This video, put on YouTube by Afghan women’s organization RAWA, says about itself:
Officials in Western Afghanistan say over 147 innocent civilians, many of them women and children, were killed when US war planes bombed villages of Gerani and Gangabad in Bala Baluk district of Farah Province on May 5, 2009.
This is one out of many war crime cases committed by the US troops in Afghanistan over the past few years. The number of innocent civilians killed since Obama took office in Jan.21, reaches to 300 and his so-called new strategy for Afghanistan and surge in number of troops has result in more such terrible tragedies.
Statement by illegally expelled Afghan member of parliament, Ms Malalai Joya:
MP for Farah Province condemns NATO bombings:
’This massacre offers the world a glimpse at horrors faced by our people’
As an elected representative for Farah, Afghanistan, I add my voice to those condemning the NATO bombing that claimed over 150 civilian lives in my province earlier this month. This latest massacre offers the world a glimpse of the horrors faced by our people.
However, as I explained at a May 11 press conference in Kabul, the U.S. military authorities do not want you to see this reality. As usual, they have tried to downplay the number of civilian casualties, but I have information that as many as 164 civilians were killed in the bombings. One grief stricken man from the village of Geranai explained at the press conference that he had lost 20 members of his family in the massacre.
The Afghan government commission, furthermore, appears to have failed to list infants under the age of three who were killed. The government commission that went to the village after three days — when all the victims had been buried in mass graves by the villagers — is not willing to make their list public. How can the precious lives of Afghans be treated with such disrespect?
The news last week is that the U.S. has replaced their top military commander in Afghanistan, but I think this is just a trick to deceive our people and put off responsibility for their disastrous overall strategy in Afghanistan on the shoulders of one person.
The Afghan ambassador in the U.S. said in an interview with Al Jazeera that if a ‘proper apology’ is made, then ‘people will understand’ the civilian deaths. But the Afghan people do not just want to hear ‘sorry.’ We ask for an end to the occupation of Afghanistan and a stop to such tragic war crimes.
The demonstrations by students and others against these latest air strikes, like last month’s protest by hundreds of Afghan women in Kabul, show the world the way forward for real democracy in Afghanistan. In the face of harassment and threats, women took to the streets to demand the scrapping of the law that would legalize rape within marriage and codify the oppression of our country’s Shia women. Just as the U.S. air strikes have not brought security to Afghans, nor has the occupation brought security to Afghan women. The reality is quite the opposite.
This now infamous law is but the tip of the iceberg of the women’s rights catastrophe in our occupied country. The whole system, and especially the judiciary, is infected with the virus of fundamentalism and so, in Afghanistan, men who commit crimes against women do so with impunity. Rates of abduction, gang rape, and domestic violence are as high as ever, and so is the number of women’s self-immolations and other forms of suicide. Tragically, women would rather set themselves on fire than endure the hell of life in our ‘liberated’ country.
The Afghan Constitution does include provisions for women’s rights – I was one of many female delegates to the 2003 Loya Jirga who pushed hard to include them. But this founding document of the ‘new Afghanistan’ was also scarred by the heavy influence of fundamentalists and warlords, with whom Karzai and the West have been compromising from the beginning.
In fact, I was not really surprised by this latest law against women. When the U.S. and its allies replaced the Taliban with the old notorious warlords and fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance, I could see that the only change we would see was from the frying pan to the fire.
There have been a whole series of outrageous laws and court decisions in recent years. For instance, there was the disgusting law passed on the pretext of ‘national reconciliation’ that provided immunity from prosecution to warlords and notorious war criminals, many of whom sit in the Afghan Parliament. At that time, the world media and governments turned a blind eye to it.
My opposition to this law was one of the reasons that I, as an elected MP from Farah Province, was expelled from Parliament in May 2007. More recently, there was the outrageous 20-year sentence handed down against Parvez Kambakhsh, a young man whose only crime was to allegedly distribute a dissenting article at his university.
We are told that additional U.S. and NATO troops are coming to Afghanistan to help secure the upcoming presidential election. But frankly the Afghan people have no hope in this election – we know that there can be no true democracy under the guns of warlords, the drug trafficking mafia and occupation.
With the exception of Ramazan Bashardost, most of the other candidates are the known, discredited faces that have been part and parcel of the mafia-like, failed government of Hamid Karzai. We know that one puppet can be replaced by another puppet, and that the winner of this election will most certainly be selected behind closed doors in the White House and the Pentagon. I must conclude that this presidential election is merely a drama to legitimize the future U.S. puppet.
Just like in Iraq, war has not brought liberation to Afghanistan. Neither war was really about democracy or justice or uprooting terrorist groups; rather they were and are about U.S. strategic interests in the region. We Afghans have never liked being pawns in the ‘Great Game’ of empire, as the British and the Soviets learned in the past century.
It is a shame that so much of Afghanistan’s reality has been kept veiled by a western media consensus in support of the ‘good war.’ Perhaps if the citizens of North America had been better informed about my country, President Obama would not have dared to send more troops and spend taxpayers’ money on a war that is only adding to the suffering of our people and pushing the region into deeper conflicts.
A troop ‘surge’ in Afghanistan, and continued air strikes, will do nothing to help the liberation of Afghan women. The only thing it will do is increase the number of civilian casualties and increase the resistance to occupation.
To really help Afghan women, citizens in the U.S. and elsewhere must tell their government to stop propping up and covering for a regime of warlords and extremists. If these thugs were finally brought to justice, Afghan women and men would prove quite capable of helping ourselves.
Malalai Joya was the youngest member of the Afghan Parliament, elected in 2005 to represent Farah Province. In May 2007 she was unjustly suspended from Parliament. Her memoir, Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, is forthcoming later this year from Rider.
From Lenin’s Tomb blog in England:
One of the most interesting questions that came up in my talk at Wadham College last night was whether those who lead us into war on the pretext of saving women from oppression or upholding human rights are purely cynics, or whether there is a sense in which they uphold a sort of neoliberal or bourgeois ‘common sense’ which happens to be contiguous with a defence of ruling class interests.
May 15, 10:22 AM EDT
Rights group: US procedures fail Afghan civilians
By AMIR SHAH and HEIDI VOGT
Associated Press Writers
KABUL — Human Rights Watch accused the U.S. military of not doing enough to reduce civilian casualties during battles in Afghanistan and called Friday for “fundamental changes” to prevent civilian deaths like those during an airstrike this month.
Two international troops, meanwhile, were killed in fighting with insurgents in the east Friday. NATO forces said the service members were attacked while on patrol, but did not provide other details or their nationalities.
In the south, a provincial official said 22 Taliban militants, including three regional commanders, were killed in overnight fighting.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said its independent investigation into a May 4-5 clash that killed scores of people, including many women and children, found that measures put in place by the U.S. military to safeguard civilians were “inadequate.”
Afghans blame U.S. airstrikes for the deaths and destruction in two villages in western Farah province. American officials say the Taliban held villagers hostage during the fight.
It is unclear exactly how many people died in the fighting in Bala Baluk district. The Afghan government has paid out compensation to families for 140 dead, based on a list gathered from villagers. The U.S. military has said that figure is exaggerated, but has not given its own estimate.
If the Afghan toll is correct, it would be the largest case of civilian deaths since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban.
Villagers told Human Rights Watch they first came under attack from Taliban fighters who were demanding a share of their poppy income, but it was during the bombings that most of the civilians were killed.
The group reiterated its condemnation of Taliban practices of using civilians as human shields and deploying its fighters in populated areas, but said its interviews did not suggest residents were used as human shields in Bala Baluk.
Villagers told researchers for the watchdog group the firefight between Taliban and Afghan and U.S. forces had ended before the evening bombing began. The U.S. has said militants were still firing in the villages when it dropped bombs on the site in the evening.
“Even if some Taliban remained in the village, dropping a dozen bombs into a residential area doesn’t seem to make much sense,” Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, said in a statement.
“The U.S. needs to answer some basic questions about the sources and quality of information it requires before authorizing these kinds of devastating bombing runs,” Adams said.
U.S. military guidelines issued following a previous battle that resulted in large-scale civilian deaths charges commanders taking fire from an Afghan house to “satisfy themselves that every effort has been made to confirm that the Afghan facility does not shelter innocent civilians.”
Human Rights Watch noted that international troops have also been told to consider pulling out of firefights in areas with large numbers of civilians.
On Thursday, a band of Taliban fighters attacked two police checkpoints in Helmand province’s Nawzad district, taking control of the stations and forcing the officers to flee, said Dawood Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
The police launched a counterattack with the help of an airstrike, killing 22 insurgents. Three men who acted as Taliban chiefs in Nawzad and surrounding districts were among the dead, Ahmadi said. He said no Afghan forces died in the fighting.
Also Friday, a U.S. Predator drone crashed in the east for unspecified reasons. The drone was not shot down and the cause of the crash was being investigated, the U.S. said in a statement.
Associated Press writer Noor Khan contributed to this report from Kandahar, Afghanistan
On the ‘Net:
THE NEW ISSUE OF TRAVELING SOLDIER IS OUT!
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Telling the truth – about the occupation or the criminals running the government in Washington – is the first reason for Traveling Soldier. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance – whether it’s in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces.
Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces.
If you like what you’ve read, we hope that you’ll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers. http://www.traveling-soldier.org/
And join with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home now! (www.ivaw.org/)
THIS ISSUE FEATURES:
1. Iraq Veterans Against the War Calls For Immediate Withdrawal From Afghanistan
2. Iraq vet explains, “Why I’m Against Obama’s Afghanistan”
3. Veterans Protest Operation: No Change
4. Love, Dad – a poem by a Vietnam Vet, Dennis Serdel
5. Download the new Traveling Soldier to pass it out at your school, workplace, or nearby base.
Click to access ts22.pdf
Why Pakistan’s military helped Talibanise Swat
By Farooq Sulehria
May 17, 2009 — The mass exodus from Swat is making headlines globally.
Over a million have been displaced. This is the worst humanitarian
crisis since the Rwanda tragedy in 1990s. The explanation offered is
that this is necessary to flush the Taliban out of Swat’s lush, green
valley in Pakistan’s north. This military operation, launched in order
to stabilise the US occupation of Afghanistan and its so-called “war on
terror”, is hardly mentioned in the corporate media. On the contrary,
major US newspapers have been invoking the fear that Pakistan’s nuclear
weapons might fall into the hands of the Taliban. Is this a story
planted by the CIA?
* Read more http://links.org.au/node/1052
Joya spoke of being expelled from the Afghan parliament and threatened with rape for speaking out against the country’s warlords. While she is forced to live a life under daily threats, the true criminals and warlords continue to sit in parliament. She uses her voice to denounce the laws that provide impunity for those in government who rule with disregard for public interest and thrive on corruption. Her commitment to the people of Afghanistan and her anger at being silenced was palpable.
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