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MSF launches petition for Afghanistan attack investigation – Please sign and share !

Need your help ! MSF launches petition for Afghanistan attack investigation – Please sign and share !


Dear members, dear MSFer,
Please, add your voice and ask you networks, colleagues, friends and families to 
sign the MSF petition !

This is to urge the USA and Obama to consent to the ‪#‎independetinvestigation‬ into the bombing of our trauma 
center in ‪#‎kunduz‬, now that the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission has been activated! 
Because even war has rules and international humanitarian laws need to be respected !

Read the press release related to this petition. 

We need as much signatures as possible, together we can make a difference ! Thank you ! 

More info on the Kunduz events

Associative Brussels 
Médecins Sans Frontières 
Office: +32 2 474 74 09 

Dirty Wars

see this post from DN

dm : Bowe Bergdahl as “Chess Piece to Win Political Matches”






Remembering British MP Tony Benn, a Lifelong Critic of War and Capitalism



Tony Benn, the former British Cabinet minister, longtime Parliament member and antiwar activist, has died at the age of 88. He was the longest-serving member of Parliament in the history of Britain’s Labour Party, serving more than half a century. He left Parliament in 2001, saying he planned to “spend more time on politics.” In 2009 he appeared on Democracy Now! to talk about the war in Afghanistan and Britain’s fight for a nationalized healthcare system. “You’ve got to judge a country by whether its needs are met and not just by whether some people make a profit,” Benn said. “I’ve never met Mr. Dow Jones, and I’m sure he works very, very hard with his averages — we get them every hour — but I don’t think the happiness of a nation is decided by the share values in Wall Street.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We wrap up now with this latest news that just came in hours ago, and this is the death of Tony Benn. Today we remember Tony Benn. The former British Cabinet minister, longtime member of Parliament, antiwar activist has died at the age of 88, the longest-serving member of Parliament in the history of Britain’s Labour Party, serving more than half a century. He left Parliament in 2001, saying he planned to “spend more time on politics.”

Sharif Abdel Kouddous and I interviewed Tony Benn in 2009, one day after he led a protest against the war in Afghanistan in London. At the rally, Benn and others read the names of British soldiers and Afghan civilians who died in the war. I began by asking Tony Benn about the protest and Afghanistan.

TONY BENN: Well, it was a solemn occasion, and the names were read.

But, you see, I think you have to understand the history of this. Britain invaded Afghanistan in 1839, captured Kabul, and was defeated the following year, and 15,000 British troops were killed in the retreat. Britain invaded Afghanistan in 1879. Britain was in Afghanistan in 1919. The Russians were in Afghanistan. I led a delegation to the Russian ambassador in London to protest that. The United States government, President Bush, the first one, funded Osama bin Laden to fight the Russians to get them out of Afghanistan.

And the situation we’re in now is very straightforward. The United States and NATO, 40 countries with 64,000 troops, in eight years have been unable to defeat the Taliban. And this is a Vietnam War for America and for the rest of the—well, for the people involved, soldiers and civilians on both sides, it’s an absolute tragedy.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And Obama defended the war yesterday, calling it “a war of necessity.” Your response to that?

TONY BENN: Well, I think you just have to ask yourself the question: Is it a war on terror, or is it a war on Afghanistan? It’s a war on Afghanistan. And to call it a war on terror just entitles you to do what you like. And I don’t think it’s going to succeed.

The other thing I have in mind is very simple. A few years ago, London was bombed by terrorists. And how did it end—from northern Ireland. How did it end? It ended when we talked to Gerry Adams, who was the IRA leader in prison. Nelson Mandela was denounced as a terrorist by Mrs. Thatcher, and peace came in South Africa when the South African government talked to Mandela, and he came out and became president. I mean, history tells you, and Churchill put it very clearly: Jaw-jaw, talking, is better than war-war. And there will have to be negotiations with al-Qaeda and Taliban to secure the end of this conflict. Of that, I have no doubt whatsoever.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Tony Benn, we also wanted to talk to you about the issue of healthcare.

AMY GOODMAN: Tony Benn, you’re a former Cabinet minister, longest-serving MP in the history of the British Labour Party. Explain your system in Britain and what the battle looks like to you across the Atlantic in the United States.

TONY BENN: Well, I mean, for me—and I love, know America. I’m married to an American, known America for 70 years. It’s amazing. I think most people in Britain just regard it as being uncivilized for a great, rich country to ignore the health of 47 million people. And I don’t say that as an insult; we just don’t understand it.

It was set up in Britain in 1948, 61 years ago. And I have with me the statement made by the government at the time. “Your new National Health Service begins on the 5th of July. […] How do you get it?

“It will provide you with all medical, dental, and nursing care. Everyone—rich or poor, man, woman or child—can use it or any part of it. There are no charges, except for a few special items. There are no insurance qualifications. But it is not a ‘charity’. You are all paying for it, […] as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in time of illness.”

And, I mean, my family has benefited enormously. I had an operation a few days ago in London. I’ve got a pacemaker put in under the Health Service. My wife died of cancer and for four years had the most brilliant healthcare.

And I suppose one way of looking at it is this: There’s a lot unemployment in the United States, as there is in Britain, and one way of creating jobs would be to build hospitals, recruit nurses, train doctors, and then meet the health needs of the country, as well.

I just don’t understand what’s being said. Well, I do understand, because I know the people who are saying it. But it’s absolutely no relation to the Health Service in Britain or the needs of the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, any thoughts on the comparison of the debate you’re seeing today with what happened before the British—the National Health Service was ushered in in Britain? Are you seeing an echo of it?

TONY BENN: Yes, in a way. I mean, some of the doctors were opposed to it, but they all came around. Some of the consultants said, “We don’t want to be civil servants.” But they’re not civil servants. You had a little bit of it.

But I’ll tell you what really changed it, and it takes you back to the 1930s. We had mass unemployment, as you did in the United States. And I was a pilot in the Royal Air Force in the war, and we were discussing on a troop ship coming home once how we would deal with the problems of unemployment. And one lad got up, and he said something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “In the 1930s we had mass unemployment, but we don’t have unemployment when we’re killing Germans.” He said, “If you can have full employment by killing Germans, why can’t you have full employment by building hospitals, building schools, recruiting teachers, recruiting nurses, recruiting doctors?” And that’s how we got it.

We took the view that a government had a responsibility to focus on the needs of a nation in peacetime in the way in which it does in wartime. And if that principle is followed, then all the ideological language can be set aside. You’ve got to judge a country by whether its needs are met, and not just by whether some people make a profit. I’ve never met Mr. Dow Jones, and I’m sure he works very, very hard with his averages—we get them every hour—but I don’t think the happiness of a nation is decided by the share values in Wall Street.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Tony Benn appearing on Democracy Now! in 2009. He has died at the age of 88.

The ‘Afghanization’ of Syria: A Fallacy

In 2011 Assad gave an interview to a Western journalist in which he made the following statement:

Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake … Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?

Since then there has been a growing narrative which not only blames the West for the instability that we see in Afghanistan today, but which equates Western support for Syrian rebels, especially the Free Syrian Army under General Salim Idriss, as akin to the support given to the Afghan mujahideen during the eighties.

This is wrong. Those who draw comparisons between Afghanistan and Syria in order to discourage foreign intervention in the latter are either ignorant or conveniently ignore a very important fact – it was the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979 which caused the disintegration of the Afghan state today, and it is the Russian (along with Iranian) support of Assad today that is leading to the disintegration of Syria.
Lessons from History

Most people today look at Afghanistan as some formless mess. Somehow the arming of the mujahideen during the eighties led to the formation of al Qaeda and then we had 9/11 and after that the world went crazy. There is nothing factually wrong with that narrative, and states, like people, do make mistakes, however, it is conveniently missing one crucial element – what were the Soviets doing in Afghanistan in the first place?

In 1979 the Soviets overthrew the then ruler of Afghanistan, Hafizullah Amin, for fears that he might have been moving the country away from the Soviet orbit. Amin had previously deposed his opponent, Nur Mohammad Taraki, who had been staunchly pro-Soviet but whose policies were causing widespread unrest and rebellion in the country. Though they were both members of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, the country’s main Marxist opposition before the toppling of Muhammad Daoud Khan’s government in 1978, the Soviets did not think Amin was reliable enough. On October 31st 1979 the Soviet Union launched a series of coordinated attacks, landing their troops in Kabul, to ouster and eventually kill Amin.

A government under a former Afghan diplomat to Czechoslovakia, Babrak Karmal, was formed, but he could not control the country and came to rely on the Soviet troop presence almost entirely owing to the desertion of large parts of the Afghan army. Although the mutinying Afghan military units were quickly crushed owing to Soviet airpower and ground troops, resistance continued in the country against this occupation. By the start of the eighties the Soviet Union was controlling the urban parts of Afghanistan but could not control the countryside.

In order to subdue the population, a deliberate Soviet strategy was pursued to utterly decimate villages and rural areas that were outside their control. Afghans that did not flee were killed by Soviet aerial attacks, ground assaults, and bombardments of these civilian areas. In total it is estimated that about 1.5 million Afghans died during this conflict.

When the West, as well as China and Muslim countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, provided support to the loosely organized mujahideen, it was in reaction to this ongoing national trauma that the Afghans were enduring.

Anybody who reads about the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and its aftermath will quickly note parallels with Russia’s involvement in Syria today. There are even stark similarities to the way Assad’s army is dealing with the Syrian revolution. This is hardly surprising owing to the fact that Syria’s army, like that of most Middle Eastern potentates, relies heavily on Soviet and Russian military tactics and training, as well as weapons.In Syria today large swathes of the country that are outside the regime’s control are rendered uninhabitable and indiscriminate attacks on civilian centres have resulted not only in massive casualties but an enormous refugee problem.

Continued Russian assistance and diplomatic cover for Assad’s brutalization of the Syrian people, and with the direct support of Iran and the Shiite militia Hezbullah, parallels with the Soviet Union’s meddling in Afghan affairs over three decades ago.
Granted, the instability in Afghanistan resulted in the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda, but it is disingenuous to suggest that the West created these monsters to defeat Communism and then forgot about them. Arguably, the real mistake of the West in Afghanistan was not that stinger missiles were given to the Afghan mujahideen, but that the mujahideen were left alone to pick up the pieces of the Soviet invasion of their country. They were abandoned, and when the ferocious Taliban arose to take over the country in 1992 they strung up the country’s president, Muhammad Najibullah, from a lamp post. Ironically Najibullah had himself been a member of the PDPA and would later become the head of the Afghan equivalent of the secret police.  His death marked the final nail in the coffin for the Soviet Union’s adventure in Afghanistan, but the final dismemberment of the Afghan mujahideen that had fought the Soviet Union’s occupation happened on the eve of 9/11, when the Taliban assassinated the charismatic Ahmed Shah Masoud.

Shah Masoud was an engineering graduate from Kabul university who rose to prominence fighting against the Soviet Union and who rejected the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam. People today ignorantly equate the mujahideen who fought the Soviets with the Taliban, ignoring the fact that the remnants of the mujahideen were themselves targeted by the Taliban and eventually destroyed. If anything, we can see in Masoud’s death a severance with an Afghanistan that was a normal country, and its final descent into the madness we now see it in.

Rather than helping the mujahideen that had fought the Soviet Union to a standstill to consolidate and help in maintaining the cohesion of the country, the West left them to their own devices. The abandonment of Afghanistan by the West following the Soviet withdrawal also created the vacuum that allowed the “Afghan Arabs” to coagulate into al Qaeda, and from here the rest of the story is known.

The death of Ahmed Shah Masoud is highly symbolic because it marked the  severance of Afghanistan from its “normal” past, a time when the country had functioning universities and government structures. We have not reached that point yet in Syria, but if Assad is allowed to continue his scorched earth policy, a policy inspired directly by the Soviet treatment of Afghanistan, then that link will be broken. Eventually Syria will run out of university graduates and defected professional soldiers willing to lead its rebellion, and we will reach a stage where we have angry religious men who cannot read continuing to fight for reasons they can no longer remember.
It was the Soviet Union which bore the ultimate responsibility for meddling in Afghan affairs, and for creating the conditions that allowed the Taliban to rise to power. Today Russia is doing the exact same thing when it meddles with Syria by aiding its dictator in crushing a popular rebellion and brutalizing the Syrian people.

Assad is responsible for the worst humanitarian crisis since the Cold War and he cannot be allowed to continue destroying the country with Russian and Iranian assistance. It is inconceivable that a regime like his be allowed to continue ruling the country for fear of an “Afghan alternative” when the reality is that aiding the Free Syrian Army will actually lead to the exact opposite. If we are going to make comparisons with Afghanistan, then we should at least do so for the right reasons, and with a clear understanding of history. To do otherwise will condemn us to repeat it.


Tales in a Kabul Restaurant

May 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment

by Kathy Kelly

Afghan children

Twelve children killed in the Kunar province, April 2013 (Photo credit: Namatullah Karyab for The New York Times)

May 21, 2013 – Kabul–Since 2009, Voices for Creative Nonviolence has maintained a grim record we call the “The Afghan Atrocities Update” which gives the dates, locations, numbers and names of Afghan civilians killed by NATO forces.  Even with details culled from news reports, these data can’t help but merge into one large statistic, something about terrible pain that’s worth caring about but that is happening very far away.

It’s one thing to chronicle sparse details about these U.S. led NATO attacks. It’s quite another to sit across from Afghan men as they try, having broken down in tears, to regain sufficient composure to finish telling us their stories.  Last night, at a restaurant in Kabul, I and two friends from the Afghan Peace Volunteers met with five Pashtun men from Afghanistan’s northern and eastern provinces. The men had agreed to tell us about their experiences living in areas affected by regular drone attacks, aerial bombings and night raids.  Each of them noted that they also fear Taliban threats and attacks. “What can we do,” they asked, “when both sides are targeting us?”


Jamaludeen, an emergency medical responder from Jalalabad, is a large man, with a serious yet kindly demeanor. He began our conversation by saying that he simply doesn’t understand how one human being can inflict so much harm on another. Last winter, NATO forces fired on his cousin, Rafiqullah, age 30, who was studying to be a pediatrics specialist.

“A suicide bomber had apparently blown himself up near the airport.  My cousin and two other men were riding in a car on a road leading to the airport.  It was 6:15 AM.  When they’d realized that NATO helicopters and tanks were firing missiles, they had left their car and huddled on the roadside, but they were easily seen. A missile exploded near them, seriously wounding Rafiqullah and another passenger, while killing their driver, Hayatullah.”

Hayatullah, our friend told us, was an older man, about 45 years old, who left behind a wife, two boys and one daughter.

Although badly wounded, Rafiqullah and his fellow passenger could still speak. A U.S. tank arrived and they began pleading with the NATO soldiers to take them to the hospital.  “I am a doctor,” said Rafiqullah’s fellow passenger, a medical student named Siraj Ahmad.  “Please save me!”  But the soldiers handcuffed the two wounded young men and awaited a decision about what to do next.  Rafiqullah died there, by the side of the road. Still handcuffed, Siraj Ahmad was taken, not to a hospital, but to the airport, perhaps to await evacuation. That was where he died.   He was aged 35 and had four daughters. Rafiqullah, aged 30, leaves three small girls behind.

And Jamaludeen knows that those girls, in one sense are lucky.  Four years ago, he tried to bring first aid as an early responder to a wedding party attacked by NATO forces.  Only he couldn’t, because there were no survivors. 54 people were killed, all of them (except for the bridegroom) women and children.  “It was like hell,” said Dr. Jamaludeen.  “I saw little shoes, covered with blood, along with pieces of clothing and musical instruments.  It was very, very terrible to me. The NATO soldiers knew these people were not a threat.”


Kocji, who makes a living doing manual laborer, is from a village of 400 families.  His story took place three weeks ago.  It started with a telephoned warning that Taliban forces had entered the Surkh Rod district of Jalalabad, which is where his village is located.  That day, at about 10:00 p.m., NATO forces entered his village en masse.  Some soldiers landed on rooftops and slid expertly to the ground on rope ladders.  When they entered homes, they would lock women and children in one room while they beat the men, shouting questions as the women and children screamed to be released.  On this raid, no one was killed, and no one was taken away.  It turned out that NATO troops had acted on a false report and discovered their error quickly.   False reports are a constant risk. – In any village some families will feud with each other, and NATO troops can be brought into those feuds, unwittingly and very easily, and sometimes with deadly consequences. Kocji objects to NATO forces ordering attacks without first asking more questions and trying to find out whether or not the report is valid.  He’d been warned of a threat from one direction, but the threats actually come from all sides.


Rizwad, a student from the Pech district of the Kunar province, spoke next.

Twenty-five days ago, between 3 and 4 a.m., twelve children were collecting firewood in the mountains not far from his village.  The children were between 7 and 8 years old.  Rizwad actually saw the fighter plane flying overhead towards the mountains.  When it reached them, it fired on the twelve children, leaving no survivors.  Rizwad’s 8 year old cousin, Nasrullah, a schoolboy in the third grade, was among the dead that morning.

The twelve children belonged to eight families from the same village.  When the villagers found the bloodied and dismembered bodies of their children, they gathered together to demand from the provincial government some reason as to why NATO forces had killed them.  “It was a mistake,” they were told.

“It is impossible for the people to talk with the U.S. military,” says Rizwad.  “Our own government tries to calm us down by saying they will look into the matter.”


Riazullah from Chapria Marnu spoke next.   Fifteen days previously, three famers in Riazullah’s area had been working to irrigate their wheat field.  It was early afternoon, about 3:30 p.m.  One of the men was only eighteen – he had been married for five months.  The other two farmers were in their mid-forties.  Their names were Shams Ulrahman, Khadeem and Miragah, and Miragah’s two little daughters were with them.

Eleven NATO tanks arrived.  One tank fired missiles which killed the three men and the two little girls. “What can we do?” asked Riazullah.  “We are caught between the Taliban and the internationals. Our local government does not help us.”


The world doesn’t seem to ask many questions about Afghan civilians whose lives are cut short by NATO or Taliban forces. Genuinely concerned U.S. friends say they can’t really make sense of our list – news stories merge into one large abstraction, into statistics, into “collateral damage,” in a way that comparable (if much smaller and less frequent) attacks on U.S. civilians do not.   People here in Afghanistan naturally don’t see themselves as a statistic; they wonder why the NATO soldiers treat civilians as battlefield foes at the slightest hint of opposition or danger; why the U.S. soldiers and drones kill unarmed suspects on anonymous tips when people around the world know suspects deserve safety and a trial, innocent until proven guilty.

“All of us keep asking why the internationals kill us,” said Jamaludeen.  “One reason seems to be that they don’t differentiate between people.  The soldiers fear any bearded Afghan who wears a turban and traditional clothes. But why would they kill children?  It seems they have a mission.  They are told to go and get the Taliban.  When they go out in their planes and their tanks and their helicopters, they need to be killing, and then they can report that they have completed their mission.”

These are the stories being told here.  NATO and its constituent nations may have other accounts to give of themselves, but they aren’t telling them very convincingly, or well.  The stories told by bomb blasts or by shouting home-invading soldiers drown out other competing sentiments and seem to represent all that the U.S./NATO occupiers ever came here to say.  We who live in countries that support NATO, that tolerate this occupation, bear responsibility to hear the tales told by Afghans who are trapped by our war of choice.  These tales are part of our history now, and this history isn’t popular in Afghanistan. It doesn’t play well when the U.S. and NATO forces state that we came here because of terrorism, because of a toll in lost civilian lives already exceeded in Afghanistan during just the first three months of a decade-long war – that we came in pious concern over precious stories that should not be cut short.

– Kathy Kelly, (, co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence  She is living in Kabul for the month of May as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (

source : PULSE

Afghanistan veterans commit suicide from a good conscience



How can a veteran of war in Afghanistan help us understand good conscience?

Dr. Hakim interviews Nao Rozi

Nao Rozi: I was an Afghan soldier for 2 years and had combat roles.

Hakim: What did you learn from your experience?

Nao Rozi: If I think about the root issues, philosophy since the time of Plato has tried to bring the minds of the public under government control. Sometimes, I thought that soldiers and wars were necessary but when I joined the military as a soldier, I saw the injuring and killing of soldiers and opponents like the Taliban. I thought, “Is my presence necessary? Is it correct to have a weapon?” I held a weapon before people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me… We weren’t enemies because we didn’t even know one another. Even before greetings, we were supposed to kill one another.

I concluded that I should leave the army and after that, I had a crisis.

I had almost changed 180 degrees. I was affected by the war.

I tried committing suicide a few times. I felt alone.

Hakim: Some people who hear your story may think your mind was weak; you wanted to commit suicide…

Nao Rozi: Veterans who commit suicide are not cowardly…they are victims of the war.

Life becomes meaningless. It becomes difficult. You think you’ve done something such that you feel you no longer have the right to live.

Those US veterans who committed suicide had a conscience.

Hakim: What message do you have for friends and for the world?

Nao Rozi: Teacher, how I wish that every human in the world would…just for once, sit down alone and ask, “What are we here for?”

How have we been deceived? How true to self have we been?

I was brought up under the ‘government system’ and things I heard from society and the media. I was captive to these. Now, I am free!

Afternote by Dr. Hakim

I believe the medical community has made a mistake in considering war-related post-traumatic stress a disorder.

War related post-traumatic stress is a natural order, not a disorder.

I speak as a general medical practitioner, not as a psychiatrist. But more importantly, I speak as a human being whose thinking about war trauma transformed in the few minutes that I was interviewing Faiz Ahmad a few years ago, and then recently in interviewing Nao Rozi, an Afghan National Army veteran.

Anyone who witnesses gruesome violence and death would feel nauseous and repulsed, and these reactions are a natural order of human preservation, not a disorder.

War-related post-traumatic stress prompts us to avoid the blood and gore of mutual killing. Collecting and hearing all the stories of war veterans should prompt us to seriously abolish wars. Albert Einstein had said, “War cannot be humanized, only abolished. War is a terrible thing, and must be abolished at all costs. “

Nao Rozi had painted for me a morbid scene that poets and writers have consistently described in different ways over the centuries, “There were so many dead young bodies, and all of them were strangers to me. I thought, ‘Why did we do this to one another? Who benefited from these deaths? Weren’t their mothers waiting for them at home?’ ”

These questions changed the course of his life.

While making sense out of what he had experienced, he had tried to kill himself a few times.

Today, there is an on-going suicide epidemic among U.S. soldiers and veterans.

A portion of the Guardian article which touched on this suicide epidemic among U.S. soldiers is worth reproducing here.

Libby Busbee is pretty sure that her son William never sat through or read Shakespeare’s Macbeth, even though he behaved as though he had. Soon after he got back from his final tour of Afghanistan, he began rubbing his hands over and over and constantly rinsing them under the tap. “Mom, it won’t wash off,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” she replied.

“The blood. It won’t come off.”

On 20 March 2012, the soldier’s striving for self-cleanliness came to a sudden end. That night he locked himself in his car and, with his mother and two sisters screaming just a few feet away and with Swat officers encircling the vehicle, he shot himself in the head.

At the age of 23, William Busbee had joined a gruesome statistic. In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone.

Tomas Young, an Iraq veteran who has decided to end his life, wrote a letter to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney stating “My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.”

In the words of Erica Modugno, author of a pledge some veterans are making to dying Tomas Young:

“We see you. We hear you. We will not remain passive. We will not be silent.

Farewell, Tomas, and thank you.”

I’m sad that some of us may still conclude that Nao Rozi, William Busbee and Tomas Young were ‘wimpy soldiers’, not brave enough to unflinchingly continue doing their jobs.

Rather, their post-traumatic stress was a natural order seeking to preserve their good conscience, a kind order that can help us find a better world.


Dr. Teck Young Wee, a Singaporean medical doctor, has been involved in health and development work in Afghanistan since 2004. The name he uses, Hakim, was given to him by Afghans he served in refugee camps. In the Dari language, “Hakim” means “local healer.” He now lives and works in Kabul establishing small social enterprise and is a friend-mentor of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. (



Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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amyg   Premiering this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the new documentary “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield” follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill to Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen as he chases down the hidden truths behind America’s expanding covert wars. We’re joined by Scahill and the film’s director, Rick Rowley, an independent journalist with Big Noise Films. “We’re looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush,” says Scahill, author of the bestseller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army” and a forthcoming book named after his film. “One of the things that humbles both of us is that when you arrive in a village in Afghanistan and knock on someone’s door, you’re the first American they’ve seen since the Americans that kicked that door in and killed half their family,” Rowley says. “We promised them that we would do everything we could to make their stories be heard in the U.S. … Finally we’re able to keep those promises.” [includes rush transcript]

Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the documentary film Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, which just premiered here at the Sundance Film Festival. He is national security correspondent for The Nation, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Richard Rowley, director of the documentary film Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, which just premiered here at the Sundance Film Festival. He is an independent journalist with Big Noise Films.

Afghan Screams Aren’t Heard

April 21st, 2012 § Leave a Comment

by Kathy Kelly and Hakim

Two Afghan youth taking refuge together with the Afghan Peace Volunteers

Last weekend, in Kabul, Afghan Peace Volunteer friends huddled in the back room of their simple home. With a digital camera, glimpses and sounds of their experiences were captured, as warfare erupted three blocks away.

The fighting has subdued, but thevideo gives us a glimpse into chronic anxieties among civilians throughout Afghanistan. Later, we learned more: Ghulam awakens suddenly, well after midnight, and begins to pace through a room of sleeping people, screaming.  Ali suddenly tears up, after an evening meal, and leaves the room to sit outside. Staring at the sky and the moon, he finds solace.  Yet another puzzles over what brings people to the point of loaning themselves to possibly kill or be killed, over issues so easily manipulated by politicians.

I asked our friend, Hakim, who mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers, if ordinary Afghans are aware that the U.S. has an estimated 400 or more Forward Operating Bases across Afghanistan and that it is planning to construct what will become the world’s largest U.S. Embassy, in Kabul.  Hakim thinks young people across Kabul are well aware of this. “Do they know,” I asked, “that the U.S. Air Force has hired 60,000 – 70,000 analysts to study information collected through drone surveillance?  The film footage amounts to the equivalent of 58,000 full length feature films. The Rand Corporation says that 100,000 analysts are needed to understand ‘patterns of life’ in Afghanistan.”

Hakim’s response was quick and cutting: “Ghulam would ask the analysts a question they can’t answer with their drone surveillance, a question that has much to do with their business, ‘terror’: “You mean, you don’t understand why I screamed?”

Two days ago, “Democracy Now” interviewed Hakim about on-going U.S. military occupation in Afghanistan. “If we don’t address the agreements that the U.S. and Australian governments and other governments are making for a long-term war strategy in Afghanistan,” Hakim observed, “we are heading for an increase in violence in this part of the world, in South Asia, perhaps perpetual war, more serious than the Kabul attacks.”

Analysts could better understand patterns of life in Afghanistan by mixing with Afghans in their homes and along their streets, unarmed.

The analysts would spend less tax-payer money but possibly obtain a genuine perspective on everyday life in Afghanistan. If they interacted with Afghan people instead of surveying them from the air, they’d be better equipped to study ‘terrorism,’ their supposed intent.

What if U.S. analysts could feel the frustration Afghans feel as convoys of trucks bearing fuel and food for U.S. soldiers drive past squalid refugee camps where children have starved and frozen to death (250 die of starvation every day; 40 froze to death since January, 2012 ).

Hakim again: “They would understand quickly, even through cursory study by one ‘non-analyst,’ that Afghans are just as infuriated by U.S. soldiers urinating on corpses as U.S citizens are by their own police pepper-spraying college students.

They would understand that just as U.S. citizens can’t even imagine living under the barrel of the Mexican army, Afghan citizens, including of course those labelled ‘insurgents’, dislike foreign guns. No number of Special Ops forces staying on perpetually beyond 2014 can make Afghans like foreign guns. This is what the U.S. Afghan Strategic Partnership War Agreement will do with at least 4 billion U.S. tax payer dollars a year spent just on Afghan security forces.”

16 year old Ali understands that the agreement being readied for the NATO summit won’t accomplish foreign troop withdrawal. This creates what for some is deadly distrust. Ali knows that a long-term foreign military means that the firing and killing will continue.  “It’s tit-for-tat,” says Hakim, “U.S. soldier-for-Talib, dollars-for-rupees, and all those insensible human decisions that occasionally make Ali cry.  But, the military and militant apparatus does not have human ears. It has bombs. So, when the recent Kabul attacks were going on, as seen in the very human moments in the video clip, the Afghan youth crouching in the refuge of a room were assured and delighted to hear from Voices activists, from across the miles, calling to ask how they were.

‘Ah! Someone cares. Someone listens.’

The monthly Global Days of Listening conversations which the youth have had with ordinary U.S., European, Middle Eastern and Australian citizens have helped change their lives person-to-person, overcoming the cold impersonal ‘shoosh’ of overhead rockets and under-running bloodshed.

Every day, Ghulam studies, cooks, washes the dishes and lives, very normally. But some nights, in the stupor of nightmares, Ghulam shouts subconsciously, out of ear-range to the million-dollar intelligence spies, ‘What kind of world is this that still insists on signing war agreements?’


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