Friday December 10
Sydney town hall
Organised by Stop the War Coalition and Refugee Action Coalition
Ten years of war have not brought democracy or human rights to Afghanistan. The Karzai government, which the West is supporting, only remains in power through rigging elections. Karzai’s Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim is described by Human Rights Watch as, “one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands from the civil war.”
Twenty-one Australian soldiers have lost their lives in the conflict. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed. Opinion polls show that the majority of Australians want the troops out. Ordinary Afghans are also sick of the violence. Malalai Joya, Afghan MP and leading democracy activist, explains why the West has to get out: “The only change that can make us hopeful about the future is the strengthening and expansion of a national anti-fundamentalist and democracy-loving movement. Such a movement can be built only by Afghans. And while we want the world’s support and solidarity, we neither need nor want NATO’s occupying forces.”
War Creates Refugees
2010 has been the most violent year since the war began. Civilian deaths are up by 95% on last year. The UNICEF 2010 Humanitarian Action Report states that 235,000 people have been displaced and a further 2.6 million Afghans have registered in neighbouring countries as refugees. One third of the population is food insecure, over two thirds do not have access to safe drinking water, and 90% have no access to sanitary toilets. The Afghani population faces danger on a daily basis from depleted uranium weapons, cluster bombs and unmanned drones being deployed in the war.
Australia locks them up
Even as the Australian Government continues its involvement in the Afghanistan war, it locks up refugees escaping the conflict. It claims it is safe for them to return to Afghanistan. But its own current official travel advice for Afghanistan warns that the “security situation… remains extremely dangerous”.
Most Afghan refugees in Australia are ethnic Hazaras, a vulnerable group persecuted by the Taliban that the Karzai government and Western forces have failed to protect. In late June 11 Hazara men were violently beheaded in Uruzgan in southern Afghanistan. Even Hazaras who have fled to Pakistan are persecuted, with over 400 killed there in the last two years. Afghanistan expert William Maley says it would be “extremely dangerous” to send Hazaras back to Afghanistan. But the Gillard government is negotiating with the Afghan government to do just that.
Get the troops out of Afghanistan, Stop the war on refugees—join the speakout on International Human Rights Day on Friday December 10.