Hundreds of Afghans attended a candlelight vigil on the evening of July 27 to commemorate the horrific attack on protestors the previous weekend in Kabul, which left 80 civilians dead and 230 wounded.
Sixty people listened as refugees gave harrowing accounts of what had led them to seek asylum in Australia at a forum in Parramatta on July 15 organised by People Just Like Us. Shokufa Tahiri and Ezatullah Salar spoke about the long history of oppression of the Hazara minority in Afghanistan. In 1890, Abdur Rahman Khan exterminated 63% of the minority group and until the 1930s Hazaras were systematically driven out of cities, and deprived of citizenship and education. Under the Taliban, it became a crime to be Hazara, Turkic or Shia.
Zakia Baig from the Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network speaking at the rally. One hundred and fifty people rallied in Melbourne on April 11 against the kidnapping of 31 Hazara people in Afghanistan. This action was part of Australia-wide rallies.
Vincent Emanuele is from the Iraq Veterans Against the War in the United States. He recently visited Australia to promote the documentary film On The Bridge which follows seven returning service men and women. This is an edited version of a speech that he gave to a forum hosted by the Marrickville Peace Group, the Independent and Peaceful Australia network and Stop the War Coalition in Sydney on February 26. ***
Najeeba Wazefadost came to Australia as a child refugee in September 2000 by a perilous journey by boat. She is now president of Hazara Women of Australia and I interviewed her for Green Left TV at a 500-strong Hazara community demonstration in the centre of Sydney on February 20 to protest the ongoing massacres of Shia in Pakistan. See the GLTV video and photos of the protest below.
Malalai Joya, a brave activist from Afghanistan who opposes Western occupation and local Afghan warlords, gives an impassioned message to the Australian government and the Australian people. Among the questions she answers are: Who is Australia supporting? What is the role of Australian troops in the occupation? What should Australian people do?
Republicans are trumpeting their big gains in the November 2 midterm elections as a mandate to turn the country sharply to the right. Don’t buy it. Mainstream media commentary on the election was largely set before a single vote was cast. Voters would correct President Barack Obama’s supposed leftward course in his first two years in office by sending a cabal of right-wingers to Congress. The scale of the Republican victories — especially in House of Representative races, where the party now holds a comfortable majority — cemented the media’s impressions.
Six fighters from the private army of Afghan warlord, drug trafficker and highway robber Matiullah Khan were recently in Australia for training with the Australian Defence Forces, the October 29 Sydney Morning Herald said. Khan’s power base is in Oruzgan province, where most Australian forces in Afghanistan are stationed. Such is Khan’s reputation for criminality and violence that Dutch forces, who before their withdrawal in August were the largest foreign contingent in Oruzgan, refused to work with him.
WOLLONGONG — The Illawarra's peak union body, the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC), has called on the Australian government to pull troops out of Afghanistan and pursue an independent foreign policy. “In recent decades Australia has been dragged into quagmire after quagmire — blindly following the United States into military disasters that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of military and civilian casualties”, Arthur Rorris, SCLC secretary, said on October 22.
A crude and jingoistic appeal to Australian patriotism is the last refuge of the pro-war scoundrels as we approach the Australian parliamentary debate on Afghanistan. Australia sent troops to Afghanistan in October 2001, but it has taken nine years for parliament to discuss this act of war. Is this how Australia’s celebrated democracy works? Australian troops were sent to wage wars on an impoverished, already war-devastated and traumatised country without even a discussion in parliament, let alone a vote.
The following statement was released by the Socialist Alliance on October 8. * * * On October 17, 2001, the Liberal/National Coalition government of John Howard deployed Australian troops to Afghanistan, just nine days after the US had begun bombing one of the most poverty-stricken and war-weary nations on Earth. The then newly-formed Socialist Alliance responded to this attack and its reputed catalyst, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, by noting the US' hypocrisy and pledging to campaign against then president George W. Bush's “war without end”.
US relations with Pakistan have deteriorated as the US continues to extend its war in neighbouring Afghanistan across the border. The US blames the use of sanctuaries in Pakistan by insurgents for the failure of the US-led occupation of Afghanistan to achieve its aims. Pakistan closed its border with Afghanistan after the September 30 shooting of three Pakistani soldiers by US soldiers in a helicopter. The US soldiers had crossed the border looking for insurgents.
As if straight out of a Cold War era movie, US corporate media outlets such as the Miami Herald ran headlines on September 18 claiming scientists from Albuquerque “tried to sell classified nuclear data to Venezuela”. Readers were no doubt shocked to read in the Miami Herald that “an elderly maverick scientist who battled the scientific community for decades over laser fusion was indicted Friday in New Mexico, charged with trying to sell classified nuclear weapons data to Venezuela”.
Citizens rallied in two Afghan cities on July 10 and 11, chanting slogans against the occupying powers and the unpopular regime of President Hamid Karzai for failing to protect civilians. On July 10, hundreds took to the streets of Mazar-i-Sharif to demand that all occupation forces leave. The protest was organised after an artillery barrage from occupying NATO forces killed six civilians in Paktia province on July 8 and US troops killed two civilians in a pre-dawn raid in the city on July 7. Protesters chanted slogans against occupation forces and Karzai.
Last updated July 7: What a difference a month and a change of leadership makes. In late May this year Julia Gillard said that Liberal-National opposition leader Tony Abbott's call for a return to the "Pacific solution" on refugees was just a "slogan not a solution" but now she's PM (with the blessing of mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata), it has once again become a "solution".
According to a recent study by the United States Geological Survey, Afghanistan has nearly one trillion dollars in mineral deposits. The study claimed to have found previously unknown reserves of lithium, gold, cobalt and other minerals. According to the New York Times: “An internal Pentagon memo … states that Afghanistan could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium’, a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.”