Weekly Update into Afghanistan Situation – April 15, 2010

Tariq Jeeroburkhan

-It is most important to reiterate from the beginning that the armed opposition in Afghanistan to the foreign invasion and occupation of the country is comprised of only 10% Taliban forces. The vast majority of opposition to the foreign occupiers in Afghanistan, roughly 90%, is comprised of Afghani civilians, both rural and urban, who have seen 8 years of NATO occupation as being the deadliest threat to everyday life for Afghanis.

-Two weeks ago we reported that the Afghani government announced it would NOT accept the transfer of prisoners from Guantanomo prison to Bagram Military Base in Afghanistan. This, despite being Obama’s only evident plan for closing Guantanomo, was a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty, especially because there was no consultation with Afghanis, therefore unacceptable.

This week allegations have emerged about the violations of the Geneva Convention that have occurred at Bagram since Obama has taken office and contradict all claims of the Obama administration that it seeks to put an end to the Abu Ghraib-style torture that is becoming the American legacy in the eyes of the Global International Community.

A BBC report released on April 14 reveals that at least 9 eye witnesses have provided information describing the specific details of the systematic torture employed at Bagram by military personnel against Afghani detainees held for questioning, with or without charges being laid.

The BBC report, released by Hilary Andersson, based in Bagram, details sleep and sensory depravation in addition to physical abuses such as in one case, a witness had his bottom teeth knocked out by a soldier’s rifle butt. The prison expanded its hold from 650 to 800 prisoners in September 2009, but to date not one of those men and women who have been incarcerated have been able to see a lawyer or to have any sort of legal representation. There are internally staged-hearings that are put on by something called the “Detainee Review Board” but in these cases the prisoners are represented by soldiers, and are not even afforded access to lawyers in this sham process.

-The incident that occurred in Pakita province on the morning of February 12, 2010 where NATO forces killed 3 women, two pregnant and one in her teens, and 2 Afghani government employees has spurned debate about NATO values more then just implicating the officers and soldiers involved in the attempted cover-up.

The story was uncovered by the London Times and not only exposed the NATO killings of Afghani civilians, but also how NATO had knowingly lied to cover up its actions. Original investigations by the London Times “suggest(ed) that NATO’s claims (were) either willfully false or, at best, misleading.”

“US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of (the) botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened”

Although the families of the victims were offered 2000$ US dollars for each of the victims by the Afghani government, a family member said “There’s no value on human life. They killed our family, then they came and brought us money. Money won’t bring our family back.”

The practice of paying-off the families of the innocent civilians that are killed by foreign forces is one of the foreign policies that has come under scrutiny in the aftermath of the botched NATO cover-up on the 12th of February.

It works differently from the previous NATO pay-off fiasco that involved foreign soldiers making direct cash payments to members of the Taliban in return for Taliban promises not to attack those foreign soldiers. That practice, condemned by NATO supervisors only after it was exposed to the public, had been used by several NATO members.

The current practice is to pay off the families of victims and is something that has led all Afghanis to question the very moral and ethical foundations of the occupiers themselves. According to the Associated Press, the death of a child or adult is worth 1500-2500$ US, the loss of a limb or other injuries is worth 600-1500$ US, a damaged or destroyed vehicle is worth 500-2500$US (the value of a car is the same as a human being) and damage to a farmer’s field is worth 50-250$. The dehumanization of life into a dollar flow chart leads Afghanis to question where is NATO’s priority of protecting the lives of the civilians.

It also must be noted that it is always left to Afghani government representatives to visit the families of innocent victims, offer their condolences and make these cash payments.

What the citizens of Afghanistan have determined from this practice is that NATO and other foreign entities are putting a price on the head of Afghani civilians, civilians who have no interest what so ever in the money, but simply want an end to their family members being killed. Awareness of this NATO practice throughout Afghanistan combined with incidents that continue to occur everyday involving the deaths of more civilians at the guns of foreign forces have actually forced Afghani civilians to turn to the Taliban to protect them and their families from NATO assaults. This is the exact opposite result of what the entire NATO premise for foreign occupation was intended.

-A recent NATO operation entitled “Operation Moshtarak” puts this entirely in perspective. NATO sent 15 000 soldiers into an area suspected of being home to 1500 Taliban, and after NATO actions which killed a larger number of innocent civilians then “insurgents” NATO labeled this operation a “success”. It would seem that the NATO definition of success is very different and unacceptable to the Afghani people if it means that more innocent civilians are going to be killed. This is why after eight years of NATO occupation its credibility with the Afghani people has been shot.


Canada and the Torture of Afghani Detainees – April 15, 2010

-The O’Conner Report issued September 18, 2006 and the Iacobucci Inquiry findings, released in October 2008 clearly indicated that Canadian security forces were at least indirectly responsible for the spread of misinformation that led to the torture of Canadian citizens overseas. Four years later the Canadian government has still done nothing to address the transgressions of its security forces and their treatment of Canadian citizens.

-So, we have known for four years that Canada was involved in the torture of its own citizens abroad and this government has done nothing about it. Given that Canadians already have access to that information, why does this government continue to deny that its soldiers and security forces were and still are involved in the torture of Afghani citizens?

Knowingly handing over detainees to abuse is an offence considered a War Crime by the Geneva Conventions and as such Canada stands. Anything less then a full public inquiry into the Canadian treatment of its Afghani detainees is unpatriotic because the reputation of the entire country is at stake.

-Two government bodies have determined that Canada was involved in the torture of its own citizens. This clearly indicates the culture of the Canadian security services and their morality. Why would Canadian security services be involved in the torture of their own citizens, as determined by two official goverment studies, yet not transfer this same culture and morality to their treatment of Afghanis? Are Canadians expected to believe that its security forces treat Afghani citizens with more respect then Canadian citizens? Afghani civilians, especially the dead ones, don’t believe that.

All indications are that the Canadian security forces have learned nothing from the shut-down of the Canadian Airborne regiment after its members tortured Somali teenagers to death in 1993. What’s worse is that this Canadian government is aware of the problem but instead of addressing it is directing all of its efforts and resources into covering it up.

-On Wednesday at the Military Commission that has been set up in Ottawa to look into the allegations of Canada’s involvement in the torture of Afghani detainees, there were some revealing allegations as to how deep Canada’s hands-on involvement in torture actually goes.

A translator, hired by Canadian forces, who had personally translated over 40 transfer documents issued by Canadian forces, testified that Canadian soldiers shot an unarmed Afghani, 17 years old, in the back of the head. After the incident occurred, the Canadian soldiers responsible for the murder “panicked’ and made prisoners of all the potential witnesses in order to cover-up the killing. This meant rounding up at least 10 innocent villagers, including a 10-year old child and a 90-year old man.

Amahdshah Malgarai further testified that all the members of the Canadian forces from top to bottom on the chain of command knew that transfer of prisoners meant transfer to torture and that members of the Canadian forces actually laughed and joked about what they were doing.

Mr.Malgarai’s testimony fully corroborates previous testimony heard by the Commission, must notably from Richard Colvin, which asserts that Canadian forces were fully aware that transferring prisoners to Afghani Security meant imminent torture and further, that the transfer process was intentionally conducted so as to “subcontract torture” and keep Canadian hands clean.

The new and additional testimony provided by Mr.Malgarai that Canadian soldiers actually shot a 17-year old in the back of the head indicates that it is possible that Canadian soldiers are guilty of War Crimes and it is this reality that is leading the Canadian Government to use every resource and tactic in the book to cover-up the cover-ups.

One of the members of the Military Commission, MP Laurie Hawn, actually went so far during yesterday’s testimony to demand that Mr.Malgarai’s comments be stricken from the official record in the name of “National Security”. The MP, whose conduct, comments and concerns have fully discredited him within and without this fact-finding inquiry, had to be reminded by the chair of the committee, that the testimony was being broadcast on television through the CPAC channel and was therefore not able to be “stricken from the record”.



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Filed under afghanistan, Canadian Politics, Human Rights, International Politics, Media Coverage, Political Accountability

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