Afghans “Thanking Bradley Manning”

Author: by Kathy Kelly
Date of Source: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Afghan Peace Volunteers Thanking Bradley Manning

Afghan Peace Volunteers Thanking Bradley Manning

A few evenings ago, as the sky began to darken here in Kabul, Afghanistan, a small group of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APVs),gathered for an informal presentation about WikiLeaks, its chief editor Julian Assange, and its most prominent contributor, Bradley Manning. Basir Bita, a regular visitor to the APV household, began the evening’s discussion noting that June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Manning’s fourth year in prison.  Two days later his trial will begin, a trial which could sadly result in his imprisonment for a life sentence. June 1st also begins an international week of support and solidarity, aimed at thanking Bradley Manning [1].

Basir believes that the vast majority of Afghans are among myriads world-wide who have Manning to thank for information they will need in struggles for freedom, security, and peace. He wishes that more people would find the courage to stand up to military and government forces, especially their own, and act as “whistle-blowers.”

I often hear Afghan individuals and groups express longing for a far more democratic process than is allowed them in a country dominated by warlords, the U.S./NATO militaries, and their commanders.  In the U.S., a lack of crucial information increasingly threatens democratic processes. How can people make informed choices if their leaders deliberately withhold crucial information from them?  Manning’s disclosures have brought desperately needed light to the U.S. and to countries around the world, including struggling countries like Afghanistan.

Hakim, who mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers, recalled that Bradley Manning passed on documents that record 91,730 “Significant Actions,” or “SIGACTS” undertaken here by the U.S. /ISAF forces, of which 75,000 were released by WikiLeaks.

These SIGACTS include attacks by drones, sometimes invisible drones, and night raids. Continue reading

Between the US bombs and Taliban fighters: The Children Under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

October 18, 2012

Infanticide as Policy?

by DAVE LINDORFF, Counterpunch

Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.

The other three children were not so lucky. They were killed Sunday in an aerial attack by a US aircraft in the the Nawa district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, not so far from Pakistan. The attack, described by the military as a “precision strike,” was reportedly aimed at several Taliban fighters who were allegedly planting an IED in the road, but the strike also killed three children, Borjan, 12; Sardar Wali, 10; and Khan Bibi, 8, all from one family, who were right nearby collecting dung for fuel.

Initially, as is its standard MO, the US denied that any children had been killed and insisted that the aircraft had targeted three “Taliban” fighters, and had successfully killed them. Only later, as evidence grew indesputable that the three children had also been killed, the US switched to its standard fallback position for atrocities in the Afghanistan War and its other wars: it announced that it was “investigating” the incident and said that it “regretted” any civilian deaths.

There are several questions that arise immediately from this second story. First of  all, if the three kids were close enough to be killed by this “precision” attack, they were surely also close enough to have been visible to whatever surveillance craft was monitoring the activities of the Taliban fighters, and if they were seen, there should have been no air strike called in. Second, the US, allegedly trying to reduce civilian casualties, is supposedly now operating its air attacks under rules of engagement that only allow strikes where there is “imminent danger” to US or allied forces. How is planting an IED an “imminent” danger? If the location is known, troops in the area can be alerted, and the IED removed or detonated. An identified IED is not an imminent threat. Continue reading

Afghan Army: “Please Tolerate the US Soldier’s ‘Cultural Insensitivities’ — ‘No Offense’ intended”

October 04, 2012
Turning the Tables in Afghanistan — The Humiliation of Can-Do American Boys
by WILLIAM BLUM

In Afghanistan, the US military has tried training sessions, embedded cultural advisers, recommended reading lists, and even a video game designed to school American troops in local custom. But 11 years into the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their military partners. Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan counterparts. While some insider attacks have been attributed to Taliban infiltrators, military officials say the majority stem from personal disputes and misunderstandings.

So the Afghan army is trying something new, most likely with American input: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge. The pamphlet they’ve produced includes the following advice:

“Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you.”

“When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”

“When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.” (Pointing the soles of one’s shoes at someone is considered a grievous insult in Afghanistan.)

The guide also warns Afghan soldiers that Western troops might wink at them or inquire about their female relatives or expose their private parts while showering — all inappropriate actions by Afghan standards.

Early in 2012, a video showed US soldiers urinating on dead Taliban fighters

Demonstrators show copies of the Koran allegedly set alight by US soldiers serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan, during a protest at the gate of Bagram airbase on Feb. 21, 2012. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Hmmm. I wonder if the manual advises telling Afghan soldiers that urinating on dead Afghan bodies, cutting off fingers, and burning the Koran are all nothing more than good ol’ Yankee customs, meaning no offense of course.

And does it point out that no Afghan should be insulted by being tortured in an American military prison since the same is done at home to American prisoners.

Most importantly, the Afghan people must be made to understand that bombing them, invading them, and occupying them for 11 years are all for their own good. It’s called “freedom and democracy”.

I almost feel sorry for the American military in Afghanistan. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, habituated to thinking of themselves as the best, expecting the world to share that sentiment, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing media experts, psychologists, even anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, used to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell. Continue reading

Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Protest, Throw Their Medals at NATO Summit!

May 20, 2012 CHICAGO (Reuters) – Nearly 50 U.S. military veterans at an anti-NATO rally in Chicago threw their service medals into the street on Sunday, an action they said symbolized their rejection of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan: “On the Kandahar Massacre”

Intensifying and expanding the resistance until the total and unconditional expulsion of the occupiers and the defeat of the puppet regime is the only principled method of confronting the war crimes of the occupying forces

American imperialist occupiers once again butchered children, women, and elderly men in Afghanistan. A group of American occupying soldiers and officers attacked the poor huts of villagers and slaughtered seventeen children, women, and old men––wounding several others and burning twelve bodies––in the Panjawai district of Kandahar on midnight of the 11th of March. The leadership of the occupying forces depicted this unforgivable crime as the result of mental illness of one of their soldiers, offered a mere empty token of apology, and declared the usual: that they would lead an investigation into this matter.

Definitely this war crime, like the other war crimes of the occupiers, is something that does not emanate from the personal mental problems of one or more of the occupying soldiers or officers; it is the result of the overall nature and characteristic of such forces. It should be noted that the imperialist occupation, and the imposition of a puppet regime over the peoples of an occupied country, is itself a great imperialist war crime. Therefore, a just response to the war crimes of the imperialist occupiers and their satraps, is not to legally prosecute the officers and soldiers responsible for these crimes, to take personal revenge against them as individuals, or the unjust efforts of freeing some prisoners, but the further intensification and expansion of resistance, until the total expulsion of the occupiers from the country and the destruction of their puppet regime.

Hamid Karzai the head of the puppet regime, while he is constantly telling the participants and supporters of this regime that soon a “long-term strategic agreement” would be signed with America (an agreement that actually has no other meaning other than prolonging the condition of occupation), has declared the crimes of the occupiers in Panjawai to be a deliberate and obvious act of terrorism and has demanded the trial of the perpetrators. However, it is clear that according to the previous agreements between the American occupation and its puppet regime, and specifically between George W. Bush and Hamid Karzai, that every American soldier and officer in Afghanistan has legal sanctity; they only can be put on trial in the US, according to the constitution of that country. Hamid Karzai while he is carrying “Shah Shojaian Sword” of national treason, at the same time is showing his servitude in empty and meaningless “nationalistic” gestures towards his imperialist masters in order to “prove” his political competency in their court.   Continue reading

Afghan diaspora in solidarity with victims of Kandahar massacre

Sjpjc Logo

RALLY FOR SLAIN AFGHANS

Saturday March 17th, 2PM
Fremont Amtrak Station at Fremont Blvd.
better lifeVigil planned in Fremont’s ‘Little Kabul’ for slain Afghan civilians

By Rob Dennis

The Argus

Local Afghans are organizing a rally and candlelight vigil Saturday for the 16 civilians, including nine children, shot dead by a U.S. soldier over the weekend in southern Kandahar Province.

Military officials say an Army staff sergeant slipped off a U.S. base before dawn Sunday, stormed into homes in two villages and opened fire. Some of the corpses were burned. Five other people were wounded.
“This is the third major event that’s occurred in Afghanistan recently, with dead bodies being urinated on, the Quran-burning and now this,” said one of the vigil’s organizers, Farhad Bajawory, 26, of Union City. “The apologies that come have no value to us anymore.”
The soldier, who has not been identified, has been flown out of Afghanistan and is awaiting charges. The rally will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Amtrak and Altamont Commuter Express station at 37260 Fremont Blvd., in the Centerville neighborhood nicknamed “Little Kabul” for its large number of Afghan residents and businesses.

Organizers are inviting people of all backgrounds to attend the rally; they are asking them to wear all-black clothing and bring posters, signs and U.S. and Afghan flags, along with small candles for the vigil. The location of the vigil will be announced at the event. They also plan to have everyone sign a banner that reads, “RIP 9 children, 4 men and 3 women, 16 innocent civilians,” which they will send to the White House.

Nearly 600 people on Facebook so far have signed up to attend the event. Bajawory said the organizers, all Tri-City area residents, felt compelled to respond in some way to the latest atrocity in their homeland.

“We all have cousins and uncles that are still out there,” Bajawory said. “We still feel a deep connection to them, even though many of us who will be there this Saturday were actually born here.”

Justice for Afghan victims “… as if it were our own citizens”

by Paul Woodward, writing in War in Context, on March 13, 2012

“The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered,” President Obama said today, referring to the 16 Afghan citizens who were apparently killed by a single American soldier before dawn on Sunday morning. “We’re heartbroken over the loss of innocent life.”

Yet more than two days after the shooting, the Pentagon has still not named the suspect.

Contrast this with the 2011 Tuscon shooting in which six people died and Jared Lee Loughner’s name and photo were being published by every mainstream media outlet within hours.

The unnamed soldier responsible for Sunday’s massacre will likely become the only American soldier whose name the people of Afghanistan never forget.

As much as the White House and the Pentagon work to present this turn of events as an aberration, it will for most Afghans and much of the world come to symbolize America’s involvement in a country few Americans knew anything about before 9/11 and just as few care much about now.

Once this soldier’s name is eventually made public it seems likely that whatever motivated him to go on a brutal yet systematic rampage, his actions will be portrayed as the product of the singular workings of his own mind or damaged brain. The Pentagon will present this as the story of soldier X — not the closing chapter in an ill-conceived war. Continue reading