On the Ground in Afghanistan: Elections, Ceasefires, Human Rights, Child Labour & Everyday Life

Dramatic Election in Afghanistan (July 3, 2018)

By Khomosh in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a country of uncountable problems; people do not have information about their basic rights.

It is now trying democracy, but the role of democracy is new. Some people do not find it acceptable because they are not educated and actually do not know the main meaning of democracy.

One of the most important objectives of democracy is the election, by which people can select their leaders. The last presidential election was held in Afghanistan on April 5, 2014, and it was hoped the Afghan people would select a good president for the country; and have a good parliament and provincial councils.

But everything went wrong. 

Incumbent president Hamid Karzai was not eligible to run due to term limits. An initial field of 27 candidates was whittled down to eight with front runners Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Fraud allegations tainting the final result resulted in a recount of votes at 1,900 of the 23,000 polling stations. Ghani was eventually declared the winner in September, 2014. People had high hopes but  it did not work out.

Many people who voted had their fingers cut by the Taliban and it attacked some polling stations. Finally John Kerry (United States Secretary of State at the time) helped select the president. After that people knew their vote didn’t have any value and felt hopeless for the role of democracy and elections.

Soon there will be parliamentary and districts elections. The population of Afghanistan is approximately 33 million, but less than four million people have registered to vote, showing people do not trust election.

First of all,  we need to work for accountability and transparency. Then we can have clean and transparent elections. Now our people believe the Commission of Elections is not independent. They think some members of that commission have been hired by Dr. Abdulla Abdulla and some others hired by Ashraf Ghani, People think the election in Afghanistan is just a drama and nothing more than that.

Afghan Security forces have assured the country that they will carry out operations in insecure areas, but not government-controlled areas, to ensure security for people during the voter registration and voting stages of the election. Still, most people believe that security forces will not be able to keep security on voting day and armed groups will attack the voting stations. Security is necessary for transparent elections.

Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections have been repeatedly pushed back due to security fear and logistical challenges. Afghanistan’s election authorities have now set this coming Oct. 20 as the date for the long-delayed legislative (parliamentary) and district council elections.


Peace in Afghanistan? (June 19, 2018)

By Khomosh in Afghanistan

After decades of war and bloodshed, Afghanistan has witnessed an unprecedented ceasefire by the two sides of the war.

A few days ago, the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, announced that from the 27th Ramadan to 5th Eid the Security Forces will not attack the Afghan Taliban. And some days later, the Taliban also announced that for three days of Eid, it will not attack Afghan forces. The militants said foreign forces would be excluded from the ceasefire and that operations against them would continue. They also said they would defend themselves against any attack.

Many Afghan people are very happy about this decision of both sides and they hope that this decision will be a chance for permanent peace. They hope that the pleasure of shedding no Afghan blood during Eid becomes so overwhelming that the rest of the year is also declared as Afghan Eid.

Eid is the biggest festival of Muslims when families visit each other’s homes, enjoy feasting and, in Afghanistan, tend graves of fallen loved ones. The Taliban have launched attacks during Eid in the past.

More than 22 armed groups are active currently. ISIS is growing day by day.

But the main point is that just three days of ceasefire is not the solution to the current situation and in Afghanistan it is not just the Taliban who are active. More than 22 armed groups are active currently. ISIS is growing day by day. 

They threaten our people’s lives. Recently they gave a warning to all the school in Nangahar Province — so we should not have hopes of peace from them.

Before that, people were happy to see the arrival (after 20 years in exile) of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar (an Afghan politician and former warload) in Kabul, thinking that the security situation would improve with his presence. However, it has gotten worse. Now some people believe it is in the hands of America. If America wanted to bring security to Afghanistan, it could bring it in one day. But it is benefiting from the current situation and does not want security here.

The reasons why we don’t have hope for peace soon: 

  1. The armed groups are from other countries and are supported by other countries. They cannot make their own decisions.
  2. There is no strong democratic party here that people can gather around and a lot of people doubt political parties because they have bad memories of them from the past.
  3. The current Afghan government is also corrupt. If we have a lot of corruption in out government, how can we bring peace to our society?
  4. Poverty is anther reason for insecurity: when people cannot find work, they join armed groups.  

The Beauty of Nuristan (June 2, 2018)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

“Women often spend whole days chopping timber and loading it into giant baskets. Each woman will carry between 40 and 60 kilograms of wood home . . . “

Nuristan is a one of the eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Throughout history, it has been known by different names – Kafirstan and Bloristan. For about one century, Nuristan province was non-Muslim but after Amir Abdul Rahman Khan Pacha of Afghanistan, the inhabitants of this area overlapped Islam and became Muslims.

The Nuristan Province is divided into eight administrative units with its capital known as Parun, while Wama, Kamdish, Bargi Matal, Du Ab, Nurgram, Want Waygal and Mandol are its districts. Geographically, the province is a mountainous region with many jungles, and large green trees. There are many green valleys, with water flowing from the mountains.

The language of Nuristan is also different from other Afghans; they speak Nusitani, which is a language that is a little difficult to learn quickly. 

nuristani 1nuristan 2
The province has less land for agricultural purposes because most of its land is occupied by forests, maple, deodar, walnut and other dry fruit trees. In the western parts of Nuristan toward Nuagram district, people are mainly associated with livestock and orchards’ professions.

The women of Nuristan are stronger. It is the custom in Nuristan that women do the farming, look after the animals, bring wood from the mountains, and even, when someone builds a house, the women bring the stones, bricks, and soil. Women often spend whole days chopping timber and loading it into giant baskets. Each woman will carry between 40 and 60 kilograms of wood home, sometimes with disastrous results.

nuristan 3

The culture of Nuristan is deeply different from the culture of rest of the provinces.
Most of the people associate with the profession of livestock. Their houses are made of wood with two windows in the two sides of the walls and more than one family can live in one room.

When they want to get married, the father of girl takes many cows or goats from the groom and after that they get married. If the groom does not give them the goats or cows, he can’t get married.

There are not enough facilities of Education and Health; there are no professional teachers and doctors.

nuristan 4

Traditional sports are popular in Nuristan Province. A game known as Teer Kaman is usually played by the people in the spring season. Throwing stones is also common.  

March 8, 2018 Celebration Ceremony in Nuristan Province


The Children of Nangarhar (May 21, 2018)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Children are a power linked with the future of society. If a society invests in its children they will  have a bright future. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan everything is different. Children don’t have any value or purpose, and sometimes this turns into destruction, and other wrong activities. So people use this to say children are foolish or rude.

Of course the main reason is poverty. Their parents are not able to provide an education for them. There are lots of innocent children who have undertaken feeding their family members in Nangarhar (a province in the North Eastern part of Afghanistan), and cannot achieve education for a bright future. Some other innocent children are working as laborers to get the daily necessities of life.

The children who do go to school are faced with a lot of problems. There are no buildings, no chairs, and not enough books in the schools. That is another reason they are not interested in learning. One other big problem in our society is that most people are sexist. Most people deter their daughters from education as that is a traditional issue. Because of that we have much fewer educated girls, especially in Pashtun places.

The Government of Afghanistan also does not have any clear plan for the future of Afghan children. Life is hopeless for every one.

child-in-nangarhar-e1526941993894.jpg

Naveed is a child who should go to school, but poverty will not allow him to do so. All day he shines people’s shoes to gain some money for his family.

The Surkh Rod District of Nangarhar has more than 100 brick factories, employing mostly poor families who take loans from factory owners and then struggle for years — sometimes generations — to pay off their debt. Often entire families, including children, are forced to work to pay off these loans. As a result the children are taken out of school. 

“They come from morning to evening and work as laborers to pay their debts.”

child brick workers

 

 

 

 


The Current Situation of Nangarhar Residents

(May 16, 2018)

“We are humans like other people of the world.  We also want to live free like others. We also want our children to go to schools and universities and get an education, but still we are not allowed to live like that.”

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Nangarhar is one of the provinces of Afghanistan that is located in the Eastern part of the country. This province has 22 districts and administratively it is divided into 23 parts. All the districts’ administration and sub-governors are controlled by the governor of the province. The province shares a border with Laghman, Khost and Konar provinces of Afghanistan. The province also shares an international border with Pakistan.

Kabul nangarhar high way

Kabul to Nanganhar Highway

“This has become our lives. We keep trying to live like normal people, but the violence is driving us all mad.” 

Nanganhar has an estimated population of 3 million people. Most of these people live in rural areas and only a small portion of these people live in Jalalabad, the capital of the province. The people living in this province belong to Pashtoon, Pashai, Arab, Tajik and other small groups. Although a lot of people speak the Pashtoon language as their mother tongue, most of the people living in this province and particularly in Jalalabad city speak Dari.

bah photo 3Most are busy in farming, animal husbandry, chicken farming and fish farms. But the current situation is worse for the residents of Nangarhar because no one is secure here, even farmers and laborers. Many armed groups are active here and they are killing people using subterfuge. Our people do not like this situation, but we can’t release ourselves from these things because the armed groups are so strong and they are supported by foreign countries.

In April of 2017, the then newly elected US President, Donald Trump, dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever made, known as the MOAB or “Mother of All Bombs”, on Achin district, angering Afghans across the globe and decimating portions of a small village in the Asad Khel area.

 This has meant residents of Nangarhar province, including the capital of Jalalabad, experience constant violence and attacks from all sides. 

“This has become our lives. We keep trying to live like normal people, but the violence is driving us all mad.” 

The other big problem is the corruption in many government and non-government organizations. Educated people can’t find jobs. They are getting hopeless because of their life and, after some time, some are joining the armed groups and making problems for  other people .

We are humans like other people of the world. We also want to live free like others. We also want our children to go to schools and universities and get an education — but still we are not allowed to live like that.

I hope that one day everything change will change in our area and we will live free and we will  be able to access  basic human rights like other people of the world.

 


HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN, PART 1 

 

afghan-school-2

A school without  walls in Nanaghar Province, Afghanistan

“From 2001 to 2016 there have been some achievements for Human Rights. But, still, we are faced with a lot of problems.”

By  Khamosh in Afghanistan

Human rights are moral principles or norms, which describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights “to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being,” and which are “inherent in all human beings” regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone.

Afghanistan (which literally means Land of Afghans) is a Hmountainous, land-locked country located in south-central Asia. The region has a history and culture that dates back over 5,000 years, although it was only in 1747 that Ahmad Shah Durrani united the various tribes and founded what is currently known as Afghanistan.

Mujahedeen and Taliban:

The Mujahedeen was a dark period for Afghanistan. In this period human rights were violated. Women and children were raped. Then after the Mujahedeen, the Taliban attacked Afghanistan and they changed Afghanistan into a cemetery. They did not care about human rights and specifically women’s rights. They beat women when they saw them alone in the city or outside of their houses. Girls were not allowed to go school. Some girls were killed by the Taliban in their five years of government.

Post Taliban:

The Bonn Agreement of 2001 established the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) as a national human rights institution to protect and promote human rights and to investigate human rights’ abuses and war crimes. The Afghanistan Constitution of 2004 entrenched the existence of the AIHRC. While the ongoing turmoil, violence and reconstruction efforts often make it difficult to get an accurate sense of what is going on, various reports from NGOs have accused various branches of the Afghan government of engaging in human rights’ violations. There have also been various human rights abuses by American soldiers on Afghan civilians, most notably in the Baghram prisons where innocent civilians endured torture, humiliating conditions, and inhumane treatment. The United States was heavily criticized for lenient sentencing for the soldiers responsible. Former Afghan warlords and political strongmen supported by the US during the ousting of the Taliban were responsible for numerous human rights’ violations in 2003, including kidnapping, rape, robbery, and extortion.

From 2001 to 2016 there have been some achievements for human rights. But still we are faced with a lot of problems. For example: in rural parts of country, girls can’t go to school,  and we are not able to solve this problem. Not all Afghan people are able to use the justice system; we don’t have enough health centres, especially for women. Girls can’t get a “love” marriage. Acid is thrown on girl’s faces and a lot of other crimes happen against humans in Afghanistan. The main reason for violations of human rights is Fundamentalism. 

Below, Afghan students sit in a yard in a village in Nangarhar Province, as there is no building for classes, and no stationary or white boards. When it rains they stay in a room without doors or windows. 

 

 


Human Rights in Afghanistan, Part 2: What It Means To Be A Human Rights’ Defender (Jan. 27, 2017)

By Khamosh in Afghanistan

Human rights’ defenders seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights, as well as the promotion, protection and realization of economic, social and cultural rights. “Human rights’ defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights.

To be a human rights’ defender, a person can act to address any human right on behalf of individuals or groups. Human rights’ defenders address any human rights’ concerns, which can be as varied as, for example, summary executions, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, female genital mutilation, discrimination, employment issues, forced evictions, access to health care, and toxic waste and its impact on the environment.

Defenders are active in support of human rights as diverse as the rights to life, to food and water, to the highest attainable standard of health, to adequate housing, to a name and a nationality, to education, to freedom of movement and to non-discrimination.

The upsurge in violence in Afghanistan has had devastating consequences for civilians, with suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and targeted attacks by the Taliban and other insurgents causing 70% of all civilian casualties. The number of civilians killed during government military operations increased as well. The number of internally displaced people nearly reached 2.5 million in 2016.

While the government affirmed its commitment to human rights, it failed to address violations of women’s rights and attacks on journalists.

Another example: School officials managed to get Kabul authorities to write a letter ordering the military forces to leave a school site, but the commander ignored the order. When the students needed to take exams, school officials again presented the letter to the commander. Officers fired their guns in the direction of the assembled teachers and students. Schools should be safe places, even in the midst of conflict. The use of schools by military forces may run contrary to the global Safe Schools Declaration, the political commitment endorsed by Afghanistan in 2016.

At the recent October 5th Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, donors agreed to provide US$15.2 billion in aid to Afghanistan to be used over the next four years. This aid is desperately needed in a country with deteriorating security conditions and a fragile economy. A record number of Afghans are fleeing to Europe, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been sent back from Pakistan, Iran, and Europe.

Finally, the actions taken by human rights’ defenders must be peaceful in order to comply with the Declaration on Human Rights’ Defenders.

All together in defense of human rights!

Categories: Afghanistan, Uncategorized

Tagged as:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s