Mass Atrocity Monday, 1/20/2014

Welcome to Mass Atrocity Monday, your biweekly bulletin on lesser-known episodes of mass slaughter, systematic rape, and ethnic cleansing. No Holocaust, Rwandan Genocide, or Khmer Rouge here, folks. It’s going to be all Palmyra Prison, Khojaly, and She’ib massacres, all the time.

Today’s entry comes to us from Afghanistan. The year is 1978. The ominously-named government agency: The Department for Safeguarding the Interests of Afghanistan (AGSA). The victims: tens of thousands of Afghan citizens, accused of dissident activity and murdered by their own government.

Here’s what happened:

Following the April 1978 coup that brought them into power, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) began a brutal (and ultimately unsuccessful) campaign to secure its hold on the country. As was fashionable among communist revolutionaries at the time, the regime rounded up professionals, intellectuals, and civic leaders.

Over the next 20 months, thousands of Afghan civilians were abducted, tortured, and in many cases extrajudicially executed. (The unpublished UN mapping report estimates that as many as 100,000 people may have been disappeared during this period.) For decades the families of these individuals have waited; first for their loved ones to come home, then for information about their fate. But as Afghanistan has reeled from one crisis to the next, no official acknowledgment or justice process has been forthcoming.

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 3.49.10 PM

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 3.47.32 PMRecently, however, a partial list of victims was made public by an unlikely source: the Dutch government. In 1993, a man called Amanullah Osman applied for asylum in the Netherlands. At his interview, he identified himself as the former head of AGSA’s interrogation unit and admitted to having been responsible for torture and executions. Unsurprisingly, the Dutch did not grant him asylum. What they did do was open a criminal investigation.

Over the course of their investigation, the Dutch police obtained from witnesses a set of Transfer Orders, documenting the movement of political prisoners between detention centers, and a list of 4,785 people detained and killed during the purges. In fact, the “death list” is one of a series “released in 1979 and 1980 by leaders who sought to tarnish the reputation of their predecessors.”

These lists did not make their way into the hands of the families of the disappeared, many of whom have continued searching for closure for 35 years. The Dutch authorities therefore decided to make publicly searchable both the death list and the transfer orders. With the release of this information, a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Afghanistan’s decades of violence may finally know peace of mind. But so far, no one has received justice.

 

*For more information, check out the aforementioned UN Mapping Report, the work of the Afghanistan Justice Project, and this old-timey Amnesty International report (from 1979!).

Quote of the Month

There’s a fascinating BBC News Magazine piece today about young Afghan girls who live as boys.

According to the article, there is a longstanding tradition wherein Afghan parents disguise a daughter as a son, either to avoid the social censure of having no male children, or to enable the child to work outside the home. When the girls reach maturity, they are expected to switch their gender identification and live as women.

Although some of the young women interviewed for the article approvingly cite the benefits of having had the opportunity to enjoy male freedoms, it’s clear that the transition back to gender conformity can be rough. In what has to be the most fascinating sentence I’ve read all month, a 20 year old woman named Elaha makes clear her reluctance to resume a traditional female identity:

“If my parents force me to get married, I will compensate for the sorrows of Afghan women and beat my husband so badly that he will take me to court every day.”

My favorite part is the offhand reference to courts as the appropriate venue for addressing domestic violence, but wow, what a loaded statement.

WTF Friday, 3/16/2012

This week in first world problems: “‘It’s not cheap like it used to be,’ laments Dale Weathington of Kolcraft, an American firm that uses contract manufacturers to make prams in southern China. Labour costs have surged by 20% a year for the past four years, he grumbles (emphasis mine).” This sounds like the curmudgeonest dude in history. Also I’m pretty sure he makes an imaginary product.

“Sixteen civilians [have] been killed in a shooting spree by a U.S. officer stationed in Afghanistan…The incident is the latest in a series of widely publicized self-inflicted setbacks for U.S. forces in recent months. In February, Qurans were mistakenly burned as garbage at a military base in Afghanistan, which led to deadly riots. In January, a video of U.S. forces urinating on Taliban corpses surfaced on the Internet.” Reaction from Newt Gingrich: “We’re not prepared to be ruthless enough.” Just so everybody has it straight, to Newt Gingrich, massacring civilians and pissing on corpses counts as not ruthless enough.

ICC celebrates its decennial with…a verdict!

The New York Times Reports on Slavery in Afghanistan, Actually Uses the S-Word.

The following is a guest post from Una Moore, who blogs for U.N. Dispatch.  Thanks Una!

Human rights abuses in Afghanistan are too often wrapped in euphemisms and exoticism. Think: “opium brides.” The term conjures images of dark-eyed women sensually smoking from opium pipes while sitting on silk cushions, but it actually refers to little girls who are handed over to drug lords (who subsequently rape, traffic and sometimes kill them) by their indigent families as “repayment” for poppy crop debts. Most international media outlets are guilty of using terms like “opium bride” for people who, were they not South/Central Asian, would simply, bluntly, accurately be called victims of human trafficking. Because that’s what they are.

Given the prevalence of this double standard, I was surprised today when I read the New York Times article ‘For Punishment of Elder’s Misdeeds, Afghan Girl Pays the Price.’ In describing one of the most violent and heinous violations of women’s human rights in Afghanistan today, the NYT calls the practice of “baad” what it actually is: the enslavement of young girls and women for purposes of sexual exploitation and manual labor. It even used the s-word!

Despite being denounced by the United Nations as a “harmful traditional practice,” baad is pervasive in rural southern and eastern Afghanistan, areas that are heavily Pashtun, according to human rights workers, women’s advocates and aid experts. Baad involves giving away a young woman, often a child, into slavery and forced marriage. It is largely hidden because the girls are given to compensate for “shameful” crimes like murder and adultery and acts forbidden by custom, like elopement, say elders and women’s rights advocates.

The article tells the story of Shakila, a 10-year-old girl who was taken, along with her young cousin, by a family of local thugs in her native Kunar as punishment for her uncle running away with the wife of a warlord. Tied up in a dark room, starved, kept filthy, and beaten for months, Shakila finally escaped and made her way back to her parents. Her abusers quickly chased after her, and her family was then left with no choice but to flee from their village to the provincial capital. When interviewed by the NYT, Shakila’s father explains that it wasn’t the fact that his daughter was thrown against walls and fed only water and bread for months on end that bothered him most, it was the fact that he’d already promised Shakila to someone else by the time she was taken.

We did not mind giving girls,” said her father, Gul Zareen. “But she was not mine to give.”

Men like those who abused Shakila continue to operate with impunity in areas where there is little government presence to speak of and where local people rely on tribal dispute resolution mechanisms, the article goes on to explain. If you’ve worked in Afghanistan, as I have, you’ve heard it all before: people don’t trust the government, the courts are corrupt, tribal customs are deeply rooted, and so on. And all of that is true, but the NYT article highlights something else, something that gets at the real reason there’s so little meaningful opposition to baad –the grim fact that many urban, pro-government Afghan men support baad and similar practices that destroy the lives of Afghan women.

Take, for example, these jaw-dropping quotes from a member of parliament from Nangarhar province, another hot spot for the enslavement and trafficking of women and girls.

“Giving baad has good and bad aspects,” said Fraidoon Mohmand, a member of Parliament from Nangarhar Province, who has led a number of jirgas. “The bad aspect is that you punish an innocent human for someone else’s wrongdoings, and the good aspect is that you rescue two families, two clans, from more bloodshed, death and misery.”

[…] “When you give a girl in baad, they are beaten maybe, maybe she will be in trouble for a year or two, but when she brings one or two babies into the world, everything will be forgotten and she will live as a normal member of the family,” he said.

Did you get that? Enslaving women and girls isn’t really so terrible, because the rapes and beatings ease up after a few years and a few forced pregnancies.

Let that sink in for a few minutes.

WTF Friday, 7/15/11

In non-coltan/Congo/rape related telephone news, South Sudan will have 211 as its international dialing code, which also happens to be police “hundred code” for robbery in the great state of California. (A tenuous connection, get it?).

Shout out to Thomas E. Ricks for shouting out the Karzai family restaurant in Baltimore (I’ve eaten there too!). Negative points for linking to this. The Wire + John Waters ≠ Baltimore, guys. I guess the Karzai family restaurant isn’t exactly a fantastic claim to fame, though…

Puns, cursing, and democracy. This one’s got it all!

Really, Greg Mortenson? Really?

Since it’s the middle of a Thursday afternoon and I’m technically very busy with other work, this seems like as good a time as any to jot down my thoughts on Three-Cups-Of-Tea-Gate. In no particular order:

  • Good lord, remind me never to make Jon Krakauer mad. (Unless I have nothing better to do than respond to meticulously-researched 50-page takedowns of my life and dealings.)
  • While I am not willing to assume that either 60 Minutes or Krakauer got everything right, the available information tells me that Greg Mortenson and CAI have not been meeting their obligations as stewards of other people’s charitable donations. “I don’t know” and “I won’t tell you” are not, to my mind, reasonable answers to the question “what did you do with the money I gave you to build schools with?”
  • It is clear that the success of Greg Mortenson’s book has brought tremendous benefits to CAI, by increasing donations to it and raising its profile. However, that does not mean that it’s okay for the charity to foot the bill for promoting the book, when all the revenue from it goes to Mortenson and his publisher. This isn’t a “grey area,” it’s “tax fraud.” You can’t use the funds from a tax-exempt nonprofit to pay for your personal for-profit activity.
  • Also, private jets? Seriously?
  • When I first heard about 3 Cups of Tea and CAI, I wondered if they were actually running schools, or just building them. The emphasis on the latter seemed weird. Buildings are nice, but surely “lack of freestanding dedicated structures” wasn’t the main barrier to education in poor, rural areas that lacked infrastructure and transportation links? I actually read the book, ages ago, in the hope of finding out how CAI was handling teacher recruitment, salary, and curriculum issues. It did not answer my questions, but at the time I didn’t see that as a sign of foul play. I figured that either (a) such bureaucratic details had been sacrificed in service of narrative, or (b) they were just building buildings, which is kind of lame.
  • I guess it turns out that the answer was (c), “all of the above.”
  • And while we’re on the subject of things-that-get-sacrificed-in-the-service-of-narrative, if the books really contain the “factual inaccuracies” alleged by Krakauer and 60 Minutes, then to me, that is even more upsetting than all of the private jet malarkey. What, exactly, was the thought process there? “Oh, these brown people will never read this book, so it doesn’t matter if we call them terrorists and accuse them of kidnapping”? “Why would anyone check this story with actual Pakistanis or Afghans, when we have white people they can talk to right here?” Not cool, man. You can’t just do that.
  • Well, it turns out you can, but I don’t like it.
In short, for the time being, Greg Mortenson and CAI are on my bad list. As per usual bad-rules, they will remain there until they do something to convince me that they should be taken off of it.
Further reading: Krakauer’s medium opus, The American Institute of Philanthropy’s evaluation of CAI, Nick Kristof urges restraint, Chris Blattman agrees, Megan McArdle reminds us that when we demand “messianic development projects and neat stories with happy endings,” what we get is development done by people with messiah complexes, and neat stories that aren’t actually true.

Latest Indignity Heaped upon Afghan Women: Tacky Wedding Gowns

The catalogue of rights violations against women in Afghanistan is substantial:  Forced marriages, denial of the right to an education (including by appalling means such as arson and acid attacks), inadequate medical care, and domestic and sexual violence with limited recourse to law.

Add to the list that the government may now regulate what women can wear to their own weddings.  According to an article in the Guardian, under a proposed new law, monitoring committees would patrol weddings to ensure that brides are not dressed immodestly.  The provision is apparently an add-on to a bill attempting to regulate private spending on weddings.  It would also mandate that women not pay more than $100 on their dresses.

Ugly and cheap – just what every woman dreams of for her wedding gown.

(For those who may be thinking that, like last night’s geography mix-up from New York Magazine, this sounds too absurd to be true and must be an April Fools joke, I’ll just say “we can hope” and point you to the earlier coverage of the draft law…)

If You’re Smart, Surround Yourself With Smart People Who Disagree With You

(This is ancient news in internet-years, but I kept waiting for someone else to make this point when the story was actually making headlines, and as far as I could tell, no one did. So now I’m writing about it. If you think that General McChrystal’s firing is insufficiently au courant blog fare, feel free to stop reading now.)

To recap, for anyone who has been in an internet-less cave this month: a couple of weeks ago, Rolling Stone published a profile of U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, who was then in charge of the U.S.’s military efforts in Afghanistan,, and there was some stuff in it that was way harsh, Tai. President Obama didn’t like that – apparently it’s cool to have disagreements, but not divisions – so McChrystal got fired. (Oh, and also there were a bunch of Russian spies living boring lives in American suburbs. That’s not what this post is about, but if you’ve been in an internet-less cave, you probably missed the spyskies too.)

The press seems to have smelled blood in the water the second that the White House first got wind of the piece, the Monday before it came out. Every major news organization offered minute-by-minute updates on every scrap of rumor, innuendo, and third-party opinion they could lay their hands on, until they finally got to feast on the carcass of a career destroyed the way god intended: by a journalist. A freelancer, no less.

Somehow, though, all the wailing and gnashing of teeth seems to have overlooked something: essentially all of the juicy quotes from the article are not from McChrystal. Rather, they’re quotes from largely-anonymous “aides” and “insiders.” So, as best I can tell, McChrystal was relieved of command of our troops in Afghanistan because people who were not McChrystal said things about our civilian leadership that were considered out of bounds, and McChrystal was….nearby at the time?

Seriously, let’s review the tape here. That infamous “Biden? Did you say: Bite Me?” quote was from a “top advisor.” The contention that McChrystal thought that Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” at their first meeting apparently came from “sources familiar with the meeting.” It was an “advisor to McChrystal” who claimed that the meeting where Obama placed the general in charge of Afghanistan was a “10 minute photo op,” in which “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, and he didn’t seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed.” A paragraph claiming that “team McChrystal” likes to “talk shit about many of Obama’s top people on the diplomatic side” also only quotes anonymous aides: one who calls Jim Jones a “clown” who “remains stuck in 1985,” one who criticizes senators who swoop in for meet-and-criticize sessions with Karzai, then fly home again in time for the Sunday talk shows. (And, it should be noted, an “advisor” who says nice things about Hillary Clinton.)

I could go on. (For instance, it’s an “advisor” who says that McChrystal is especially skeptical of Holbrooke, and refers to the diplomat as a “wounded animal.”)

Of course, none of that would matter if what McChrystal said was really objectionable. So, was it? Judge for yourself: after the jump is a list of all of the quotes that Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings actually obtained from the general himself. Let me know what you think. Was there anything in those 11 statements that was a firing offense? Or are we holding McChrystal responsible for quotes that the reporter got from other, anonymous sources – who have not, as far as we know, been fired?

I think it’s the latter. This article was skillfully written: many of the devastating soundbites are nestled up against less-damning but related quotes from McChrystal, giving the impression that he agreed with what had been said. And, because many of the anonymous quotes seem to have been from people who worked for him, some commentators seem to have assumed that McChrystal must have condoned an environment in which civilian leaders were disrespected. Maybe so. But should that be a firing offense?

I don’t think so. I’m not comfortable with the idea that the tenure of the general responsible for running an entire war should hang by the slender thread of a bunch of third parties’ anonymous comments. That strikes me as not only fundamentally unfair, but also easily manipulated. Worse, it will encourage leaders to censor their subordinates whenever possible, and limit their access to the media. I imagine every ambitious officer in the country right now is deciding how to put a moat between the press and anyone who knows anything about him.

Didn’t President Obama ever watch Sports Night? “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” McChrystal seems to have taken that advice to heart – in the article, he listens to a platoon of soldiers who criticize him, to his face and in front of a reporter, and then responds to their comments with patience and respect. The President, however, should perhaps brush up on his Aaron Sorkin leadership principles. Firing McChrystal over the anonymous comments made by other people sends a message to the military (and the rest of Washington, for that matter) that surrounding yourself with smart people who disagree with you is now career suicide. That’s a pretty decent way to ensure that ambitious people will now surround themselves with sycophantic hacks, instead. So, yay! Because that will surely have a really swell effect on our ability to find strong, creative solutions to the several problems currently facing this country.

What McChrystal Actually Said to the Rolling Stone Reporter:
(quotes in bold, explanatory text not in bold):

  1. He asked how he got “screwed into” going to dinner with a French government minister, and says he’d “rather have his ass kicked by a room full of people” than attend, but that “unfortunately, no one in this room could do it.”
  2. He asked “What’s the update on the Kandahar bombing?”
  3. He said that when Obama took three months to decide on an Afghanistan strategy last fall, “I found that time painful. I was selling an unsellable position.”
  4. He imagined responding to an awkward question about Vice President Biden (who, a few months earlier, had publicly criticized the counterinsurgency strategy that McChrystal advocated) with “Are you asking about Vice President Biden? Who’s that?”
  5. During the course of a drunken night out at an Irish bar, he pointed to his carousing advisors and said “all these men, I’d die for them. And they’d die for me.” Also, apparently he and his aides sang some sort of “Afghanistan song” that they had made up, which goes “Afghanistan!….Afghanistan!”
  6. Later, upon receiving an email on his blackberry from Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, he groaned “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke, I don’t even want to open it.”
  7. When asked about a leaked classified cable sent by U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, which Hastings describes as a “brutal critique” of McChrystal’s strategy, the general said “I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before,” that he felt “betrayed” by the leak, and “here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.'”
  8. Upon graduating from West Point, McChrystal recalls that he and his classmates “really felt like we were a peacetime generation.” “There was the gulf war, but even that didn’t feel like that big of a deal.”
  9. He goes to visit a platoon stationed outside Kandahar after one of their soldiers is killed, and has a 45-minute discussion with about 2 dozen of the platoon’s surviving members. “I ask you what’s going on in your world, and I think it’s important for you all to understand the big picture as well.” He continues, “How’s the company doing? You guys feeling sorry for yourselves? Anybody? Anybody feel like you’re losing?” A soldier pipes up to say that yes, some of the guys do feel that way. McChrystal nods, and responds “Strength is leading when you just don’t want to lead. You’re leading by example. That’s what we do. Particularly when it’s really, really hard, and it hurts inside.”
  10. He then spends 20 minutes describing counterinsurgency theory, diagramming the concepts and principles on a whiteboard. “We are knee-deep in the decisive year,” he says, telling the troops that the Taliban doesn’t have the initiative, “but I don’t think we do, either.” The soldiers seem skeptical, so McChrystal cracks a joke: “This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks, but it doesn’t get the same reception from infantry companies.”
  11. McChrystal then takes comments from the soldiers, many of whom are angry and frustrated. They complain about “not being allowed to use lethal force, about watching insurgents they detain be freed for lack of evidence,” and want to “be able to fight.” The general listens, but tells them it’s not that simple: “Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing. The Russians killed 1 million Afghans, and that didn’t work.” When the soldier persists, claiming that their restraint is empowering the insurgency, McChrystal responds “I agree with you. IN this area, we’ve not made progress, probably. You have to show strength here, you have to use fire. What I’m telling you is, fire costs you. What do you want to do? You want to wipe the population out here and resettle it?” Another soldier complains about having to assume that “any insurgent who doesn’t have a weapon” is a civilian. McChrystal says that’s a necessary evil: “That’s the way this game is. It’s complex. I can’t just decide: it’s shirts and skins, and we’ll kill all the shirts.”
  12. The soldiers remain unconvinced. Before leaving, McChrystal acknowledges the pain that the death of their comrade has caused them. “There’s no way I can make that easier. No way I can pretend it won’t hurt. No way I can tell you not to feel that . . . . I will tell you, you’re doing a great job. Don’t let the frustration get to you.”
  13. He acknowledges the complexity of the war he’s fighting: “even Afghans are confused by Afghanistan.”

So which of those statements is a sackable offense? Is it because he insulted the French?

Headlines As Mad Libs


[ 1 ] [ 2 ] in [ 3 ] as [ 4 ].

1. An uncivilized activity that the natives are liable to get up to without proper supervision. ( Bonus points if it hurts puppies.)

2. Synonym for “returns.”

3. A developing country. Preferably one full of brown people (who are in need of proper supervision.)

4. Reference to U.S./U.N./E.U./NATO incompetence at providing said proper supervision. (This part can remain unwritten, but should at the very least be heavily implied in the story’s text. References to how previous, famously despotic leaders managed to prevent the uncivilized activity in question always work well for this purpose.)

Today’s entry is from the New York Times, which throws out:

1. Dogfighting (Puppy bonus points, so +3), (but then -1, for not involving any mass rapes in Africa)

2. Making a Comeback (+2, for managing to insinuate [4] without spelling it out)

3. Afghanistan (+3 for being a country everyone’s heard of), (but -1 for not involving African rape at all)

4. BECAUSE THE BUSH ADMINSTRATION ARE TOTES LOSERS WHO DON’T KNOW HOW TO PROTECT PUPPIES EVEN AS WELL AS THE TALIBAN. Oh, sorry, was that out loud? (+5, because they are, in fact, totes losers) (but -5, because no it was not)

“Afghans like to fight. They will boast about this. They will say that fighting is in their blood. And for all the horrors of three decades of war, they still find room to fight for fun, most often through proxies: cocks, rams, goats, camels, kites.

And dogs. Dogfighting was banned under the Taliban, who considered it un-Islamic. But since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, the sport has regained its earlier popularity, with dogfighters entering their charges in informal weekly tournaments on dusty lots in the country’s major cities.”

(+5, because hahahaha “cocks”), (but -10, for saying that the people of Afghanistan are bloodthirsty savages who could use a good Talibaning.)

Today in Illegitimate Trials

Meet Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, Dangerous Criminal.

So dangerous, in fact, that it took an Afghan court only four minutes to convict him of blasphemy and sentence him to death. Talk about the right to a speedy trial!

His crime? Downloading (*gasp*) and reading (*faint*) an article about women’s rights. More specifically, an article commenting on Quranic verses that discuss Muslim women, and wondering whether it is legitimate for a man to have more than one wife.

Kambaksh was so clearly guilty that the court didn’t need to waste its precious actually-in-session time, preferring to hold a quickie tribunal after closing for the day. (That this meant journalists and Kambaksh’s family were unable to attend was, of course, a complete coincidence. ) And it goes without saying that he was not represented by counsel: the court was obviously worried that the pure and unbesmirched attorney would be at risk of getting some infidel on himself if he came anywhere near the proceedings.

The court also thoughtfully refused to let Kambaksh speak in his own defense. See, if he had been allowed to respond to the charges, he might have defended what he had done. And then he would have blasphemed again. And then the whole court proceeding would have turned into a Monty Python sketch.

“You blasphemed!”
“No, it was just an article! It was harmless!”
“There, you did it again!”
“No, I didn’t.”
“You did it again!”

That would have been a terrible affront to the integrity of the lawyerless four-minute after hours tribunal.

Also, it might have made people late for dinner.

(After the jump: Information about how to join The Independent’s campaign to free Kambaksh, and a reprinted letter from Malalai Joya, who was a member of the Afghan National Assembly until she was forced out in 2007 for standing up for, you know, a little integrity):

British newspaper The Independent has launched a campaign to free Mr. Kambaksh by pressuring the British Foreign Office on his behalf. You can sign their petition here.

Feminist Lawprof blogger Kathleen Bergin drew my attention to this letter from Malalai Joya in her post about Kambaksh’s shameful treatment. It’s not subtle, but since we’re talking about Afghan women’s rights, I’m all in favor of listening to a brave Afghan woman’s take:

“After six years in control, this government has proved itself to be as bad as the Taliban – in fact, it is little more than a photocopy of the Taliban. The situation in Afghanistan is getting progressively worse – and not just for women, but for all Afghans.
Our country is being run by a mafia, and while it is in power there is no hope for freedom for the people of Afghanistan. How can anyone, man or woman, enjoy basic freedoms when living under the shadow of warlords? The government was not democratically elected, and it is now trying to use the country’s Islamic law as a tool with which to limit women’s rights.
In 2007 more women killed themselves in Afghanistan than ever before – that shows that the situation hasn’t got any better. The murder of women in Afghanistan is like the killing of birds, because this government is anti-women. Women are vulnerable – recently a 22-year-old woman was raped in front of her children by 15 local commanders of a fundamentalist party, closely connected to the government. The commanders then urinated in the face of the children. These things happen frequently.
I utterly condemn this undemocratic act of those in power against Sayed Pervez Kambaksh. This situation has exposed the corruption of the government, which is inherently undemocratic, which does not believe in women’s rights and which is willing to go to extreme lengths to prevent freedom of speech. Mr Kambaksh has not broken any law, but he is a “real” journalist, one who is not afraid to write articles exposing the corruption of the fundamentalists in power. This has been a bloody year for journalists in Afghanistan, and they are now in a lot of danger.
If Mr Kambaksh is killed for his “crime”, then tomorrow it will be someone else. The situation that the press is faced with gives you a clear indication of the level of freedom and democracy in the country as a whole.”