The Sydney Stop the War Coalition (StWC) used the day of the sham presidential elections in Afghanistan to again call on the Rudd government to get the Australian troops out of the country. The war on Afghanistan was not a "good war", the peace group said on August 20.
"Hamid Karzai, president and only one of 41 candidates, is no longer Washington's favourite in today's travesty of an election", said StWC's Anne Picot.
"A puppet president installed by the Bush administration, Karzai has kept himself in power thanks to his deals with warlords and the US military", Picot said. Meanwhile, war, hunger and devastation are making life hell for the people of Afghanistan.
"Eight years of war has devastated Afghanistan", Picot said. "Tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed, maimed or driven from their homes and more than four million refugees are still waiting in neighbouring countries.
"According to the UN Development Program, nothing has improved under Karzai's government: adult literacy is 23.5%; only 31% of households have access to water; life expectancy is 43 years, while over six million Afghans are at risk of starvation.
"Sixty-eight thousand foreign troops occupy the country. Yet the influence of the Taliban has spread from the south to the north, and they are able to threaten voters with violence."
Marlene Obeid, also from StWC, condemned the key reason given for the invasion asd hypocritical — the liberation of Afghan women. "Women have not fared any better!
Malalai Joya, a female Afghan MP, has been the target of several assassination attempts and has been barred from parliament because she has condemned the Karzai government and the warlords for war crimes and abuse of women. The newly-passed law condoning rape in marriage is a case in point.
"No one knows the total number of Afghan civilians who have died in this war, as these figures are deemed to be not significant enough to determine. We do know, however, that 11 Australian soldiers and 1319 US-NATO forces have been killed in this eight-year long war", said Obeid.
In this year's budget, Australia has committed $1.4 billion to continuing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and very little for reconstruction.
StWC is organising a protest in Sydney on October 8, the eighth anniversary of the invasion, demanding Prime Minister Kevin Rudd bring the troops home. To get involved, call Pip on 0412 139 968 or visit www.stopwarcoalition.org.