: the Jihadi fundamentalists in the government, the Taliban and the foreign troops. There is a war raging in our country and the situation for the people can’t get any worse. If the troops withdraw from Afghanistan it will lessen the problems of the country.
The Western governments not only betray Afghans but also their own people. They are putting their soldiers’ lives in danger for a war which only adds to the pain of the Afghan people. Afghans are day by day rising against the occupation and now demand the complete withdrawal of troops. We do not want the occupation, and know that no nation can liberate another nation. It is duty of the democratic minded forces and individuals of Afghanistan to fight for liberation, democracy and justice in the country. The troops have only complicated the Afghanistan situation. With the withdrawal of troops one of the problems of Afghanistan is solved, then it will be up to our people to struggle against the fundamentalists. If Western powers stop their support and sending weapons to such groups, then they may not have any chance of standing up to our people’s resistance.