Showing posts with label Afghanistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Afghanistan. Show all posts

May 31, 2022

Quotes By and About Women in Afghanistan Under the Taliban 20 Years Ago

It's sad, extremely sad to see what is happening to women in Afghanistan. Nothing has changed in the Taliban's strategies and views on women. They remain the same people as they were 20 or 30 years ago. Today I stumbled upon state.gov archive and found quotes by women and about women 20 years ago. These quotes took me to 1990s, the decade that resembled like today, nothing has changed in the Taliban's outlook. For the original, please visit here

Report on the Taliban's War Against Women
BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR
November 17, 2001
Report

They made me invisible, shrouded and non-being
A shadow, no existence, made silent and unseeing
Denied of freedom, confined to my cage
Tell me how to handle my anger and my rage?
-- Zieba Shorish-Shamley, from  "Look into my World"  published on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Taliban in Their Own Words
"It's like having a flower, or a rose. You water it and keep it at home for yourself, to look at it and smell it. It [a woman] is not supposed to be taken out of the house to be smelled."
-- Syed Ghaisuddin, Taliban Minister of Education, when asked why women needed to be confined at home

"If we are to ask Afghan women, their problems have been solved."
-- Qudratullah Jamal, Taliban Minister of Culture

"We have enough problems with the education of men, and in those affairs no one asks us about that."
-- Qari Mullah Din Muhammad Hanif, Taliban Minister of Higher Education

"If a woman wants to work away from her home and with men, then that is not allowed by our religion and our culture. If we force them to do this they may want to commit suicide."
-- Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, Taliban Minister of Justice

"We do not have any immediate plans to give jobs to (women) who have been laid off.  But they can find themselves jobs enjoying their free lives."
-- Moulvi Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel, Taliban Minister of Foreign Affairs

And in Their People's Words
"Because of the Taliban, Afghanistan has become a jail for women. We haven't got any human rights. We haven't the right to go outside, to go to work, to look after our children."
-- Faranos Nazir, 34-year-old woman in Kabul

"Approximately 80% of women and men agreed that women should be able to move about freely and that the teachings of Islam do not restrict women's human rights." 
-- Physicians for Human Rights, "Women's Health and Human Rights in Afghanistan: A Population-Based Assessment"

"'Indignity is our destination,' says Seema, 30, who used to work at a health center and now roams the streets in Kabul begging to support her children."
-- Time, November 29, 2000

"When we are together, everyone here is talking about how the Taliban has destroyed our lives.  They won't let us go to school because they want us to be illiterate like them."
-- Nasima, 35-year-old Kabul resident

May 13, 2022

Why should we oppose the release of Afghanistan's reserves to the Taliban?

I am personally against the transfer of the former Afghanistan's government reserves ($7 billion) to the Taliban, for two reasons:

1) The Taliban as de factor rulers of Afghanistan are incapable of using the assets and even if they are, they will not use the funds among the population fairly. For the past 8 months, UN humanitarian aid has reached different cities across Afghanistan but most of the Hazara areas have not received them even once. For example, Pashtun families in southern and eastern Afghanistan, such as Jalalabad and Helmand, received 38 to 42 times while in central and northern Afghanistan, people have not receive a single grain of rice. 

2) This fund does not belong to the Taliban and to be honest, most of it comes from foreign donations and it belongs to the former government that supposed to represent all the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban is a terror group, representing the Pashtun tribe mostly, they do not represent all the people of Afghanistan. They do not represent women who half half of Afghanistan's population, they do not represent Tajiks and Uzbeks either. If you look at the Taliban's government, offices are filled with old Pashtun males, no women and no minority groups. 

I am also against the idea that these assets should be dispersed to the 9/11 victims because the perpetrators of 9/11 attacks were Saudis, not Afghanistanis. Giving the assets to the victims of 9/11 is worse than theft.

The funds should be handed over to Afghanistan one day, but not now while the Taliban are in power who terrorize minority ethnic groups. We know that the Taliban will not last long in power, and when there is a new government representing all people of Afghanistan, the funds should be released.

Jan 8, 2022

Afghanistan's embassy response

In response to my previous blog post about the crises at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington DC, I received the following e-mail from the Afghan embassy. For further transparency, I am going to copy and paste it here. The purpose of my previous blog post was to highlight the misery and injustice that the US brought on the people of Afghanistan not only inside but also outside. I have spoken to a few Afghan diplomats, they are struggling to survive as their country is handed over by the United States to a criminal ethno-religio-fascist group, the Taliban. Anyway, the following email is indicating that I got a few facts wrong. This post is for that purpose.  

Embassy Admin *******@afghanembassy.us

Dear Fekrat,

We are writing to inform you that the information contained in your blog post published today, supposedly provided by our diplomats, are false. In this regard, we would like to clarify the following.

1.      We are not told by the Department of States not to talk with the media. And our Bank accounts are frozen by Citibank, not the Department of States. We in fact are talking to the State to get our Bank accounts released through them.

2.      The rent for the house that Ambassador Raz is living in is not $12,000. Following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, we negotiated with the landlord and signed a new contract for $4,200 monthly from November 2021 to June 2022. Furthermore, no one at the embassy has received money from any entity. Our new year message published on 30 December on our website and social media accounts clarify that we are continuing to provide our services in the absence of funding from any source.

We have documents to support the above and should the documents remain confident, we could share them with you. We hope that you will revise your post and reflect our comments.

With regards,
--


EMBASSY OF AFGHANISTAN, WASHINGTON, D.C.

+1 202-483-6410 Ext 1033AFGHANEMBASSY.US

This message is intended only for the named recipient. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.

Jan 3, 2022

Afghanistan's Diplomatic Mission Under Pressure from U.S. State Department

Afghanistan's flag flutters outside the Afghanistan embassy in Washington, DC. (Photo Source)
The collapse of Afghanistan's government was a catastrophic event for all Afghans, but for perhaps no one more so than for staff of Afghanistan’s diplomatic missions in the United States whose employees are not only distressed financially but also oppressed politically. For months now, Afghan diplomats and staff have not received their salaries and recently, the U.S. State Department has pressured them to limit their diplomatic activities and asked them not to speak to the media.

After the sudden fall of Kabul to the Taliban on August 15, the US decided to freeze nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank. In addition, it froze all accounts belonging to the Afghan government, including those belonging to Afghanistan's diplomatic missions, its embassy in Washington D.C. and consulates in New York and Los Angeles.

The Afghanistan embassy recently shut its consulate and resumed its services through the embassy in DC because it lacked sufficient funds to pay the rent and utilities, according to an embassy employee who asked to remain anonymous. Dozens of diplomats have not received their salaries, local staff at all Afghan diplomatic missions are laid off. The embassy and its consulates in New York City and Los Angeles remain for now, though employees are not mandated to show up for work. 

Afghan consulates are still trying to offer a range of services to Afghan citizens, such as passport renewal, issuing birth and marriage certificates, and document validation but with their account frozen, it cannot cash money orders. The embassy has recently started asking its customers to pay fees for these services in cash, but the amount they collect each week doesn’t cover the the inutility bills. 

Worse, the U.S. State Department has recently begun demanding the Afghan embassy limit its diplomatic activities, since Afghanistan is now under the control of the Taliban. Afghan diplomats have also been asked to abstain from speaking about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan or complaining about their frozen bank accounts. The anonymous diplomat told me that when asked, the State Department has repeatedly said they are in talks with the US treasury and the Department of Justice to release some funds, but so far, the embassies and consulates have had to try and operate without access to funds or bank accounts.

Adela Raz, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, has also been under pressure from the State Department. According to Afghan diplomats, the State Department has urged her not to criticize the Biden administration, after she told Axios that "President Biden doesn't care about the fate of Afghan women and girls."

Desperation over embassy's account closure and pressure by the State Department has led to internal conflict. The diplomats and staff at the embassy are also at odds with Adela Raz who is still claiming to be leading Afghanistan's diplomatic mission. [This part that claimed Raz received cash gifts from other diplomatic missions is being removed after a cross-check for accuracy.] The staff at the Afghan embassy are preparing a press release to declare that the Afghanistan embassy has not received any cash gifts or donations from any entities.

According to employees, the Afghan embassy in DC and its consulates in New York and Los Angeles may soon close. It is now nearly for months staff have not received their salaries; the embassy has not paid its utility bills since its accounts were frozen in mid-August. Outside the embassy, diplomats struggle to pay their rent, utility bills and even buy winter clothes for their children. Those who lived with their families in government-sponsored housing have been forced to move out because they could not afford paying their rents without government support, and some families with sick members have been unable to afford doctor visits, since they lost their insurance when Kabul fell to the Taliban. I was told by several diplomats they are considering shutting down their diplomatic missions at the end of January if the US government does not unfreeze its employees’ salaries because they cannot afford rent, and some may apply for asylum in the U.S. while others are planning to escape to Canada.

Dec 29, 2021

Afghanistan's women fighting back

One of the convincing and yet stereotype narratives of war on terror in Afghanistan has been linked with liberation of women. Afghan women have always been portrayed as oppressed, helpless, and always in need of help. Since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the only group who has dared to take the streets in protest against the Taliban's violence and oppression are Afghanistan's women.  Here is a clip I saw on Twitter today. You can google or go on twitter to find more about these courageous ladies who stand up against gun-wielding Taliban. 


This video was sent me today and I download, I can't remember where but it is also circulated on twitter

Dec 28, 2021

the illusion of homeland

I was talking to a forlorn friend of mine the other day who talked sadly about her country, a place she called home. I totally understood her feelings. Years ago, I was in the same situation as she is now. But the reality is that there is no such thing as a "home" or "homeland" but an illusion. This illusion is being made by the political demarcation of the modern world created by European nationalism in the last two hundred years. In every way, they sewed clothes for their communities to monopolize the culture, language and, most importantly, the people.

Until the early twentieth century, there were barely a few demarcated boundaries as a nation or country in the Middle East and Asia and many of the borders that exist today. I write this to say that we humans have always been and will always be immigrants. Our ancestors traveled from Africa, went to Asia, the Middle East and some went to Europe. For whatever reason, we will be migrants or refugees today and tomorrow, either because of wars and conflicts, or because of the lack of resources resulted from the global climate change which is created by the industrial countries that are responsible for the refugee crisis as a result.

Obviously, this feeling is personal and I'm also speaking to my fellow Hazaras. We have been driven out of our lands several times in the past 200 years. We have been driven out of low lands (like Kandahar and Helmand) to high lands (Hazarajat). I see Afghanistan as just a physical place for us. We take the rest of our belongings with us wherever we go. Afghanistan will be a difficult place for Hazaras to live a peaceful life because we have never lived in peace for the past 200 years.

Feb 3, 2021

On US withdrawal from Afghanistan

These are important suggestions that the Biden administration should take into account while ruminating on the nature of a possible withdrawal from Afghanistan. A complete withdrawal is a disaster that should be avoided and in fact, it should be off the table when negotiation over peace with the Taliban. 

The peace negotiation that was ensued by the previous administration based on narcissistic whims should be rethought. The whole negotiation scheme needs to be reassessed because it was a unilaterally designed between the US and the Taliban insurgents. The Afghan government and the people were not involved in this negotiation from the beginning and even now, they don't have much control over it.

The Biden administration should make a revision to the peace scheme and add mandates to commit the Taliban to reduction of violence; otherwise, any dodgy deals not only perpetuates war and violence, but also emboldens the Taliban and other insurgents for further violence. 

Jan 14, 2021

The semantics of racial slurs in Afghanistan

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on my Farsi blog about my experience with racial discrimination and racial prejudice in Afghanistan and today I thought I should start writing a few posts about the semantics of ethnic slurs that Pashtuns, Tajiks, and even Sayyids, who are Shias and look like Hazaras, commonly use against the Hazara people. Here is one of the most popular racial slurs used toward the Hazaras:

"God forbid my dog to be a Hazara" (خدا سگ مره هزاره نکنه  khuda sagi mara hazara nakuna). 

Here are four common features of this racial slur:

1. Dogs are known to be loyal, friendly, and even protective. Hazaras are so disloyal, unfaithful, and unfriendly that they do not deserve to be even like dogs and as such, God has created them a different species other than humans.

2. Dogs in Islam are considered najis (Arabic word), meaning untouchable, and unclean. Hazaras are so vicious, wicked, and dirty that dogs are way kosher and clean that deserved to be kept as friends but not Hazaras. They must be outcast.

3. Dogs are animals and Hazaras are even worse than animals. They have no culture, no religion, no ethics, and they deserved to be annihilated. 

4. Dogs are also considered infidel. This trope is twofold. One that Hazaras are infidels, therefore, they are not Muslim. It has both religious and historical bearings and so it commensurates with the mainstream Sunni doctrine that the Shias are heretics. As a direct result, Hazaras have been subjected to genocide two times in history and almost 100 years apart. One by King Abdul Rahman during 1890s, which resulted to 60% extermination, and most recently by the Taliban between 1998 and 2001. Another meaning of this trope is that infidels (any non-Muslim) in the West keep dogs as friends. In a way it lacks strength but it also brings back the idea of infidelity and the dehumanizing view that the Hazaras are not part of Islam and should be dealt with like non-Muslims because ultimately the purpose is to deprive them from humanity and anything that aids this purpose is useful.

These are the four big and important semantic features of the ethnic slur, "God forbid my dog to be a Hazara," that powerfully pervades in the common sense of Afghan racial discriminatory language and thinking against the Hazara people. And yet, it has a more broader range of invisible but dangerous connotations that is beyond this blog post. I may come back to this later. 

The main purpose of this kind of slur is to dehumanize the Hazaras, to dispossess them from their humanness, and to project or see them as less than oneself. Subsequently, what might follow would be cruelty and suffering through different means with an end result of killing Hazaras mercilessly. Based on dehumanization ideology, when you deprive someone from all human qualities, then it's easy to kill them.

Jan 10, 2021

to speculate about targeted killings

Everyone wonders who is behind all these targeted killings in Afghanistan. No one knows the answer yet. I have been asking my journalist and pundit friends, they have no idea, and if they do, they just regurgitate what government officials have been touting. Basically, the prevalent view among the general public is that the Taliban are be behind all these attacks. The Taliban deny but if we look at the patterns of the attacks, we can see a repetition of the same tactics the Taliban have used in the past. The only difference is that they now go after every prominent figures irrespective of their political affiliation or ideological standing. 

But there are also those who argue that why the Taliban should kill people who pose no threat to them. For instance, in the past few months former journalists, activists, and not very high profile individuals have been targeted whose presence obviously considered innocuous because they were simply not very much active as they used to. Now, we can also speculate that it might be the ISIS group but that still leaves a room for doubt, specially when we consider their sectarian ideology. They generally target Hazaras because they are Shia who are considered heretics from Sunni extremists perspective.

Superficially, I think that behind these latest strings of attacks might be a criminal group but that is anachronistic and one wonder why now. My sense is that there is a parallel ultra criminal religious group forming that is ideologically not far from that of the Taliban or ISIS and it is going after those individuals who are considered liberal and socially influential. Generally these are journalists, writers and pundits. 

Dec 23, 2018

On University Admissions Quota and Open Letter to Obama

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about an open letter that was written by Pashtun intellectuals. A couple of the writers are currently working for Ashraf Ghani administration as advisors and heads of critical government apparatus. The letter was composed in 2010 and was sent to President Obama and many major news outlets in the United States.

Then, a few days ago I wrote a blog post on the discriminatory policy of 25% university admissions quota by Afghan Ministry of Higher Education. After several years, today, I happened to see that letter again which I received from a reader and posted on blogpost.

Later on, I heard from a retired US diplomat who happened to receive it through email listserv from the State Department.

You can get a sense of Pashton paranoia as well as what is happening right now in Kabul; and why Pashtuns around Ashraf Ghani are pushing other minorities aside and creating quota for university admissions.

Here is the link to the letter: https://kabul3.blogspot.com
Please share it with your friends who care about Afghanistan's current affairs.

Note: I blogged about the letter in Farsi. Since I have deleted my Farsi blog, the post longer exists.

Dec 21, 2018

Terrible Scheme: University Admissions Quota in Afghanistan

One of vital achievements of Afghanistan in post-Taliban era is higher education, but it is in jeopardy now. Recently, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education has decided to mandate a quota system for students entering into universities based on their ethnic and regional background. Based on the current quota policy, 25% of university admissions seats in the fields of medicine, engineering, law, economics, Agriculture, and Computer Science will be given to students from the so-called undeveloped areas.

What this means is that students with higher score from populated areas will have lesser chance getting into university; instead, students with lowest score will have reserved seats in universities across the country. 

This is a dangerous scheme and can hurt Afghanistan badly. The hidden agenda is basically to limit the number of students from minority groups from higher education, especially the Hazara students who are in vulnerable position. They come from the poorest areas and they solely rely on public universities which offer free education and scant stipends.  

Quota is designed to tackle higher educational disparities, according to Afghan higher education officials. Pashtun areas, mostly southern Afghanistan, have not been safe and students have not been able to go to school or getting better education. On the other hand, students from minority groups in relatively secure areas have been on the rise. This obviously made the current Afghan administration worry about young Pashtuns who stay behind. Their concern is understandable, but quota system is not the answer. 

Those who composed the quota scheme are obviously disregarding the fact that students with weak learning foundation have a higher chance of drop-out of universities in Afghanistan. This is a known fact and is currently a major issue at Kabul University. Every year, there are hundreds of students who deliberately misuse the Konkour system by using imposters to gain admissions. In the past, oftentimes, officials at schools and higher education centers where the exam was held sold questions to students. 

Afghanistan can do better. The United States and its allies have been a great supporter of education in Afghanistan and they should pressure Afghan government to abandon discriminatory plans, which will hurt young Afghans. 

Nov 22, 2018

Is Rejoicing over the Death of Extremists Okay?

Image from the front page of New York Times
For the past few days, many young Afghans have been rejoicing over the the death of some religious scholars (ulama) who died in a powerful blast in a venue near Kabul international airport. The incident happened in a wedding hall where the celebration of Muhammad's birthday was staged. It is estimated that the blast killed 55 and injured around 100 individuals. I am not sure if these ulama were the same people who gathered a while ago in Kabul to mull over whether the suicide bombing is mentioned or justified in the Qur'an. I wrote a short blog post about it. These religious scholars see themselves as authorities of religious texts and traditions who can have ultimate monopoly over people's beliefs . So far it has never occurred to them to think if one day they might be the target of their extreme and fanatic thoughts as well. As the Biblical phrase goes, as you sow, so shall you reap. This is due to their way of thinking, which is close to that of the Taliban and ISIS. It seems that they couldn't get away from a karma that was dictated by their actions.

Now, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether it is justifiable to rejoice on the death of these religious scholars who might have been wicked people. It is a difficult question which puts us in an ethical dilemma with our core values. I personally don't see these people useful but that doesn't mean they deserve death. They might not be very useful, but it is unfair to assume their presence in the society baleful. They are not physicians to prevent and cure disease, they are not engineers to build roads and buildings; they are rather experts in one thing: how to contaminate the minds of people through Islamic teachings. But still that is neither convincing nor reasonable for us to conclude that it is fine to celebrate the death of a wicked. One thing we can do instead of celebrating their death is to reflect on their actions and responsibilities.

For the past 17 years, every time a suicide attack ripped through a crowd of civilians, killing dozens and leaving hundreds wounded, these religious scholars failed to condemn the attacks. Their silence would meant they are tacitly approving the suicide attacks. Until now, they have been spectators, they may have not felt the pain and suffering of others, but now they should. Though this does not mean we should be happy over their death despite their evil-mindedness. Wishing their demise or rejoicing over their death itself indicates a malevolent nature. Ultimately it shows our weakness and our willingness to submit to bigotry and hatred, which is nothing different from what fanatic Islamists do. But there is a better a way to defeat them and that's not through lowering ourselves to their standard. We can defeat these evil-minded and religious bigots by reasoning and challenging their stone age beliefs and by teaching them modern values.

Sep 15, 2018

Ashraf Ghani Expresses Sympathy for the Taliban's Loss

What else would you expect from Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to be besides the Taliban sympathizer? How can Trump and his administration trust the Afghan leader as a partner in fighting against terrorists in Afghanistan?
These are hard questions to answer, but one thing is clear that the current Afghanistan president is an unwilling partner for fighting against terrorism.

In a recent interview with Vice News, Ashraf Ghani openly expressed his sympathy for the Taliban. He said: "It is not just that my heart breaks for our security forces who are true heroes, but also for Taliban." The answer was to a question related to the Taliban's recent attacks on Ghazni city in southeastern region of Afghanistan, which resulted to the destruction of the city as well as high casualties among civilians and government security forces. 

It is not surprising that Ashraf Ghani openly speaks of his feelings about the terrorists who kill civilians every day, it is shocking when the US government and allies that have troops in Afghanistan do not react.

Aug 16, 2018

Systematic Attacks Against Hazaras in Afghanistan

Yesterday, a suicide bomber entered into a classroom of tow-hundred students in an education center and blew himself up. The attack happened in Dashte Barchi, a predominantly Hazara area in western of Kabul. As a result, 48 people were killed and more than 70 were injured. They were all students aging from ten to eighteen, and they were all from ethnic Hazara.

This kind of attacks have been increasing against the Hazaras. The central government which is run by Ashraf Ghani, an ethnocentric leader, has done nothing to stop violence against the Hazaras, instead, he and his government have shown acceptance and enthusiasm for the Taliban  and ISIS insurgents who commit the atrocities.

Hazaras are left alone, and targets against them are even justified by the Afghan government. This BBC journalist tweet indicates that. An official of the Afghanistan's National Security Council has told him that Hazaras are Iranian spies. This is a dangerous machination to dehumanize the Hazaras and it makes them more vulnerable to systematic targets. Calling Hazaras spies of Iran is a sinister technique of othering and sub-humanization, which has been happening for the past decades. This is a clear green light to the Taliban and ISIS to target the Hazaras more than before. Such statement comes from an Afghan official who is sitting at the national security council, which is being chaired by Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani.

Foreign media organizations have failed to report on the nuances of widespread attacks on innocent Hazaras. They have been simply framing them as attacks against the Afghan civilians, and sometimes highlighted their religious belief. They have not paying attention to ethnic lines as much as it requires. The Taliban and the ISIS targets are the Hazaras, because they are different, they speak Farsi, practice Shi'ism, and they look Asian. These are inherent guilts of a minority called Hazaras whose ancestors have been Buddhists and Shamanists.

Sep 30, 2017

Bahar Jalali: An Educator or a Racist?

Bahar Jalali is a well-educated Afghan-American woman. According to her Linkedin profile, she has received her MA from the University of Chicago and studied her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught at American University of Afghanistan for six years.

I was hoping that those Afghans who grew up in the West have skipped the inherited hatred of the Hazaras, but it turns out that I have been wrong. Here it is an evidence from an American born Afghan woman:

What makes Bahar Jalali, an American born Afghan to harbor such hatred towards the Hazaras who have been persecuted throughout the history? She says that the Hazaras should leave Afghanistan. That is exactly what the Taliban wanted almost two decades ago.

In November 1998, when the Taliban force took over the city of Mazar-e Sharif for the second time, the Taliban/Pashtun governor of Balkh, Mullah Manan Niazi, announced that the Hazaras are infidels and killing them is not a sin. Niazi then gave Hazaras three options: convert to Sunni Islam, leave the country, or die.

It is surprising to read such a racist tweet by an Afghan-American woman regarding the Hazaras who have been oppressed by her people for centuries. She must know better than anyone else what the Hazaras have been through. I can't help but to surmise that she has is a racist and she hates the Hazaras; the same people who have been working hard to rebuild the country. The sons and daughters of the same people whom she hates serve in army and police. In fact, when Jalili worked at American University of Afghanistan, the Hazaras have been protecting her from danger. The Hazaras were security guards at the compound where she held her classes.

I might write another blog post on this, but for now what can be done about it? What would you do to help her learn that she must take responsibility for her actions?
Remember she is an American citizen and she lives and works in the US.

Aug 13, 2016

Candle Lighting: A Symbol of Nonviolence Against Darkness and Injustice

In my earlier blog post, I alluded to candle lighting, but I did not elaborate on it. The candle lighting is important specially at the night of 40th anniversary of those 80 (or more) people who lost their lives and more than 250 wounded on July 23, 2016. In this post, I'm going to call your attention to some of its important aspects of lighting candles. I will explain why it is symbolically significant for Hazaras - and maybe others who sympathize with the cause - to simultaneously light candles in order to commemorate the lost ones' memories, while reemphasizing on their nonviolent movement against unjust and discriminatory policy of the central government.

Symbolically, candle lighting is intrinsic to the quality of life, the very matter that the movement has based upon. It directly relates with the nature of our demands, and with our struggle against an autocratic management, which does not only listen to its citizens, but tacitly allows terrorists to kill our nonviolent protestors.

At the night of 40th anniversary of those who perished in fight for their basic rights, and those who wished to bring changes in their country, let's light candles and remember them and their memories. With lighting candles, let the perpetrators and criminals, and those who blamed the victims understand that they perished our brothers and sisters, but their wishes and wills will not vanish from our hearts and minds and we will stand firm and steadfast in their/our ways and struggles together.

Candle lighting is a powerful tool to fight the evil, the inner heart of the devil that is doomed to darkness. With candle lighting, we all go to war against evil, which Afghan government is a perfect archetype of all malevolences and hostilities against its citizens. It is evil because its policy is against general good, against peace and prosperity; and its evil because it benefits at the cost of its citizens. Let's all stand up against evildoers and devils until they fear us and flea from us. At this point, we can light candles and burn their darken heart in order conquer them.

Let's all rise against injustice, and raise our voice against systematic discriminations, and with such a simply symbolic, yet powerful gesture, we send a powerful message to the evildoers that a sapling that is planted in the garden of our struggle for justice has watered with our blood shall never die.

Aug 9, 2016

Learning From Other Nonviolent Movements

Now, it is clear that we are battling with a government that is facing a crisis of legitimacy, that its leadership has lost its ethical credibility due to persistent lies and deceptions. What the Enlightenment Movement, at this point, can do is to defiantly answer to government's demands and rules by using tools of civil disobedience. It does not have to be feigning illness to go to work, or resigning from a post; although these tactics are important, currently, it is unexpected and unacceptable for any Hazaras to resign from any government job in protest at its discriminatory policy. The Hazaras must stay in their posts in order to remain as a conduit of communication and information between people and government.

Afghanistan has not experienced nonviolent movements before, therefore we have to look at other nonviolent movements in other countries. One of the most recent nonviolent movement took place in Iran in which the pro Green Movement turned their demands and angers against injustice and usurpation of power into a historic grass roots battle against autocratic and repressive regime. One of the tactics that was used by the Green Movement was to scream out 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great) on their rooftops.

Since everyone is equipped with mobile devices and most people in Kabul have access to the internet, this kind of nonviolent protest can be easily organized and implemented. Nonviolent protestors can also light candles on their rooftops for 10 minutes, and simultaneously scream out 'Allahu Akbar' and then followed with some regular slogans such as 'no to discrimination' and 'no to injustice.'

There might be some other effective ways to raise our voice, but to scream out during the night, sometimes before people go to bed, would definitely make headlines, and it would definitely reach the deaf ears of our unresponsive president and CEO. Your voice will reach the palace and will disrupt their sleep, and eventually will create fear in their hearts (if they have any) that epitomize cowardice. 

Aug 7, 2016

What Could you do When Your Government doesn't Listen to You?

At this point, we all know what happened with the nonviolent Enlightenment Movement on July 23rd, 2016. The government is obstinately resistant to hear the movement's demands, not only that, but its security apparatus did not cooperate with peaceful protestors, and in some way, it showed a tacit green light to terrorist to kill the peaceful protesters.

The numbers of casualties have increased, there are now over 90 dead and over 200 individuals fatally injured. Some are in critical condition and need to be flown to another country for better medical operation. 

The movement's leadership has recently announced and warned the Afghan government that if there legitimate demands won't meet in near future, they are going to come back to the streets again. This time their tactics could be different than before, where government's tactic to block the streets with containers will not be enough. 

While coming back to the streets is one of the options to raise our voice against the corrupted and autocratic management of the current Afghan government, there are ways and tactics to initiate in order to mount more pressure on government to listen our demands. What are they, and what can we do to protract our struggle against injustice? Well, there are numerous ways that the Hazara people can do in order increase pressure, to the point that the government can feel the devastation and finally come to the negotiation table. 

It's in fact the longevity of the Enlightenment Movement struggle that can wear down the irresponsive government, not the expedient or shortsighted solutions to the problem. The corrupted and disreputable warlord Mohammad Mohaqiq who shamelessly siding with the government blames Hazaras for fomenting and creating rift among Afghan people and despicably accuses Hazaras for demanding too much, has already tried to find solution but failed. Actually, he did not want to find solution, he rather dealt on Hazaras' rights and demands by securing some top level posts for his cronies. This is not new though, Hazaras are familiar with such deplorable games he has been playing over the years. It is recently that people decided to transition from a traditional corrupted and misusing pubic trust on his own advantages. One of the reasons that the Enlightenment Movement has taken root is as a result of years of mistreatment and misrepresentation of people by their own leaders like Mohaqiq and Khalili, who not only did no good to the Hazaras, but exploited them in various ways.

We all know what we can do and how we can do. We need to prolongate our struggle through various ways, which I will be writing some tactics in the next blog posts. We have to oppress our doubts in order crush the discriminatory attitudes of the government against the Hazaras with sheer bulk of civil disobedience, including writing our stories, criticizing, publishing pamphlets, organizing public events where poems could be read and songs could be played. In different stages, we have to change our strategies and even we should question our service to the current government, including serving in the Afghan National Army. We should ask this question from ourselves: Why do we have to serve a government that doesn't listen to us? Why do we have to fight for a government that unleash its terrorist to kill us?

We have to call all our services for this government into question and we should calculatedly decide which one is feasible and what would be the impact on ourselves and what would be an immediate blow to the government. We also have to be aware that the current government is about to fall apart, the Hazaras should not be blamed for any disastrous events that would lead to the collapse of the government in the near future.

Jan 29, 2016

Afghanistan's Economic Prospect: From Troubling to Bleak

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has just released its quarterly report on Afghanistan to congress. The special project's report contains a list of reports that are highly concerning about Afghanistan's future. Among the many of concerns on the country is its economic prospect.

Despite more than a decade of reconstruction and development efforts, the Afghan economy remains in fragile and worsening condition. Intractable insurgents, cutbacks in foreign military personnel, persistent emigration of people and capital, and a slowing global economy are shifting Afghanistan’s economic prospects from troubling to bleak. Source: SIGAR Quarterly Report

Giving the fact that the country has been in turmoil for decades, long enough that the infrastructure eventually extirpated, it is considerably hard to measure Afghanistan’s economy growth on a global economic index, but there are some reports that give a good estimate of how has Afghanistan’s economy been doing in post-Taliban era. Since 2002, the slowest growth that Afghanistan economy has experienced was in 2014.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the highest GDP growth was recorded 14% in 2012. Then, in 2013, it surprisingly experienced a drastic decline which was recorded 3.9%. In 2014, it dropped lower to 1.3%, and in 2015, it even went steeper to 1%, which is lowest than it has ever exited. But now there is a report that came out just yesterday indicating Afghanistan’s GDP growth may drop even lower.

Considering all these facts about Afghanistan's economy, it is safe to say that Afghanistan's economy in 2016 may not change if there is not any improvement in its current political instability and violence that is overwhelmingly increasing throughout the country. Based on SIGAR report, Afghanistan has become more dangerous today than the years before. It reports that the Taliban now have control more territory than at any time since 2001. It estimates that roughly 71.7% of the country's districts are under Afghan government control, or influence.

In the end, the negative yield curve in Afghanistan economy could only change if there would be any outside help not only to fragile economy, but as well as to its security. 

Jan 4, 2016

A Brief Review: The Last Thousand: One School's Promise in a Nation atWar


I posted this on my Facebook page, then I realized that I must have first published it here to make it an official piece, but then I thought an official piece means that I have to do a thorough review of the book. Well, I might come back and do that soon, before my classes start, but for now, it is not a bad idea to share a glimpse of the book which contains inspirational stories of young Hazara girls at Marefat High School. Contrary to other books that so far have published on Afghanistan and have tried to give a grim outlook of the future, The Last Thousand is the opposite, it gives an optimistic picture of Afghanistan's future, while noticing the lack of insecurity and warning about the fall of the country into the hands of the Taliban. 

I just finished reading The Last Thousand: One School's Promise in a Nation at War by a renowned journalist Jeffrey E. Stern. The original version of the book will come out on January 26. I started it three days ago, and thought that my incremental reading would last for a week. I was wrong. When I started reading, it was hard for me to even take a break. It is so elegantly written, so masterly told that it feels more like leafing through the diary of a dear friend that one tries to discover the secrets, than an excursion through the current historical experience of Afghanistan that centers around the young Afghan girls who are thirsty for education.

The Last Thousand is all about hope, and happiness that Afghanistan needs for its futuer, like Najiba, a mother of four children who starts school at an old age because she wants her kids to be raised by smart parents; like Tamana who despite her loss and ordeal becomes a symbol of hope and strength in the school; like Yunos Bakhshi who brings his telescope to school to teach Marefat students about the universe, the other planets and our solar system; and like the Teacher Aziz Royesh, the main character who revolutionizes the minds of young girls, turning them into powerful contributors to social change and education.

These girls are the powerful determinants of their lives in Afghanistan’s future. The epicenter of all these changes is Marefat, and finally it tells the reader that the crust of the Afghan society must adjust itself to the nature of ever-increasing magnitude of change that is brought by young girls.

A deep and hearfelt thank you to Jeffery Stern for writing such a painstakingly beautiful book - of hope - which is full of inspirational stories!