Of Death, Democracy and Human Rights

In February 2007, former Taliban and Mujahideen groups managed to stage a rather uneventful rally in support of a legal amnesty for war crimes and human rights abuses for all the warlords as well as many ex-communist power brokers. It was quite a spectacle to see how groups who only years earlier distrusted one another like a pack of hungry wolves were now eager to go on the public record in the defense the atrocities they collectively committed. While they chanted “Death to Malalai Joya“, “Death to Sima Samar“, “Death to Communism”, “Death to America”; one female MP, Shakila, went a step further and famously chanted “Death to Human Rights” at the end of her speech. The rally brought together warlord now vice-president Karim Khalili, warlord now vice-president Mohammad Qasim Faheem, warlord and ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani, notorious warlord and now MP Abdur Rab Rasul Sayyaf and even the least active Mujahideen factions who had all of a sudden been startled by the potential for their prosecution over crimes committed against defenseless citizens over a period of two decades and more. I won’t even try to ridicule the slogan “Death to human rights“, the statement speaks for itself.

Cartoon by Jafar Razai

In late October 2009, many students from the country’s largest educational institute Kabul University went on protest against NATO and American presence and against alleged de-Islamisation of the country. Slogans and banners had familiar tones as they chanted slogans such as “Death to America”, “Death to Democracy” and “No to Democracy, We want just Islam“. While elsewhere in the world students protest for better living conditions, more freedom and greater democratization of institutions; in Afghanistan students protest for a return to the dark ages, for ideological nightmares and for more brutality. Not surprisingly, this episode was an all male event. Women either did not take part or were kept away. This had me wondering as to what the hell it is that these people were being taught in their classes.

Earlier the same year when protesters took to the streets to protest for and against the notorious “Rape Law“, those for the laws, mainly including disciples of Islamic Republic of Iran funded warlord now MP Ayatollah Asif Mohsini, chanted “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”, “Death to Human Rights” and amongst other things ransacked a local school, pelted women protesters against the law with stones and condemned others to an eternity in hell.

More recently during the graduation ceremony of the Engineering faculty of Kabul University, the stage was adorned with a large banner similar to the Saudi Arabian flag or the former Taliban flag decoarted with Islamic chants , the ceremony started with shouts of “Allah akbar”, “Death to democracy”, “Death to freedom of expression”, “Death to America”. While many students were rejoiced by the slogans, others were stunned but had to observe silence as a measure of safety.

Such is the hegemonic power of Afghanistan’s albeit insane religious institutions that its fascistic grip permeates every sphere of life. And not surprisingly it is the students that are exploited first. After-all warlords and fanatics like Ahmad Shah Massoud, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Rasul Sayyaf had at one time or another been University students and in case of Sayyaf, a professor of Islamic studies.

I fear for the future of younger generation of Afghanistan, where over half the population is under the age of 18.

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