-As Canadian Parliment returned from two months of prorogation – the issue to be discussed is how pressing the demand from the opposition parties into an official inquiry about the treatment of Afghani detainees by Canadian forces shall be.
We hope that the Conservative gov’t trick of shutting down parliment to mute discussion on issues surrounding the treatment by Canadians of Afghani detainees will not have succeeded. The first thing that the Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff announced was that he will be demanding an inquiry into the legality of the prorogation process, and lost in the shuffle of the throne speech and the budget appears to be the Afghani detainee issue. If this truely is the case, then the shuting down of Canadian parliment obtained its objective and will be an option for future canadian governments to resort to. Canadians should take note.
-Once more, charity and relief organizations are voicing their opinions of how linking relief efforts with the military occupation is destroying the credability of those relief efforts within Afghanistan. This time it is the london-based organization “Save the Children” that is pointing out the inheirent lack of credability that is created when relief efforts are embedded within military structures. We first realized this with the so-called “Provincial Reconstruction Teams” (PRTs) in Iraq and the lesson still has not been learned for implementation in Afghanistan. Even more disturbing is to see the repeat of the same mistakes that have led to failures throughout other american-led occupations. The recent American decision to provide weaponary to various Afghani Militias threatens to make the life of Afghani civilians even more dangerous, just as every single gun or bomb in the country already does. The recent American strategy is literally only adding more “fuel to the fire”. The idea is that these militias will use the US-provided weapons to fight the Taliban. NewsFlash!: that was the same logic and thinking that armed the Taliban in the first place to fight the Russians. Those are the same weapons that the taliban are using today against the occupying forces.
-The Frontline Club, based in London, which calls itself a “Champion of independant journalism”, held a panel discussion and press conference on Wednesday that involved journalists, UK military officials and the Afghan ambassador to the UK; all agreed that the full story of Afghanistan is not reaching the public. Journalist Stephen Grey summarized the mood of the discussion as well as the challenges of reporting about Afghanistan:
“As journalists we’re being put in a very uncomfortable position because we are central to the strategy. We have essentially become combatants in this. If we start reporting challenges to this message that people are trying to put out, we are automatically part of the enemy.”
The founder of the Frontline Club, Vaughn Smith, had this insight:
“Afghanistan is a large PR operation. There’s an attempt to manage the news. It would be better addressed if we had more press out there and it was better approached.”
Afghan ambassador to the UK, Homayoun Tandar, responded that it was the British perception of Afghanistan that had created this biased coverage and that Afghanistan is a dynamic culture that is rarely properly portrayed in the Western media:
“Your vision on Afghanistan is an expired vision… You’re in Helmand, that’s all. One in 34 provinces. Afghanistan is more than Helmand.”
-Also in store for Afghani civilians over the next several weeks will be the seasonal flooding that will make their lives even more challanging. Not one word of this annual obstacle to life in Afghanistan in the meanstream press here reporting on how much we like to think we are helping Afghani citizens.
-As the UN leaves Afghanistan, Kai Eide, special rep for the Secrerary general made it very clear at his last press conference in Kabul before UN departure, that if the US and their lackies like Canada do not get their act together this year and realize that their actions are causing more harm then good for the Afghani people, then the foriegn occupiers will find that they have reached a point of no return in the country.
-Basically the UN is leaving Afghanistan not because the challange of supporting the Afghani people is too difficult, but because the challenge of massaging the ego of the dying US super-power and its allies like Canada is not in the mandate of united nations. The situation of aiding the Afghani people is made complicated by these foriegn occupying forces who want to maintain a control over the Afghani people that has never been established, nor will it ever be.