On November 18, 2001, Laura Bush gave her first radio address urging worldwide condemnation of the treatment of women in Afghanistan. She stated that the “fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. The plight of women and children in Afghanistan, the then-US First Lady said, was “a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control”.
Najaf Mazari, an Afghan refugee, rug-maker and author addressed a meeting of about 70 people at the Eltham College in Melbourne on May 17. He described his life in an Afghani village and his journey to a new life in Australia, including his time in a detention centre. The event was organised by the Diamond Valley Oxfam group and supported by the Eltham bookshop.
Over recent weeks, lawyers and campaigners have been racing to the courts to prevent immigration department plans to deport Afghan refugees back to Kabul. Refugee advocates raised alarm bells on March 5 when four Afghan Hazara refugees who had been living in the community on bridging visas were re-detained after attending scheduled immigration meetings.
In the week that US citizen Bradley Manning admitted in court that he leaked military secrets to reveal to the public the “the true costs of war”, I attended the first screening in Sydney of the documentary On The Bridge. The screening was part of the inaugural Big Picture Festival, a social justice film festival.
More than 200 people from Melbourne’s Hazara community held a three-hour protest in Federation Square on February 25 to draw attention to the rising violence against the Hazara community in Pakistan. About 100 Hazara people were killed in the latest bomb massacre in the city of Quetta in Balochistan province on February 16.
In a lengthy editorial on October 13, the United States’ most important ruling-class voice concluded that the war in Afghanistan has failed, and that the US should get out as soon as possible. New York Times editors said in an editorial titled "Time To Pack Up and Leave Afghanistan" that:“The United States will not achieve even President Obama’s narrowing goals, and prolonging the war will only do more harm.”
The shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai has unleashed a wave of revulsion and protest in Pakistan, along with a wave of media attention around the world. Across the political spectrum people are, quite naturally, interpreting this brutal crime through their own ideological lenses. Unfortunately, leaps of logic and aggressive, violent non-sequiturs abound. This is in both the misogyny-addled justifications for this brazen assassination attempt and in the attempts to use this sickening attack as cover or justification for deadly and destructive foreign interventions.
Malalai Joya is an Afghan feminist and democracy activist who organised underground resistance to the Taliban regime and opposes the US-led occupation of her nation. Joya was elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005, and was undemocratically expelled from it for exposing the fundamentalist warlords in the US-backed Hamid Karzai regime. In an October 13 statement, Joya responded to the Taliban's attempted murder of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for the crime of organising for women's rights. * * *
Residents of the Nad Ali district staged a demonstration on October 6 against NATO-led troops in Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, Pajhwok Afghan News said that say. About 100 protesters accused the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers of killing innocent civilians during operations in the district, PAN said. District security was recently handed to Afghan forces. The article said: “[O]ne tribal elder claimed Afghan and foreign forces killed his son during a nighttime raid two days back.
Raz Mohammad Khan and his adult son Abdul Jalil were shot dead in their home in the village of Sola, Oruzgan province, by Australian troops on August 31. Claims by the Australian government and the US-led occupation forces in Afghanistan that the two men were insurgents have been refuted by villagers and US-appointed Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Occupation forces spokesperson US Air Force Captain Dan Einert described them as “military-aged”, the September 3 Sydney Morning Herald reported. Mohammad Khan was 70 years old.
The Sydney Refugees Action Coalition released the statement below on September 7. * * * A High Court decision this morning has dismissed an application of behalf of five asylum seekers seeking to extend judicial review to discretionary ministerial decisions. In a similar application (M61) in 2010, the High Court found that asylum seekers were entitled to judicial review of appeal decisions. The High Court judgment means that there is now no legal impediment to the government moving to deport a large number of asylum seekers.
The Stop the War Coalition Sydney released the statement below on September 5. * * * The West’s “war on terror” has delivered a war of terror on the Afghan people said Christine Keavney, a spokesperson for Sydney Stop the War Coalition today. “The deaths of five Australian soldiers on August 30 and the aftermath has prompted more discussion of the war in Afghanistan and Australia’s role in it than has been heard for years”, said Keavney.