The Acts of the Democracies
Years : ALL
Victim Country : Afghanistan
20 Items Selected
These invasions occurred in 1839, 1878 and 1919. The border between Afghanistan and Paskitan was drawn on the map by the British in 1893. This border passes through the heartland of the Pashtun so that half live in each country. The Pashtuns still hold the UK responsible for the division of their people.
Ossama Bin Laden, a Saudi businessman, is encouraged by the USA to set up training camps in Afganistan. In one action, Bin Laden led his men to attack a mixed school (of boys and girls - set up by the previous regime) and kill all the teachers.
After the defeat of the USSR, the fighters turn on each other. After years of atrocities the country comes under the Taliban. They introduce an extreme form of Islam in the country and are politically and culturally anti-Western. Education for girls and women is banned and women must be completely covered if going out.
No help or support is offered to Afganistan by the USA or Europe once the USSR is expelled and the country is left to stagnate.
In 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to the USA president, Jimmy Carter, would admit that the USA began sending military aid to Afghanistan's Islamic fighters six months before the USSR invasion. He believed (and told the president) that "this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention". Brzezinski went on to say "The secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap... Indeed for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war..."
The suffering of the Afghan people was a side issue of the Cold War. 50% of the Aghan population would end up dead, disabled, or as refugees.
The Islamic jihad is supported by the USA and Saudi Arabia with a significant part of the funding generated from the drug trade in the Golden Crescent (Burma and Thailand).
Motivated by nationalism and religious fervour, the Islamic warriors are unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of the USA. While there are contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in Afghanistan have no contacts with the USA government or the CIA.
A study by Alfred McCoy confirms that within two years of the beginning of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, "the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world's top heroin producer, supplying 60 percent of USA demand. In Pakistan, the heroin addict population went from near zero in 1979... to 1,200,000 by 1985, a much steeper rise than in any other nation".
CIA assets control the heroin trade. As the Mujahideen (holy warriors) seize territory inside Afghanistan, they order peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan's ISI operated hundreds of heroin laboratories. During this decade of drug dealing, the USA Drug Enforcement Agency in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, fail to instigate major seizures or arrests ... USA officials had refused to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies "because [USA] narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there."
The former CIA director of the Afghan operation, Charles Cogan, would eventually admit the CIA had indeed sacrificed the drug war to fight the Cold War:
"Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets. We didn't really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,... I don't think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout.... There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan."
The USA oil company Unocal, invites some of the leaders of the Taliban to Houston, where they are royally entertained. The company offers the new regime payment for oil and gas transported through Afganistan via a pipeline. A figure of 15% is mentioned.
Unocal had been seeking since 1995 to build oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and into Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea. The company's scheme requires a single administration in Afghanistan, which would guarantee safe passage for its goods.
Initially, the USA supports the Taliban. A couple of years later, a USA diplomat would state:
"the Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco [a US oil consortium which worked in Saudi Arabia], pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that."
This government had been financed by the USA, UK and Saudi Arabia and is supported by the democratically elected government of Pakistan. Support from the West will only wane when permission to build an oil pipeline is not forthcoming.
Two USA embassies in Africa are bombed with hundreds of casualties. The USA blames Islamic terrorists and bombs Afghanistan with cruise missiles. The missiles overfly Pakistan without permission, an illegal act under international law.
When asked on USA television why so much terrorist action is directed against the USA, Richard Haas, a foreign policy advisor, replies: "Well, the answer is it's not anything we're simply doing. It is who we are. It's the fact that we're the most powerful country in the world. It's the fact that we're a secular country... It is simply who we are and it is our existence that really bothers them."
The USA president Bill Clinton answers the same question with: "Americans are targets of terrorism, in part, because we act to advance peace and democracy and because we stand united against terrorism."
A USA diplomat quoted in the USA newspaper, Los Angeles Times (4 August 1996) had a different view of events: "This is an insane instance of the chickens coming home to roost. You can't plug billions of dollars into an anti-Communist jihad, accept participation from all over the world and ignore the consequences. But we did. Our objectives weren't peace and grooviness in Afghanistan. Our objective was killing Commies and getting the Russians out."
The Wahhabis are a sect of Islam which bans all representation of human forms (including photographs, paintings, sculptures and television), forbids the playing of music and abhors the independence of females.
The USA government of George W Bush gives $43 million to the Taliban in May.
"Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan."
The Western media stir up the situation with calls for collective punishments. Bill O'Reilly proclaims on the USA's Fox News Channel:
"The USA should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble -- the airport, the power plants, their water facilities and the roads. We should not target civilians, but if they don't rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period."
New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy writes:
"As for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball courts."
Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review (USA) writes:
"If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution."
Although the USA states that civilian casualties will be minimised, Cluster Bombs are dropped. These break up into bomblets which can lie dormant on the ground until touched, often long after the conflict has ended. Human Rights Watch estimate that 5000 (30%) of these bomblets lie in the ground unexploded. They are of similar colour and size as food parcels dropped by USA planes. Daisy Cutter bombs are also used which flatten an area of over 1km radius.
A United Nations official in Afghanistan estimates that live bombs and mines maim, on average 40 to 100 people a week in the country and 50% of these die before they get any medical help.
Logistical and political aid for the attack on Afganistan is obtained from a number of countries (often by bribes or concessions) including:
In northern Afganistan, the West helps anti Taliban fighters called the Northern Alliance.
The Northern Alliance had ruled the country between 1990 and 1996. During that time they trafficked in hard drugs, killed more than 25,000 civilians and raped thousands of women and girls, using many as sex slaves. In several incidents they threw acid in women's faces because they were not covered up.
Aid agencies (including Oxfam, Action Aid, Christian Aid, and Islamic Relief ) call for a stop to the bombing after warning of a humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions of people, including 100,000 children under 5. This call is ignored.
Dead children being prepared for burial.
Northern Alliance troops pulling out gold teeth.
The reporting of the conflict in the West concentrates on the military hardware. A new crop of words enters the language:
Many Afghan and Arab prisoners are killed by Northern Aliance and USA forces in violation of the Geneva Conventions. In one case 280 bodies are buried in mass graves near the airport in Kandahar. More than 400 prisoners are killed in unexplained circumstances in Qala-i-Janghi fort at Mazar-i-Sharif. Calls by Amnesty International for an inquiry are ignored.
In the Western media, very little information about civilian casualties is given. This appears to be a deliberate policy. Walter Issacson, the chairman of USA satellite and cable news company, CNN, informs his staff:
"It seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties and hardship in Afganistan."
The Arabic satellite television station, Al-Jazeera, is considered by most people in the Middle East as the only source of news that is not government controlled. The USA Secretary of State, Colin Powell, expresses concern about their coverage of the war. When these concerns are ignored, the USA bombs the Kabul offices of the station, effectively denying a view of the conflict not controlled by Western media.
Marc Herold, an economics professor at the University of New Hampshire (USA), in a study published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian on 20 December, reports that between 7 October and 10 December, USA bombing has killed 3767 civilians in Afghanistan. This is a higher number than the victims in the 11 September attack on the USA. These are Afghan civilians who had nothing to do with the USA atrocity and who had no say in the make up or policies of the Afghani government because there had not been any elections for them to participate in. The figures mean that 60 to 65 civilians have been killed for every day of the bombing.
The study's findings are coraborated by aid agencies, the United Nations, eyewitnesses and media reports. It does not include civilians who died later of their injuries, people killed after 10 December, people who died because they were refugees from the bombing, military deaths (estimated to be in excess of 10,000), or prisoners killed in Mazar-i-Sharif, Qala-i-Janghi, Khandahar Airport or elsewhere.
This report (and the casualties) is ignored by most Western media unlike the blanket coverage given to the USA victims. After seven weeks of bombing the USA newspaper, The Los Angeles Times estimates that the death toll was "at least dozens of civilians."
The bombing includes power stations, telephone exchanges, educational establishments, utilities, hospitals, lorries and buses filled with refugees, fuel trucks, convoys of tribal leaders, residential districts in the cities, and dozens of villages. This is a sample of attacks and their civilian casualties.
The nearby village of Khan-e-Mairjuddin, is bombed with a death toll of over 100. A third village, Zaner Khel, reports being hit with nearly 100 civilian casualties after planes bomb the nearby house of a minor Taliban official.
The hijackers in the atrocity in the USA had been from countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt; countries which are considered allies to the USA (the "moderate states"). The Taliban government had been funded by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When the USA wants to extend its "war on terrorism", countries such as Iraq, Sudan and Yemen are mentioned. These are "rogue states", countries with governments that are not under the control of the USA.
This is in contrast to the few Western casualties who are named, pictured and their families described.
Afghan refugees returning to their villages are killed and maimed coming across unexploded cluster bombs. "As more people arrive in areas once abandoned, hospitals have been reporting an influx of wounded," according to the USA newspaper, the New York Times. Afghanistan is littered with unexploded cluster bombs, adding to the risk to civilians who also routinely die from the estimated 10 million land mines that remain from previous wars. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, an average of 88 Afghans die every month because of land mine and cluster bomb injuries.
The USA contributes $7 million for de-mining efforts but does not provided a list of areas where it dropped cluster bombs forcing de-mining workers to search for the bomblets themselves.
The USA takes hundreds of prisoners (Afghan and foreign) to a military base in Cuba. There is no extradition treaty between Afganistan and the USA, therefore the movement of the Afghans is illegal under international law. The USA labels the Afghans as "battlefield detainees" and "unlawful combatants" rather than "prisoners of war" so as to avoid having to abide by the Geneva Conventions. The USA selects a military base in Cuba so as to be able to try them by military tribunals without the protection of USA federal law. The International Red Cross, Amnesty International and other human rights groups condemn the USA and request access to the prisoners. These requests are ignored. The prisoners have their beards and hair shaved and are kept in cages open to the elements.
The UK lawyer, Michael Mansfield, declares that "the status of 'unlawful combatants' the the USA has given to them is not recognised in law. They can be categorised so that they are either people engaged in war against the invasion of Afghanistan or they are suspects linked to the conspiracy surrounding 11 September." Taking an alternative action violates the Geneva Convention.
The proposed military trials violate international law as UK member of parliament, Geoffry Robinson explains: "present American plans to try them will fundamentally breach the [Geneva] Convention".
According to Mary Robinson, the United Nations chief of human rights: "As fighters in an international conflict... they are entitled to Prisoner of War status." Michael Byers, a law expert from Duke University states that: "forcefully shaving their beards [is] a violation of the right to human dignity". Amnesty International makes it clear that "the conditions under which the prisoners are being held including hygiene, are of concern to us".
In contrast, John Walker, a USA citizen who converted to Islam and fought for the Taliban, is taken back to the USA for a trial under a properly constituted court with access to legal representation. The UK newspaper, The Independent writes:
"Not only are such double standards offensive in themselves, but they spread like a virus around the world and erode the rights of those feeling the sharp edge of state power under regimes less sensitive to human rights and their legal protections. Israel, India, Russia and Zimbabwe are only four states which have used the rhetoric of the war against terrorism for repressive internal purposes."
Hundreds of prisoners in Khandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif are held in unsheltered stockades in the depth of winter; groups of 110 people held in cells designed for 15. Many die from disease. These actions also violate the Geneva Convention.
The USA ignores world opinion. Ari Fleischer, a spokesman for the USA government states that: "the President is satisfied that they are being treated as Americans would want people to be treated." Donald Rumsfeld (USA Secretary of Defence) declares: "I do not feel the slightest concern about their treatment. They are being treated vastly better than they treated anyone else." Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, counters this by saying that the USA "foolishly risks feeding the suspicion that this is second-rate victors' justice. The victims of 11 September  deserve the highest standards of justice".
Global Exchange reports that over 800 civilians have been killed in 11 regions because of faulty local intelligence.
In mid-February it is reported that at least 17 civilians are killed in bombing raids by USA led forces in Helmand province. The Western media hardly report these continuing attacks.
In March, USA military officials admit that two Afghan prisoners captured the previous December had died under interrogation at Bagram air base. The cause of death for the two men is given as "homicide" contradicting earlier reports of death by a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism. The death certificates indicate that one of the victims (known only as Diliwar, aged 22 from the Khost region) died of "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease". The other victim, Mullah Habibullah (aged 30) died from a blood clot in the lung exacerbated by a "blunt force injury".
USA officials have previously admitted using "stress and duress" on prisoners including sleep deprivation, denial of medication for battle injuries, forcing them to stand or kneel for hours on end, subjecting them to loud noises and sudden flashes of light, and engaging in culturally humiliating practices such as having them kicked by female officers. The USA claims that these practices are "humane" while groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have denounced these practices as torture as defined by international treaty.
Human Rights Watch has also criticised the USA practice of handing over subjects to countries such as Jordan, Morocco or Egypt where torture is a normal part of the security aparatus. Legally, it says, there is no difference between using torture and "subcontracting it out". The USA continues to refuse to recognise captives as Prisoners of War subject to protection under the Geneva Convention.
In an address to his nation, the USA president George W Bush, said that Al-Qa'ida suspects would "no longer be a problem to the United States and our friends and allies". The USA continues to refuse to allow its citizens to be subject to the International Criminal Court.
On the same day as the USA invades Iraq, 1000 USA troops supported by helicopters attack a region of the Sami Ghar mountains. Hundreds of homes are searched in several villages in the district of Maruf.
The chief of USA forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General Dan McNeill, accuses the West of failing to rebuild the country as promised before it was attacked. The Prime Minister, Hamid Karzai (supported and protected by the USA), only controls the area around Kabul, the country's capital.
19 prisoners are released without charge from military detention in Guanatanamo Bay in Cuba by the USA without charge or explanation after they had been held as "battlefield detainees" for more than a year.
In Loi Karez, 40 people are killed by USA forces.
Dozens of homes are demolished by the USA backed police chief, Basir Salangi, in Kabul. The homes were in Wazir Akhbar Khan, an area wanted for the development of luxury accommodation. Buldozers flattened 13 mud brick one room houses with the families' possessions still inside. At the same time, all but four of Hamid Karzai's 32 cabinet ministers are given plots of land worth up to $170,000 in the Shir Pur district of the capital.
Ten nomads (including women and children) are killed when their tents are attacked by USA helicopters in Naubahar district. One of the survivors, Haji Lawang, complained that no USA official had been to the site of the bombing: "They had nothing to do with politics. This is a disaster. People said the Americans came here to help us build our country, but they are not. They are killing our people."
Although, little is reported about the country in the Western media, in a two month period between August and September, 300 people are killed, including civilians, aid workers and USA soldiers. Schools for girls are attacked and set on fire.
Amnesty International produces a report about the lives of Afghan women two years after the USA led invasion of the country. The report states that women continue to the victims of forced marriage (often to settle disputes), domestic violence (including honour killings), abduction and rape (often by the groups loyal to the war lords backed by the USA). Prosecutions for violence against women and virtually unknown. Women are routinely detained for adultery or asserting their rights.
The report accuses the USA and UK of using the "war on terror" to abuse human rights. Draconian laws had been introduced by the two countries after the terrorist attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001. New laws allow torture, detention without trial and truncated justice.
The USA and UK are accused of double standards: attacking Iraq for "possessing weapons of mass destruction" while at the same time selling deadly weapons to regimes that abuse human rights.
The USA is accused of selecting "which bits of its international obligations under international law it will use, and when it will use them". Its detention of more than 600 prisoners of war in its military base in Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) "support[s] a world where arbitrary unchallengeable detentions become acceptable". It calls for the prisoners to either be charged and tried or to be released. The USA refuses even to name most of the prisoners in detention. 13 foreign nationals are being held without charge by the UK.
The report warns that post-war Iraq could end up like Afghanistan where human rights abuses are officially sanctioned: "Afghanistan does not present a record of which the international community can be proud". The report highlights two prisoners at Bagram air base who died under USA interrogation. Amnesty International has been denied access to Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. According to Amnesty "Bagram stands as an indictment of the USA and all other countries which refuse to condemn its existence".
The report also accuses Israel of committing war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Palestinians of crimes against humanity by targeting civilians in suicide bombings.
In late June a report appears in the UK newspaper, The Independent, in which the USA and UK are accused of using torture on suspected terrorists and holding them without the due processes of law.
Detainees are kept standing for hours in black hoods or spray painted goggles, bound in awkward or painful positions, deprived of sleep with 24 hour bombardment of lights, and beaten. The USA interrogators call these "stress and duress" techniques. Ten USA National Security officials spoke to the the USA newspaper, The Washington Post. One of them was quoted as saying "if you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job".
The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, highlights the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The USA CIA hold his two sons (aged 7 and 9) as a "bargaining tool".
The USA is thought to be holding 15,000 people around the world including those it classifies as Prisoners of War. 680 people are held in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In June, two 70 year old farmers are released without charge after USA authorities admitted they were "caught in the wrong place at the wrong time". During the first few months of their captivity they were kept in small wire mesh cells (less than 2m by 3m) covered by a wooden roof but open at the sides. They were allowed a one minute shower once a week. After going on hunger strike in the fifth month, they were allowed to shower for five minutes and allowed exercise for 10 minutes a week walking around a 10m long cage.
The UK is also treating detainees illegally. The UK has opted out of the section of the European Convention of Human Rights that guarantees everyone a fair trial. This contrasts with European countries (Netherlands, France, Italy) where terrorism suspects are processed through the courts. Amnesty International states that detainees held in the UK are subjected "to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment", even though they have not been charged or even interviewed by police.
The USA announces that two UK citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay are to be tried by a military tribunal without proper legal representation and could face the death penalty. One of the detainees, Moazzam Begg, was arrested by USA forces in Pakistan in 2002 and taken to Bagram air base in Afghanistan without access to consular staff and without any extradition procedures being completed. After several months he was transferred to Cuba, again without any legal extradition processes. The UK fails to make any representation for its citizens. The UK Forign Office minister, Baroness Symonds, states "The fact is I can't alter the legal processes in the USA" even though they are not being held under USA law. Human rights groups state that the detainees should either be charged and tried as criminals or held with Prisoner of War status.
The following table lists the geography and numbers of illegal detentions involving the democratic countries (as at July 2003). Sources include USA Justice Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Red Cross.
|Egypt||Thousands||Many transferred from Afhganistan to Egypt by the USA where the secret police use "full-blown" torture.|
|Jordan||Thousands||Many transferred from Afhganistan to Jordan by the USA where the security services use torture, including sleep deprivation, beating the soles of the feet, and suspension with ropes.|
|Uzbekistan||Thousands||Mainly dissidents and "Islamists". USA has stopped its criticism of the country's human rights record after being allowed to set up military bases there.|
|Iraq||3,087||Prisoners of War and interned civilians held in 19 sites. USA threats to send detainees to Cuba.|
|Afghanistan||3,000 +||In Bagram airbase and Jowzjan prison. Bagram is a USA CIA interrogation centre. Prisoners are tortured by being blindfolded and thrown into walls, kept standing or kneeling for hours, bound, sleep deprivation. No access to the Red Cross or legal representation. 2 detainees have died.|
|Chechnya||1,300||Russia routinely beats and tortures prisoners. Blind eye turned by USA and UK for economic reasons.|
|Israel||900||Palestinians held without charge or trial. Most have no access to lawyers.|
|Cuba||680||Suspects from 40 countries held as "battlefield detainees" even though some not arrested during battles. The USA insists that the Geneva Convention does not apply. Being outside USA legal juristiction, USA law does not apply either. All denied access to legal council. Nationalities include Afghans, Pakistanis, Saudis, Yemenis, Britons, Australians and Algerians.|
|USA||484||The USA government refuses to release the identity of most of the detainees. Human rights groups accuse the USA of violations.|
|China||400||Mainly ethnic Uighurs resisting Chinese control of their Turkic speaking homeland. The USA has labelled them "terrorists".|
|India||300 +||Mostly Muslim and Kashmiri dissidents.|
|Morocco||135||100 "referred" by the USA to a country infamous for the use of torture.|
|Spain||50||Mainly Basques. No access to outsiders; secret trials, up to 4 years pre-trial detention allowed by law.|
|Indonesia||30||Muslims and dissidents. Public interrogations.|
|UK||15||402 arrests. Restricted access to legal representation.|
|Syria||1||Syrian - German transferred to Syria by USA operatives.|
|Diego Garcia||Unknown||USA CIA interrogations of prisoners on UK island.|
|Saudi Arabia||Unknown||USA CIA watch interrogations through one-way mirrors.|
|Georgia||Several||After operation involving USA and UK special forces.|
Amnesty International publishes another report dealing with human rights violations in countries that are Western holiday destinations.
|Jamaica||Police brutality causes the deaths of 133 people in 2002.|
|Morocco||Secret detentions and torture. More than 30 political prisoners.|
|Tunisia||Arbitrary arrests, detentions and forced confessions.|
|Turkey||Islamic and Kurdish activists imprisoned. Torture in police custody. Extra-judicial killings.|
|Egypt||Crackdowns on homosexual men, minority religious groups, political opponents and journalists.|
|Burma||Highly repressive military government holds 1300 political prisoners. Use of slave labour for building tourist infra-structure. Trafficking of women and children.|
|Thailand||Violent crackdown on alleged criminals lead to 2000 deaths in 2003.|
|Maldives||Oposition parties banned and harassed. Arrest without charge. Torture.|
After being promised by the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in 2001 that the West would "not walk away", the country's infrastructure remains shattered, warlords rule vast regions and opium production continues to grow. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, controls only the capital, Kabul.
USA forces, occupying the country, continue to kill uncounted, unreported and unmourned civilians. A report by Human Rights Watch states that USA forces arrest people arbitrarilly, loot homes and torture and kill prisoners. The report states that conditions and practices in the prisons at Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Asadabad violate international law by denying legal protection and access to the prisoners.
The USA uses aid to extract intelligence. The UK newspaper, The Independent (issue 25 May), quotes a USA soldier telling journalists: "It's simple. The more they help us find the bad guys, the more good stuff they get". Teena Roberts, head of the country's Christian Aid mission describes the effects of this policy: "The result of this is aid workers have become targets. I have not come across the use of aid in this way before".
In 2004, child mortality remains at 80% (no change from 2001) while life expectancy has dropped from 46 to 43 during the same period. Pregnancy and childbirth remains the leading cause of death amongst women.
Amanullah Haidar, an ex-soldier says "I remember all these people who came here from Europe and America and told us how they were going to help us. But where are the factories and offices we thought we would get? What about the elections we were promised?"
In 2002, Laura Bush, wife of the USA president, had stated that "the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women". According to Amnesty International reports that in 2004 "the risk of rape and sexual violence by members of armed forces and former combatants is still high. Forced marriages, particularly of girl children, and violence against women in the family are widespread in many areas".
The rare snow leopard and mountain sheep are endangered by Western game hunters paying $ 40,000 to USA companies for the privalage of killing these animals.
The United Nations reveals that opium growing in Afghanistan has increased by 64% in 2004. Most profits are made by the war lords who fought alongside the USA against the Taliban government, which had surpressed the opium trade. The country is ranked by the United Nations as a failed state.
According to RAWA spokeswoman, Neelab Ismat, conditions for women have not improved: "Hospitals for women are terrible, commanders can still force girls into marriage, and there are hardly any jobs for women." The USA-backed president, Hamid Karzai is considered to be "too close to the warlords". The USA president, George W Bush, is described as being "a hypocrite, using the pain of Afghanistan's women for propaganda".
According to the United Nations, the areas of Afghanistan controlled by soldiers from the USA-dominated North Atlantic Treat Organisation (NATO) have seen a large increase in the production of opium.
The increase in opium producing hectares is from 104,000 in 2004 to 131,000 in 2005.
In July air strike by the UK and the USA kill many civilians. In in Nawzad (Helmand Province) at least three 227kg (500-pound) bombs hit a market. An attack in Uruzgan Province also killed many civilians. Around 60 civilians are killed in a USA air attack near Tirin Kot, southern Uruzgan. One villager, Feda Mohammad, told the AFP news agency that "They shot people who were running out of houses under fire from helicopters, on the fields and everywhere."
The USA military admits killing 40 "militants" but these are Afghans killed in their own country by forces from the other side of the world.
UK forces were involved in a long fight in Sangin.
UK forces call in USA planes to drop 500lb bombs on a town in Helmand province. Witnesses tell of many civilian deaths and injuries. At least three bombs were dropped, destroying shops and a newly built school in Nawzad. Most of the town's market of 150 shops was reduced to rubble. Shopkeeper, Haji Ahmad said: "We don't have an accurate number of dead people but there are bodies under the rubble, and there is no-one here to take them out. There are more than 50 killed, not less."
The occupation of Afhganistan continues with bloody resistance to it. This is under-reported in the West. According to BBC correspondant, Roland Buerk: "Afghanistan is going through its bloodiest period of violence since the fall of the Taleban in 2001 and Kunar province has seen much of the fighting".
The BBC website states:
"In recent weeks coalition troops have been pushing northwards into the remote mountains but the Taleban and their al-Qaeda allies have been hitting back. The US led coalition has been hampered by the rugged terrain and the ability of the insurgents to slip across Kunar's border with Pakistan into the tribal areas of the northwest frontier province to regroup, our correspondent says."
13 Afghan civilians (including 9 children) are killed by NATO air stikes. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) is a group of European countries dominated by the USA. The attacks occured in Lashkargar (Helmund Province). A family of 13 were fleeing the fighting when they were attacked by an A-10 Tank Buster aircraft armed with 30mm cannon. The UK newspaper, The Independent quotes a UK soldier's account of what the occupying armies are doing in Afghanistan:
"We are flattening places we have already flattened, but the attacks have kept coming. We have killed them by the dozens, but more keep coming, either locally or from across the border. We have used B1 bombers, Harriers, F16s and Mirage 2000s. We have dropped 500lb, 1,000lb and even 2,000lb bombs. At one point our Apaches [helicopter gunships] ran out of missiles they have fired so many. Almost any movement on the ground gets ambushed. We need an entire battle group to move things. Yet they will not give us the helicopters we have been asking for."
A report by journalist, Stephen Lendman shows the contrasts in Kabul during the USA-led occupation:
"In parts of Kabul an opulent elite has emerged many of whom have grown rich from rampant corruption and drug trafficking,
and the city actually has an upscale shopping area catering to them offering for sale specialty products like expensive Swiss watches and other luxury
goods. They can be found at the Roshan Plaza shopping mall and Kabul City Center plaza that has three floors of heated shops, a cappuccino bar and
the country's first escalator. The rutted streets are locked down and deserted at night, but during the day luxury jeeps and four-wheel drive
limousines are seen on them. There are also upscale hotels including the five-star Serena, built and run by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN),
offering luxury accommodations for visiting dignitaries, Western businessmen and others able to afford what they cost in an otherwise impoverished
city still devastated by years of conflict and destruction. The arriviste class there can, mansions are being built for them, foreign branch banks
are there to service their needs, and an array of other amenities are there to accommodate their extravagant tastes and wishes. In a country where
drug trafficking is the leading industry and corruption is systemic, there's a ready market for those able to afford most anything, even in a place
as unlikely as Afghanistan.
There's also a ready market provided by the array of well-off foreign ex-pats, a well-cared for NGO community (with their own guest houses for their
staff), colonial administrators, commercial developers, mercenaries, fortune-hunters, highly-paid enforcers and assorted other hangers-on looking to
suck out of this exploited country whatever they can while they're able to do it. So far at least, there's nothing stopping them except the threat
of angry and desperate people ready to erupt on any pretext and the growing resistance gaining strength and support from the resurgent Taliban.
There's also no shortage of alcohol in a fundamentalist Muslim country where it's not allowed, high-priced prostitutes are available on demand with
plenty of ready cash around to buy their services, a reported 80 brothels operate in the city, and imported Thai masseuses are at the luxury Mustafa
Hotel where the owner is called a Mr. Fix It, an Internet Cafe is located on the bottom floor offering ethernet and wireless connectivity, and the
restaurant fare ranges from traditional Afghan to steaks, pizza and 'the best burger in all of Kabul'. The impoverished local population would
surely not be amused or pleased comparing their daily plight to the luxury living afforded the elite few able to afford it. Their city is in ruins,
and desperation, neglect, despair and growing anger characterize their daily lives.
This Potemkin facade of opulence doesn't represent what that daily life is like in the city and throughout the country for the vast majority of the
approximate 26 million or so Afghans. For them life is harsh and dangerous, and they show their frustration and impatience in their anger ready to
boil over on any pretext. As in Iraq, there's been little reconstruction providing little relief from the devastation and making what work there is
hard to find and offering little pay."
There's also a ready market provided by the array of well-off foreign ex-pats, a well-cared for NGO community (with their own guest houses for their staff), colonial administrators, commercial developers, mercenaries, fortune-hunters, highly-paid enforcers and assorted other hangers-on looking to suck out of this exploited country whatever they can while they're able to do it. So far at least, there's nothing stopping them except the threat of angry and desperate people ready to erupt on any pretext and the growing resistance gaining strength and support from the resurgent Taliban. There's also no shortage of alcohol in a fundamentalist Muslim country where it's not allowed, high-priced prostitutes are available on demand with plenty of ready cash around to buy their services, a reported 80 brothels operate in the city, and imported Thai masseuses are at the luxury Mustafa Hotel where the owner is called a Mr. Fix It, an Internet Cafe is located on the bottom floor offering ethernet and wireless connectivity, and the restaurant fare ranges from traditional Afghan to steaks, pizza and 'the best burger in all of Kabul'. The impoverished local population would surely not be amused or pleased comparing their daily plight to the luxury living afforded the elite few able to afford it. Their city is in ruins, and desperation, neglect, despair and growing anger characterize their daily lives.
This Potemkin facade of opulence doesn't represent what that daily life is like in the city and throughout the country for the vast majority of the approximate 26 million or so Afghans. For them life is harsh and dangerous, and they show their frustration and impatience in their anger ready to boil over on any pretext. As in Iraq, there's been little reconstruction providing little relief from the devastation and making what work there is hard to find and offering little pay."
The following statistics are for Afghanistan in September 2006:
USA contractors can earn over $1000 per day compared to $5 for local workers.
In Afghanistan (as in Iraq), large open ended, no-bid contracts totalling many thousands of millions of dollars were awarded to about 70 USA companies, including politically connected backers of the USA administration: Bechtel, Fluor, Parsons, Shaw Group, SAIC, CH2M Hill, DynCorp, Blackwater, The Louis Berger Group, The Rendon Group, Halliburton (plus its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root) and many others. Between 2001 and 2006, Halliburton was awarded $20,000 million in war-related contracts. The company exploited these contracts by doing sub-standard work, overruning costs and then submitting exhorbitant bills. Halliburton is building permanent military bases in both Afghanistan and Iraq (one of the rerasons for both invasions).
In contrast, "reconstruction" in Afghanistan has stuttered. In one example, a USA pledge of $17.7 million in 2005 for education in Afghanistan was re-directed to a private profit-making American University of Afghanistan only available to Afghans who could afford its high cost - meaning only a privileged few.
The South African agency Action Aid has documented aid that is "pledged" by the USA and other countries that never arrives (so-called phantom aid). Usually around 60% of this "aid" never leaves the home country. It pays for overpriced "consultants" who provide little in return. Recipient countries are obliged to buy USA products and services even when cheaper alternatives are available locally. Much "aid" is spent on USA-made weapons. The report accuses the USA to be one of the two greatest serial offender countries (the other is France) and states that 86% of all the USA aid pledges turn out to be phantom aid. According to Stephen Lendman:
"In Afghanistan, aid pledges to rebuild are a scam to enrich politically-connected USA corporations by developing new export markets for them. Iraq, Afghanistan and other recipient countries get nothing more than the right to have their nations, resources, and people exploited by predatory USA corporations as one of the spoils of war or one-way trade agreements."
In Nangarhar, 16 Afghans are killed after USA soldiers begin firing on them after a suicide bomb attack. Afghans injured in the shooting told the Associated Press news agency that USA soldiers had shot at pedestrians and passing cars indiscriminately along a five-kilometre stretch of one of eastern Afghanistan's busiest roads.
Tur Gul, a 38 yearl old man shot twice as he stood by the roadside stated: "They were firing everywhere, and they even opened fire on 14 to 15 vehicles passing on the highway. They opened fire on everybody, the ones inside the vehicles and the ones on foot.".
One man told Al Jazeera that five members of his family were killed in the shooting: "American bullets murdered my family ... it's tyranny and injustice." Mohammad Khan Katawazi, the district chief of Shinwar, said the Americans had treated every person and car along the road as a potential attacker.
Abdul Nangahar, a police chief, told news reporters: "When local people came to the scene, the soldiers just opened fire on the crowd. People got killed and wounded."
Local people demonstrated showting "Death to America! Death to Karzai!"
Journalists from Associated Press had their images of a vehicle with dead bodies deleted by USA soldiers.
A NATO air raid in Kapisa (northern Afghanistan) kills nine civilians including two children. NATO is a group of mainly European countries led by the USA.
At the end of May, USA forces bomb the village of Shindand, killing 57 people, half of them women and children. Mohammad Zarif Achakzai, who escaped, told the BBC: "The bombardments were going on day and night. Those who tried to get out somewhere safe were being bombed. They didn't care if it was women, children or old men." Baryaly Noorzai stated that USA forces arrived and entered houses in a culturally insensitive way, angering the local people: "When the Americans came the people started fighting them back, and then the planes came and started bombing us. Even under the Russians we haven't witnessed bombardments like it before."
Over 100 people, including many civilians, are killed by NATO air strikes over a weekend in July. The story is ignored in the UK because of a failed terrorist attack that hurt nobody apart from the attackers.
In the village of Watapour, NATO air strikes killed 25 people who were burying ten people killed by an earlier air strike. The ten included nine members of a single family. In Uruzgan, USA forces killed 33 people.
Phillip Gordon (a Fellow from the Brookings Institute which looks at USA foreign policy) told the Asia Times newspaper: "If you talk privately to the generals, they are very worried. Far from bringing about the intended softening up of the opposition, bombing tends to rally people behind their leaders and cause them to dig in against outsiders who, whatever the justification, are destroying their homeland."
In the UK the story is only covered on the inside pages of some newspapers with the USA being replaced by the word "coalition".
KryssTal Opinion: 47 USA citizens killed by an Afhgan suicide bomber would be front page news with the names and personalities of the victims being given extensive coverage.
A USA bombing raid on the village of Azizabad (Herat province) kills over 90 people, 60 of them children. According to the BBC website: "Video footage, apparently of the aftermath of the raid, showed some 40 dead bodies lined up under sheets and blankets inside a mosque. The majority of the dead captured on the video were children, babies and toddlers, some burned so badly they were barely recognisable."
None of this video is shown on USA or UK television.
White phosphorus, burns to the bone if it touches human flesh.
BBC journalist, Ian Pannell, also reported the UK soldiers use villages as cover. Often the USA and UK blame "the Taliban" (Afghans resisting the occupation of their country) for using civilians as cover when people are killed by their indiscriminate bombing.
In May air stikes in three villages (Gerani, Gangabad and Koujaha) in the Bala Baluk district of Farah province kill nearly 120 people, including 26 women and 61 children.
The USA backed president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was in the USA for a meeting. He thanked USA foreign secretary, Hillary Clinton for "showing concern and regret" and said he hoped the two sides would work together completely to reduce civilian casualties in the "struggle against terrorism".
Riots against the USA and the Afhgan government break out. USA Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, claims that the Taliban killed people with grenades because they did not pay an opium tax. This is unsupported by any eyewitnesses and is disproved by photographs of deep bomb craters, one of which is filled with water.
According to the UK newspaper, The Independent:
"Pictures of the aftermath of the attack show people standing beside the remains of a relative which often only looks
like a muddy pile of torn meat. One elderly white bearded man, said by neighbours to have lost 30 members of his family, squats despairingly beside
a body that has been torn into shreds. Among the few wounded to stay alive is a child with a badly burned face.
One reason why US bombing inflicts such heavy civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq is that both are very poor countries in which houses are
very crowded. When the US used air strikes and heavy artillery with little restraint in the siege of Fallujah in 2004 it caused serious loss of
life. Wedding parties in both countries have often been mistaken for "terrorist" gatherings and bombed."
One reason why US bombing inflicts such heavy civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq is that both are very poor countries in which houses are very crowded. When the US used air strikes and heavy artillery with little restraint in the siege of Fallujah in 2004 it caused serious loss of life. Wedding parties in both countries have often been mistaken for "terrorist" gatherings and bombed."
Nader Nadery, a commissioner for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission found evidence that white phosphorus had been used in the air raid. Use of this chemical against civilians is a war crime.
What journalists in the USA and UK fail to question is the right of the USA to accuse, try and execute people in Afghanistan for the crime of hijacking fuel tankers bound for their country's occupying forces.
At the same time elections in the country are shown to be fraudulent leading to questions in the UK concerning the number of UK soldiers being killed in a support of a government that is seen to be corrupt. Female parliamentarian Malalai Joya:
"We Afghans know that this election will change nothing and it is only part of a show of democracy put on by, and for, the West, to legitimise its future puppet in Afghanistan. It seems we are doomed to see the continuation of this failed, mafia-like, corrupt government for another term."
"Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women's rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves."
Malalai Joya had earlier been suspended from the parliament for speaking out against the presence of former warlords in the government and for opposing a law brought in by the puppet Afghan "president", Hamid Karzai, that would allow husbands to rape their wives. This new law was condemned by Human Rights Watch:
"Karzai has made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in return for the support of fundamentalists."
KryssTal Opinion: Do we remember how the wives of USA President, George Bush, and UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, supported the invasion of Afghanistan because it would help liberate women from the harsh Islamic rule of the Taliban?
Five more people are killed in a similar incident a few days later.
The BBC reported that a NATO (translation: USA) air strike killed seven policemen in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province.
Another USA airstrike (again reported by the BBC as a NATO airstrike) in Uruzgan province kills 27 people in a convoy of three cars. The dead included women and children according to troops on the ground. The governor of the province confirmed that all the victims were civilians.
In April (over the Easter period when people are less likely to watch television news or read newspapers) the USA admits that its troops killed a number of female civilians in February and then removed the bullets from the bodies to cover up USA involvement. The deaths occurred during a night-time raid on a home near Gardez. One of the women killed was a pregnant mother of ten and another was a pregnant mother of six. Two other civilians, a district prosecutor and local police chief, were also killed during the raid when they came out of the house to investigate.
Initially the USA had said that the women had been stabbed to death before the USA attack but a NATO spokesman, Brigadier General Eric Tremblay, later admitted that "international forces" (translation, "the USA") had killed the women.
52 civilians are killed by a USA helicopter attack in the village of Regey on Helmand province. The BBC described the misile attack as by "international forces" without mentioning the USA.
Mohammed Khan, 16, said helicopters had circled over the village before the incident. He said that he had warned other children to take cover. But his mother told him not to worry them. He went further away and was shielded by a wall that saved his life when the attack started. "I heard the sound of the rocket land on our house. I rushed in screaming with my father and saw bodies lying in the dust. I found I was even standing on a dead body." One of the bodies was his brother.
The occupying forces initially denied they caused the deaths but then accepted responsibility.
Thousands of documents are leaked which show a picture of the wat in Afghanistan different to media reports.
Human Rights Watch writes "These files bring to light what's been a consistent trend by US and Nato forces: the concealment of civilian casualties. Despite numerous tactical directives ordering transparent investigations when civilians are killed, there have been incidents I've investigated in recent months where this is still not happening.
A correspondant from press TV described the scene: "When we arrived here, people were weeping for their loved ones killed in the raids. They were still collecting body parts for burial as many bodies were completely destroyed."
In the same week the USA calls for sanctions against Libya for attacking people with heavy weapons.
Also in the Kunar region, twelve boys under 12 who had been collecting firewood, were killed by NATO air strikes. The BBC covered the story for a few seconds by saying that the NATO commander, General David Petraeus, had apologised for the deaths of twelve "people".
In Nawzad district, a NATO (that is USA) airstrike kills 14 women and children in late May. Some of the eight children killed were as young as 2 years old.