By Khamosh, in Afghanistan, July 12, 2019
The cinema industry has been in Afghanistan since the early 20th century, but the political situation of that time did not allow the cinema to grow. In the 20th century, “Pashto” and “Dari” movies were made both inside and outside Afghanistan.
Since 2001, when the Taliban regime collapsed in Afghanistan, the country’s cinema has been moving into a new phase of life.
“Amir Habibullah Khan” from Kandahar (1901-1919) was the emir (king) of Afghanistan, who was interested in the cinema industry for the first time, but his attempt to bring the cinema to this country remained limited to royal families, and virtually this technology was out of reach of the public.
After “Amir Habibullah Khan” was killed in 1919 by a family coup (when he was hunted in Kaleghosh, Laghman province), his son, Shah Amanullah, came to power. For the first time, in 1923, he brought a cinematic projector known as a “Magic Lantern” or “Magic Box” into Afghanistan. In the same year, for the first time, a silent film was presented to the public in Laghman.
In the years 1928 to 1932 under Nader Shah’s regime, the clerics’ warnings closed down the cinema and film industry in Afghanistan.
The first Afghan cinema hall: “Zahir Shah” did not have as much fanaticism as his father, and the space to make the film in Afghanistan became a little more open, as the first Afghan cinema, Behzad Cinema, was founded during this period. The first Afghan film, “Love and Friendship”, was directed by Latif Rashid in 1946 and was the first movie played in Behzad Cinema. The first Afghan movie film was made in the same years, although the film was shot in Pakistan’s Lahore.
In the early days, Afghan cinema only included news footage of government work and some documentary films. In general, it can be said that in Afghanistan, the subjects of political cinema films were always at the hands of the government.
Over the years, space has become a little more open and, as far back as in 1968, the first cinematic organization was created under the name of the “Zabiullah Faroutan”.
In the start, “Zabiullah Faroutan” produced documentaries and films about official meetings and government conferences, and all of these films was screened at the cinema until they were screened in India’s cinemas.
The Taliban’s dominance in Afghanistan and the closure of cinema: With the start of the 1990s, the rise of Afghan civil wars and the Taliban’s domination of the country, a large number of people in the cinema industry fled to Iran or Pakistan and some of them continued their limited activities in the form of making videos for NGOs.
When in 1996, the Taliban generally took power in Kabul, many cinemas were demolished and many films burned in the fire. This group completely banned watching TV and movies and even many cafes and restaurants were destroyed near theatres.
The fall of the Taliban regime and the revival of the cinema: Since 2000, as the Taliban rule had come to an end, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an inspired Iranian film director, attracted the attention of the world to the film, “Kandahar.” It was the first film on the history of cinema in Afghanistan, and went to the Con Film Festival.
Current situation of Afghan cinema: Despite all the advances made since the fall of the Taliban government in the Afghan cinema industry, the cinema still suffers from major problems; there is a lack of attention from the Afghan government to the film industry, equipment and cinema halls in the country, as well as some radical anti-cinematic views. It seems that television networks do not have much to do with cinema, and especially in the field of advertising, distribution and sale of cinema films, they do not care much about it.
There are not many statistics on the number of cinemas in the country, but according to the statistics covered in 2011 there are only about 10 cinemas that officially feature films.
Since cinema in Afghanistan has not yet become a cultural site, most of the people who go to the cinema are unemployed youth. But there was no way for women to go to the cinema. Until 2011, for women interested in cinema and still, there is only one cinema in Kabul, which has a specific time for women, and is not always open, and often closed for a long time.
The quality level of education in various sectors of the cinema industry is very low and until a few years ago, the only cinematic training centre in this country was at Kabul University.
Music of Afghanistan
By Khamosh, in Afghanistan, July 2, 2019
MUSIC: Sounds are all around us, from birds chirping and waves lapping against a coastline to cars honking in traffic. But sometimes sounds are put together in purposeful ways to create a specific atmosphere or to express ideas or emotions. Such organized sounds are called music.
Music is back with a bang in Afghanistan. After being banned by the Taliban between 1996 and 2001 for being sinful, it’s flourishing again and helping the spirits of many battle-scarred Afghans to soar. Afghanistan has an ancient tradition of song, built on the rich culture of poetry. The Afghan music icons started blending the classical music with the western music, grabbing the attention of urban youth as early as the 1970s.
Afghan music is a milestone in the beauty of ethnic and linguistic diversity in Afghanistan, and Persian, Pashto and Turkish form the main language of the lyrics. In this country, various genres and styles of music are prevalent from Persian poetry to Indian Rag. The musical steps are mostly diatonic (lacking microtone), and until recently the multimedia and harmonies in the western form did not have much effect on Afghan music.
The music of Afghanistan is largely a song, but there is also a significant repertoire of unconventional music. Poetry has a special place in the music culture of this country. The Persian poetry’s heritage, which has much community with Iran, is of great importance among the people, and Pashto poetry also has historical roots. Lyrics consist of a few subjects.
The music of Afghanistan has brought together artists in a variety of ways, with some of them beyond the borders of the country. Since the sixties of the solar era, the country of Afghanistan has seen much violence. Therefore, despite the rich heritage of music in the country, repressed music has been minimized for foreigners.
Although the city of Kabul is the cultural centre of Afghanistan, Herat has a special place in the arts field, because it is the home of traditional Afghan music and its music is closer to Iranian music than other provinces of Afghanistan.
Kinds of music in Afghanistan: In general, Afghan music has several different styles
- Folk and traditional music: It is the local music of Afghanistan. The music of those sides and places of renown are: badakhshi style, kharabati, loqari, qataghani, hahrzyghi, pashto style of the Paktiya people, the clan of the Pashtun nationality, the Turkmen, Herat, Panjshir. In harmonic or vocal, there are people in Nuristan. Famous local artists can be described as the Gul Zaman (in Paktian style), Safdar Tavakoli (in the style of Hazragy), Billton (in the style of the Logarians), Navak Herwi (in the style of Herat), and Bengicha Takshergani (in the north side).
- Religious music: The Afghan concept of music is closely associated with instruments, and thus unaccompanied religious singing is not considered music. This music is based on the guidance of the Islamic religion by Naat singers and the poets of the Sufi and Qawali, and has now reached its high degrees. The subject of this style is to describe God and the Prophet of Islam and his companions. The lyrics of this style sometimes take up to 10 hours.
- Afghan pop music: The term is a new style that has a lot of listeners. This style came about after the establishment of Radio Afghanistan in 1921. After the arrival of a variety of Western instruments, especially after the 1940s, this was a good boom.
- Afghan Hip Hop Music: This includes modern music with modern appliances. Compositions and poems of this kind of Afghan music are sometimes mixed. In the evolution of this art, Afghans living in Europe and America have played a major role.
These pictures have been taken from Afghan National Institute of Music.
Handicrafts of Afghanistan
By Khamosh, in Afghanistan, June 9, 2019
In every country there are unique handicrafts and cultural products that introduce the customs and traditions of the people of that place.
In Afghanistan, also, there are different kinds of handicraft products which depend on the region and zone in which people live. Handicrafts in Afghanistan are like a treasure of genuine culture from the past to future generations, and today they have a great place in the world.
Because of these decorative works, art and civilization have been rich for several millennia. From the designs of the carpets underneath the majestic kings to the endearing houses of the people of Afghanistan all were combined to create the arts and crafts of this country.
The handicrafts of the people of Afghanistan have a reputation from the past, and a number of people in the country continue to sell their products to meet their economic needs.
Handicrafts are a kind of activity in which decorative and functional accessories are made using a simple hand or simple tool. The handicrafts of Afghanistan are sewing, knitting, textile, architecture, painting, carving, engraving, carpentry, ceramics, agriculture, domes, glass, metalworking, perfumery, spice making, etc.
Today, crafts in different countries of the world have a high position and provide economic resources. In countries like Afghanistan, handicrafts, unlike advanced countries, still maintain their traditional status and have become a profession for making money for the people of this country.
In Herat province, women sew on cloth fabric to make collars for men, and trouser legs for special traditional pants.
Sewing front cloth for men takes at least six months, and women’s pants takes three or four months to complete. This art is considered a cultural heritage and is passed from mother to daughter, and daughters are expected to learn the way of it.
The majority of girls in Herat are familiar with the way of sewing (khamak doozy). This type of sewing is highly prized and people use it for formal and traditional occasions.
Also, there are other valuable and unique kinds of sewing. Carpet weaving in Afghanistan is a costly and prized industry. In the south of the country, there are several industries existing with innovated and capable male and female carpet weavers. The carpets of Afghanistan are famous and popular in design, durability and strength all over the world. Numerous are exported annually to foreign countries.
Years before today in Kabul and the northern regions of Afghanistan, the construction of a kind of shoe, which is called by the name of Chames, was very popular and at that time thousands of people worked in this field, but now it’s seen that the industry of these shoes is closed in the country.
Some obstacles have diminished the face of the precious handicraft heritage. In the corners of Afghanistan there are man-made crafts. Aslo, the last three years of conflict have caused the reduction of all once-strong Afghan industries, especially carpet weaving.
As we know, handcrafts have economic benefits as well as keeping alive the historical culture of Afghanistan.
Sport in Afghanistan
By Khamosh, in Afghanistan, May 7, 2019
Currently Afghanistan is faced with many problems, security problems and economic problems which have reached the highest point. All people are disappointed from the current situation, but one thing that brings happiness to the people in the past few years and unites the Afghans is sports.
Afghan athletes work with different motivations in various sports fields, but the common ideological aspect of these athletes can be from maintaining health to succeeding in international fields. Expansion of sport may be part of the achievements of the nation and the Afghan government over the past 18 years, which is more than any other achievement.
The Afghan people know that even the government has not achieved the same results, which is why the growing trend of sport in Afghanistan is regarded as admirable and its experts consider it a step towards achieving the highest humanitarian goals and objectives.
Sport has been accompanied by ups and downs in Afghanistan, but in the last 18 years it has grown steadily — the management and motivation of athletes cannot be ignored. Motivation and sense for the athletes are morally good, and for this reason the government and the nation have won victories in international competitions in several fields, especially taekwondo, football and cricket.
The Popular Sports of Afghanistan
Football (Soccer), Cricket, Boxing, Basketball, Buzkashi (the national sport of Afghanistan) are played mainly in the northern part of the country. Taekwondo, bodybuilding, and some other sports in which Afghanistan competes include volleyball, golf, track and field, team handball, weightlifting, ice skating, baseball, snooker, and chess.
But Football (Soccer) and Cricket are the most popular games in Afghanistan. This is not so much a surprise since they have a lot of open areas which are conducive to such sports. But the traditional sport of the Afghan people is what is called Buzkashi. Some games recorded can take up to days to finish.
Cricket is the most popular sport in Afghanistan and is one of the main sports that Afghans participate in and watch on television. At the national level, cricket matches are played between provinces, mainly between the five zones of the country. According to locals, cricket has helped Afghanistan in bringing unity. For a country where the game arrived less than two decades ago, Afghanistan’s craze for cricket is astonishing. The poster boys for associate members have progressed rapidly along the pecking order, enough to earn respect and draw popular support back home. When there was no cricket, people played football; it was the biggest game. The 2012 Olympic medals made taekwondo popular. But cricket is now undoubtedly the biggest sport.
The Afghanistan national cricket team was formed in 2001 and has held matches against all other international cricket teams. The Afghans rapidly rose through the World Cricket League since early 2008. It participated in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier, and qualified for the first time for the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 in the 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division One. The Afghanistan national cricket team has competed in the ICC World Twenty20 since their qualification in 2010 and their debut for the Cricket World Cup since 2015.
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is the official governing body of the sport of cricket in Afghanistan. Its current headquarters are in Kabul. The ACB is Afghanistan’s representative at the International Cricket Council and was an associate member of ICC from June 2013 to 2017. Now it is one of the full members of ICC. It is also a member of the Asian Cricket Council.
Picture taken from Afghanistan Cricket Board website.
Why do Afghan people like sports?
First: they believe that sport is important for health; Afghans are suffering from a long war so sport is good for psychological problems.
Second: the Afghan people consider doing sports, exercises and membership in sports teams a way to achieve unity and solidarity among ethnic groups and nationalities. Clashes and civil wars, which in most cases are religious in Afghanistan, have damaged the body of Afghan unity, and now the new generation in the country is working to create solidarity and unity among nations in every possible way, and sport is a way to unite them.
Third: another point that is considered to be motivating athletes is to see sport as a sign of fighting war and camaraderie with peace.
Fourth: tired Afghans of war and violence are trying to demonstrate that Afghanistan is not a backward and warlike nation, but a peaceful and civilized country that wants to live calmly like other nations of the world.
Two important days in modern history of Afghanistan – the Saur Revolution
By Khamosh, in Afghanistan, April 29, 2019
Finally, the Taliban regime collapsed, and the new regime came to power by calling for democracy, humanitarianism and a free market. These were all the consequences of the 28th April or 8th sowr.
On the morning of April 27, 1978, a military uprising against the government of Mohammed Daoud began in Afghanistan. The sound of the ball and the roar of the tanks swept through the city. Armored tanks moved 20 kilometers east of the city to the Kabul centre. The efforts of the Ministry of Defense and other institutions did not result in stopping the move.
Ten hours of fighting ensued between those loyal to the authoritarian regime of Daoud. Russian jets, Type MIG-21, targeted the presidential palace and military districts around Kabul. Daoud’s regime’s collapsed. From a political point of view, the coup was a success, and only one hour after the fall of the regime, the Communist “comrades” regime in Kabul was officially recognized by the Soviets.
April 28, is considered to be the day of the Mujahideen’s success day of regiment. Ordinary people say that they do not have a good idea of what happened on these two days. The Soviet Union took advantage of the ignorance of leaders — the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan — to achieve its political and colonial goals. But on April 28, people who had fought in the mountains and valleys of the Soviet Union for many years all exerted their strength and power in the war, and captured the capital. The uprising was known as “sowr-eight” or the “saur revolution”.
The people came to Kabul or, in other words, captured Kabul. People who lived in the mountains and valleys were less familiar with city life and customs. They took with them what they learned from their upbringing in the valleys and the hardships of the mountains to carry out and win the uprising to bring peace and good rule.
After that, the social and political actions of the Marxist Khalq and Parcham (two factions of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan), along with internal and external impulses, and the party’s closeness to the Soviet Union, resulted in disorder and dogmatism. The two factions within the party left the government in disarray. With the advent of Khalq and Parcham, it was the start of black shadows, sabotage and misery in our country. We began to be dominated by a wave of horror, murder, killing, imprisonment, shooting, barbarism, rape and plundering of the people of Afghanistan.
These extreme social and political measures, and the misguided foreign policy, led to the self-righteous resistance of the people of Afghanistan against the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan which, consequently, led to the invasion of the Soviet Unions’ Red Army into Afghanistan in 1979.
The purpose of the occupying forces’ was to consolidate the interests of the southern union in the south and, in a similar way, save the 1978 “revolution” of the Communist comrades in Kabul, which were regarded as “usable” for the Soviet Union. It was the Cold War, and with this Soviet military assault, Afghanistan became more and more a ball of the superpowers. When the Red Army attacked, the resistance of Afghans intensified, led by the Mujahideen – guerrilla-type military groups led by Islamist Afghan fighters (jihadists).
The Russian agents in Afghanistan did not properly study Afghanistan’s society, and committed relentless crimes in Afghanistan, killing many innocent people.
But among the jihadist parties, there was distrust and demands for power. This lack of understanding and reliance on coercion and fraud led to the formation of neither a government – nor the meeting of legitimate demands of the people.
Of course, this happened during the Cold War. The Mujahideen had the support of the Western countries. The Soviets finally withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, but the Mujahideen could not agree who would rule Afghanistan. The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, turned into a blood bath and a civil war broke out among the Mujahedeen, killing thousands of people (70,000 innocent people were killed just in Kabul by Mujahideen). Of course, national and international media groups witnessed the war in Kabul and other areas among the Mujahideen. Two million martyrs, six million immigrants, thousands of wounded and disabled, thousands of widows, the destruction of all the infrastructure of the country and the collapse of the community, economy, culture, morality, and national unity all occurred. The worst was the collapse of the state system and government, and the continuation of war, destruction and bloodshed up to this day — all because of an unpopular coup d’état for the oppressed nation of Afghanistan.
Finally, the power of the Mujahideen was weakened, and the Taliban emerged and dominated the country. During the Taliban years, Afghanistan was in a dark period. In this context, foreign forces, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and the coalition were forced to wait for the fall of the Taliban regime.
Finally, the Taliban regime collapsed, and the new regime came to power by calling for democracy, humanitarianism and a free market. These were all the consequences of the 28th April or 8th sowr.
After the Taliban regime was over, many members of the leadership of President Hamid Karzai were members of former Mujahideen groups. In the first few years, «sowr-eight» and the success of the Afghan Mujahideen was celebrated with a military showing and large numbers of government meetings. But nowadays, Mujahideen’s Day of Independence is not generally celebrated, and is mentioned only in a public meeting inside the Presidential Palace.
Afghans do not have a good memory from these two days — (7 and 8 sowr or 27 and 28 April — but they believe that these two days, sadly, were the start of war and misery in the country for decades to come.
Afghanistan Peace Process
By Khamosh, in Afghanistan, April 24, 2019
Such wishes (for peace) must be organized and planned in a mechanism and in accordance with objective conditions. Otherwise, it may also have a far more dangerous consequences.
For Afghan People, unity is essential for the peace of Afghanistan. If people are not united and do not identify the enemy of Afghanistan, then no one can bring peace to Afghanistan.
One of the important topics of the day is the issue of peace. With the passing of several years since the establishment of the new political system, and the widespread presence of the international community, the issue of securing peace or establishing peace in the country is still at the forefront. Undoubtedly, the establishment of peace in a country that has been in conflict and war for more than four decades is not a matter immediately to be solved. But the lack of such an expectation also does not justify that, after nineteen years, the country is still in a crisis of insecurity. The general situation, especially the reconstruction process, has been affected. In other words, the current situation has been totally stalled due to the spread of insecurity and the intensity of the opposition and the extent of the war.
Following the 2001 attack by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center in New York, the United States and NATO allies invaded Afghanistan, which resulted in the Taliban being defeated. Seventeen years after the fall of the Taliban, it has resurfaced and is a serious threat to Afghanistan; analysts believe that the crisis in Afghanistan will not be resolved through war.
Zalmay Khalilzad, while serving as the US State Department’s adviser, began a mission in recent months between the US and the Taliban and the two sides have spoken several times. In the past 17 years, the Taliban has denied any negotiations with the Afghan government and said it is only negotiating directly with US officials.
Khalilzad, who is Afghan-American, has a good understanding of Afghanistan’s society, politics and culture, and has good experiences as a veteran politician in his work. He has good relations with the president, Ashraf Ghani, and played a major role in Afghanistan after the United States invaded in 2001. Between 2003 and 2005, Khalilzad served as Ambassador to Afghanistan. The new constitution was approved by his efforts and he was recognized as one of the architects of the government after the Bonn process.
Some political analysts believe that the Taliban should be part of the political process in the Bonn process in order to avoid the troubles that Afghanistan now faces.
Here is the question: If Khalilzad is responsible for carrying out this important mission, can he really work for peace in Afghanistan or manage the other games that are being played here? Because at the time of jihad, Khalilzad made the relationship between the Afghan mujahedin and the US governmen. That result is now clear to everyone.
The special situation in Afghanistan has doubled this necessity for our people. But the point that one should not forget is that wishing and expecting something, and achieving it in accordance with the objective conditions are not the same thing. Such wishes must be organized and planned in a mechanism and in accordance with objective conditions. Otherwise, it may also have a far more dangerous consequences.
The government should publicly make aware this issue — who are enemies of peace? Why do people get caught up in their ads? What is the speech and suggestion of the government to achieve peace? Unfortunately, over the course of several years, the government tries to overcome the boundaries of the so-called ambiguity, as well as the necessary privileges.
For Afghan People, unity is essential for the peace of Afghanistan. If people are not united and do not identify the enemy of Afghanistan, then no one can bring peace to Afghanistan. We hope to see peace and security in Afghanistan one day.
Orange flower Ceremony (Gul Narange mila)
By Khamosh, in Afghanistan, April 14, 2019
The ceremonial celebration of the flower of orange was celebrated with the participation of hundreds of government officials, culture activists, poets and people from the provinces of Nangarhar, Kabul, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Kunar and Laghman.
The purpose of this celebration was to create a spirit of solidarity and pleasure for the participants and to welcome the coming of the spring and the floral season and the beauty of nature.
One of the ceremonies is the celebration of the orange flower in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, and is held annually when Jalalabad is full of orange flowers and orange aromas.
As well, hundreds of government officials, culture activists, poets and residents from Nangarhar, Kabul, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Kunar, Laghman, and a number of cultural activists from the city of Peshawar participated in a ceremony held on this occasion in the Sieraj al-Amart Gardens.
The orange flower ceremony is held to welcome the coming of spring; this event is celebrated every year from 10 to 30 dates in hamal month garden of Jalalabad city or one of the other gardens, and aims to solidify the participants, helping them to enjoy and welcome the coming of spring, the greenery, the beauty of nature, and finally the surprise of the orange flower.
This ceremony is more likely to include a poetry booth or poetry class between different classes, both older and younger. In the same way, hymnal arrangements with instruments and singing are also held on the occasion of the coming of spring and the flower of the orange. There are so many other entertainments in this garden.
At the ceremony, orang samim, head of Nangarhar Information and Culture Department, and Shah Mahmood Miakhil, the Governor of Nangarhar province, spoke about the history of the natural roots of the orange flower ceremony and its importance in the cultural heritage of the country.
Like the orange ceremony, some other ceremonies are also found in different provinces of Afghanistan and the Middle East, such as: rose ceremony in Mazar-e Sharif, pomegranate ceremony in Kandahar, Ustad spring ceremony in Logar, Arghavan flower ceremony in Charikar, apple flower ceremony in the Maidan, Red Roses ceremony in Turgavindi, Arghaven ceremony around Kabul and Nastaran flower ceremony in the Bagh bala.
Director of Information and Culture in Nangarhar province says a large number of poets and writers from different parts of the country are present at these ceremonies.
Although some officials from some provinces participated in these ceremonies, most poets read their poems uncensored.
On the one hand, some participants consider the ceremony of this year to be very high compared to previous years, but they consider the poems of some poets as being devoid of artistic values.
The head of the Nangarhar Information and Culture Centre continued: The first ceremony of the flowering of the orange flower was held in 1340 hejri in the province.
Every year thereafter, this day is commemorated.
He added that in addition to the celebration of the orange flower in 1340 AH, 13 other events were also announced by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
Samim adds that in some other provinces, the flower of the orange is still celebrated. But in Nangarhar, this celebration is celebrated by cultures each year.
All about Bamyan Province of Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, April 2, 2019
One of the central provinces of Afghanistan, the secure province of Bamyan, is located to the south of Hindu Kush and north of Baba Mountains.
Bamyan is an historical province of Afghanistan, having been known by different names in different times. In the map of Buddhism, the province is named “Bamika”; during the 5th Century, AD “Fan Yank”; and according to famous Chinese tourists in 132 AD, Bamyan was named “Fan Yan Na”.
The ruins of Buddhist idols, Band-a-Ameer and the first National Park are the historical antiquities of the province. Bamyan Province, located in the heart of Afghanistan, is connected to the provinces of Baghlan and Parwan, with the provinces of Ghor and Daikundi, south in the province of Maidan Wardak, north of Samangan and Sar-i-Pul provinces. The inhabitants of this province are Hazara, Sadat, Tajik, Qizilbash and some other ethnic groups of Afghanistan.
The majority of Bamiyan residents speak Dari in Hazara accents.
Bamyan has seven administrative units: the capital Bamyan city, the districts of Yakawlang, Waras, Shaibar, Sayghan, Kahmard and Panjab. The people of Bamyan are the followers of Shia and Sunni sects who perform their rituals in more than 2,000 mosques and shrines. The people of Bamyan are conservative Islamist who value and celebrate their religious days in traditional way.
Traditional sports being played by women are famous in Bamyan province with each side making groups to play the traditional “Pisho” game. The “Pisho” game is mainly played by groups of women at wedding ceremonies, with singing poems and dancing as the main playing parts of the game. Music is considered unlawful during the wedding celebrations, while poetry and praisful lyrics add more glamour to the wedding ceremony.
The six lakes known as Band-a-ameer are one of the best natural place in Afghanistan. The lakes form the country’s first national park, located on a desert plateau about 70 km from the towns of Bamyan. The lakes have created a series of natural watercourses with separate natural barriers, each of which are several meters above the upper lake. The area of the largest lake, called Zulfiqar, is 490 hectares. These sections, which separate the lakes, consist of calcareous materials known as Sodium Carbonite. Band-a-meer is one of the most important examples of this type of geographic formation.
The waterfalls lying above the walls of the lobbies pack ice in the winter and create a spectacular view. The landscape around these lakes, with its reddish, earthy, and colorful layers of rocks, is reminiscent of the Grand Canyon landscape. Wetlands and marshes around the lakes constitute major canoe paths or natural habitat for migratory birds.
According to a Pajwak report, the ruins of Buddhist idols, Band-a-Ameer, the cities of Ghulgulah and Dahak, Chal Burjah, Azdar valley, Feroz Bahar area, Astoyah, Kilgan, Gohageen, Kafri, Chal Dukhtarn, Chal Ston and Shahri Shahi are among the historical sites of Bamyan. Through these historical remnants, the government and people of Bamyan earn a lot when foreign and local tourists visits the province.
The ancient Buddhist idols were there from the time of the Buddhist reign 1,600 years ago until they were demolished in March, 2001 by the Taliban. For the Taliban, the existence of idols meant polytheism and that’s why, after a couple of days and nights of bombing, the Taliban succeeded in dynamiting them.
The two historical idols, “Salsal”, 53 metre high, and “Shamamah”, 35 metres high, are situated three kilometre to the south of Bamyan city in a mountain and the idols are registered with UNESCO as a world historical site.
Other historical sites from the Buddhist reign include Band-a-Ameer, Gulgula and Dahak city, and are also UNESCO world historical sites. The German agrological group, after the enthusiastic demands of people, is spending $3 million for the reconstruction of Buddhist idols and they have managed to recover more than a thousands pieces of these idols having a total weight of 90 to 100 tones. After a joint meeting by Japan, UNESCO, France and the Ministry of Information and Cultural in 2007 in Berlin, it was decided to fully rehabilitate the Buddhist idols.
Popular trades: Most people are farmers and livestock farmers, and according to the Agriculture Department of the province, 86% of the people’s income is based on agriculture and livestock. Bamyan is one of the largest potato producers in the country, and exports thousands tons of potatoes annually across the country and abroad. The professions of the people are carpet weaving, mashi, felt, broccoli and shalefi, embroidery, etc.
A History of Nowruz in Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, March 24, 2019
Thousands of years ago, residents of the land of Ariana (Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan) celebrated the first day of the year and the beginning of Spring by holding ceremonies specially for the celebration of happiness and blessings. They blessed this day, and gave thanks for its favors. They were happy for the year ahead. Today’s celebration of Nowruz continues this tradition and is celebrated worldwide.
According to the Ansar newspaper, since ancient times, the inhabitants of this ancient land have not forgotten the commemoration of the historical Nowruz and they appreciate it in every era and time.
Some scholars and speakers have attributed the historical roots of this great tradition to Jamshid Shahriar, the Great Prophet Dynasty, and called it “Nowruz Jamshidi”.
In Ariana’s culture, Ferdowsi, a great poet of Persian language, has this to say about Nowruz: “After a series of social reforms, Jamshid sat on the golden throne and traveled the distance between Damavand and Babylon in one day, and that day was from March to April (they said “the day of the first month of the year”), so people celebrated this surprise and celebrated that day as “Nowruz”.
Also, it is quoted from the language of Abūrīān Āīrīānī who has said: “Nowruz is from the Persian script, and the first day is April (month of carriage) and henceforth it is called ‘Hamal’ because it is the head of the New Year and what is behind him is the celebration of these five days.”
Nowruz in different cities of Afghanistan
Nowruz celebrations are held in many parts of Afghanistan. A celebration of roses is held in Mazar-e-Sharif, a celebration dedicated to the Prophet Ali. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the country visit the shrine and New Year’s enthusiasts come from different regions of the country. Even from Iran, Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries, they come to Mazar-e-Sharif to celebrate the national celebrations as much as possible.
In the capital of Kabul, Norouz bars are also held in villages such as Khaje Safa, Shah Shahid, Sakami, Kariz Meyr, Stalip’s beautiful hill, and Ghulghundi Charikar.
In Herat, people will come to the holidays in and out of the city on the occasion of the first days of the year and the first Wednesday of the year, as well as on the thirteenth day of Nowruz, celebrating Nowruz.
In Nangarhar, people also celebrate this day but it’s different from other provinces. In 2019, the people of Khewa district celebrate it with the music concerts, poetry and some sports activities.
Among the traditions of Nowruz celebrations and the beginning of the New Year, is the launching of the Samanko bar on the first night of Nowruz with hospitality and happiness, as well as the supply and distribution of water for seven fruits (seven types of nuts, known as dry fruits in Afghanistan). Seven Sinn is also common in some parts of Afghanistan.
In the historical narratives, one of the Umayyad emirs of Maur al-Nahr, Amir Dabdāllah, transmitted a large boiler made of seven welded metals to the city of Samarkand, in 1050 AH, to Balkh, in which a boiler of water was seated with seven fruits on Nowruz day and distributed to the people.
On raising “Flag Sakhi”
One of the traditions of the Afghan people, especially in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, as well as in the capital of Kabul, is the raising of a shrill (green-tinted fabric), which is known as Jeddah Sakhi.
There are also religious aspects of Nowruz in Afghanistan. According to an historical narrative, in 1288 AH, the deputy Mohammad al-Kham Khan surrounded a shrine (attached to Imam Ali in Mazar-e-Sharif) with houses and houses, and asked for a straight stick from the forests of Maura Al-Nahr. This was used for Mubarak’s scientific study, and is still used today.
Peasant Day Celebration on the first day of the year
Nowruz, as the beginning of the spring season, is linked to the objective life of the Afghan people, and a large part of our people who are Kyrzar warmly welcome the coming of spring and Nowruz, and start a new page of their work and activities, For farmers it is a special occasion to celebrate.
The Afghan government has been officially involved in the celebration of Nowruz in various periods, but during the Taliban rule, any ceremonies associated with the ancient Norouz and ancient traditions were prohibited and blasphemous. The Taliban even declared the Hijri Shamsi calendar and Nowruz as the first day of the year to be void, and announced the lunar year to be the official calendar, instead.
But given the depth and breadth of the Nowruz celebration as a praiseworthy and national paradise in Afghanistan’s history and culture, it is impossible to believe that Nowruz will ever end, even if it has to go far from Afghanistan or disappear from time to time.
The realities of the human and social life of the peoples of this homeland will be warmly welcomed with an everlasting welcome. The Spring season is the cultivation and planting season of the “Nowruz” seedlings.
People of Afghanistan, in 2019, celebrate Nawruz while suicide bombings and explosions create fear everywhere.
International Women’s Day, 2019
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, March 7, 2019
International Women’s Day on March 8 is the day of solidarity of women across the globe. On this day, organizations, parties and democratic and revolutionary individuals, especially those freedom-loving women who struggle for their rights, vow once again to continue their tireless efforts for women‘s rights and equality.
Setting a day for women is a sign of respect and appreciation. Publicizing the slogan of women’s liberation and universal support for women’s human rights is another goal of Women’s Day. Most women have seen a lot of oppression in their lives. This oppression throughout history means that women in all societies have undergone conditions of deprivation of human rights.
The good news is that women in the villages have become aware and celebrate March 8 in the most remote regions of Afghanistan.
It is true that the modern era of massive economic, cultural and scientific developments has brought about great achievements in community laws and people’s lives, including women’s lives. The abolition of enslavement, race equality, liberty, social justice, human rights, and the rights of children are all achievements and great advances which humans have accomplished. One of those honors is the gains that have been made in the area of freedom and equality for women.
But while the roles of women in civilization and advancements in society are tangible, the legal and human rights of women are not. The principle of male and female inequality has existed in all human societies, although the severity of women’s oppression and captivity in different cultures and societies is naturally different in relation to certain cultural, religious and social determinants. The reasons for inequality, along with the process of liberation and the means to stabilize women’s rights in various societies, have had different forms.
Afghanistan is one of the countries that has recently adopted a relatively modern constitution with the support of the great world countries (not on the basis of its natural social evolution). The new constitution, in accordance with civil and human rights declarations, including the Declaration on the Rights of Women and Men, has created organizations to defend women’s rights in the country, and even a Ministry of Women.
Nevertheless, the system of inequality of life for men and women remains intact in current Afghan culture and society. The underlying causes of gender inequality in Afghan society are sexual, historical, social, cultural, religious and economic.
The situation of Afghan women has improved since the Taliban era, but ruling traditions and war are still obstacles to implementation of the law. The 17-year-old women’s efforts to enforce their rights have made them active in the political and economic spheres, but the presence of women in these fields is still negligible.
Afghan women, despite their professional capacities in the political, social, economic and cultural areas, still face widespread human rights violations and discrimination. Afghan women are calling for serious attention from the government and international partners to protect women’s advancements in different areas and strengthen their attendance and rights for women all over Afghanistan.
Afghan women are celebrating International Women’s Day this year, while still facing the above problems. The good news is that women in the villages have become aware and celebrate March 8 in the most remote regions of Afghanistan.
Civil activists and human rights advocates want all people of Afghanistan and opposition groups to stop the current violence, and welcome respect for human dignity. Our solidarity shows that our sisters are tired of hearing from people who are violent against women.
Rivers of Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Feb. 15, 2019
Afghanistan is a mountainous country and the economy of its residents is based on agriculture and animals – and water is a huge part of its continuing development. Without water, human beings cannot live without water. It is found on the ground as rivers, oceans, ice and canals.
The Ministry of Water and Energy of Afghanistan has distributed all the water into five basin regions in the country, as below.
1. Kabul River Basin
2. Helmand River Basin
3. Harirud-Marghab River Basin
4. Panj Amo River Basin
5. North River Basin
Afghanistan’s rivers have a special significance for the development of the national economy with regard to new technologies and knowledge based on legitimate needs and requirements; if dams are built on these rivers the following benefits can be accessed:
- production of electricity
- development of agriculture
- prevention of floods
- the saving of water
- creation of fish farms
- development of gardens and jungles
Many of Afghanistan’s major rivers are fed by mountain streams. The Amu Darya on the northern frontier has a number of significant tributaries that rise in the eastern Hindu Kush. It is the only navigable river in Afghanistan, though ferry boats can cross the deeper areas of other rivers. The Harirud River rises in central Afghanistan and flows to the west and northwest to form part of the border with Iran. The long Helmand River rises in the central Hindu Kush, crosses the southwest of the country, and ends in Iran. It is used extensively for irrigation and agriculture, although in recent years its water has experienced a progressive buildup of mineral salts, which has decreased its usefulness. Most of the rivers end in inland seas, swamps, or salt flats; the Kabul River is an exception. It flows east into Pakistan to join the Indus River, which empties into the Indian Ocean.
Conflict on water with Iran and Pakistan
Afghanistan’s damming of the Harirud River boosts agriculture and industry in the country. However, the resulting reduction in water flow to Iran could contribute to a deterioration of relations with Iran. Iran wants to talk with Afghanistan on how to share the water of the Harirud. Nowadays, some parts of Iran are faced with dryness or aridity. So a member of Iran’s parliament suggested to his government that it should talk with Afghanistan regarding the Harirud river, and Iran should give Afghanistan gas and power in exchange. On other side, the Kabul River is already fueling a “wicked” conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Afghanistan has abundant water resources. It produces 80 billion cubic meters of water a year, pumping 60 billion cubic meters of it to the neighbors — particularly Pakistan. The Kabul River supplies around 26 percent of the annual flow of water in the country, rising in the Hindu Kush and flowing along the borders of 11 provinces before draining into the Indus River near the city of Attock in Pakistan. The river and its tributaries provide an important source of livelihood for about 25 million people living around the basin – and that population is expected to increase to 37 million by 2050.
The Afghan government recently announced that it will soon commence work on the construction of the $236 million Shahtoot Dam on the Kabul River. The dam is expected to hold 146 million cubic meters of potable water for 2 million Kabul residents and irrigate 4,000 hectares of land in the Charasiab district of the province. The project is a component of Afghanistan’s India-backed ambitious plans of building 12 dams on the Kabul River basin. For Afghanistan, however, the Kabul River is beyond a tool of coercive diplomacy against Pakistan. It is a mean of livelihood for 7 million Afghans living around the basin, and an indispensable resource for reinvigorating its collapsed economy.
Marriage System in Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Feb. 4, 2019
Marriage is one the basic rights of humans because it’s difficult to live alone, for both male and female. For this reason, men and women try to find a perfect life partner with whom they can pass their life. People in most countries in the world other than Afghanistan try to have a “love marriage”, but Afghanistan is different. Some abusive traditions are present in our community that people have linked to religion, even though these traditions are not really part of the religion.
Here in Afghanistan the fathers, brothers and other family elders are authorized to make decisions for their daughters or sisters to find a life partner for them. Fathers, brothers or uncles have the right to give their daughters or sisters into bad relationships. In some provinces of Afghanistan, women are given for the sake of reconciliation in murder cases, and this practice is considered to be effective and people defend this action in Afghanistan. They use religion as the excuse.
But it is not part of the goals of marriage. The law says the punishment for murder is the death sentence. Islam never blames anyone other than the perpetrator. The Afghan constitution also says it is a crime. No one deserves punishment for someone else’s guilt.
Losing females through gambling is also common in some areas. Women are considered valuable goods in gambling.
In many areas, such as Kunar, Nangarhar , Khost , Paktia and Kunduz, it is common for men to change wives with each other. Both sides make the decision to change their wife with each other and no one pays mahr (Islamic dowry).
The bride price is known as walwar in Pashto-speaking areas and toyana and sherbaha in Dari-speaking areas. It is an Afghan tradition with no foundation in Islamic law and does not feature in the draft marriage law. According to the draft marriage law and civil law, the only payment that can be requested by the bride’s family is the Islamic dowry (mahr), which should remain the property of the bride for the duration of her marriage.
Bride price and mahr are not the same: the bride price is a payment that the father of the bride receives, while mahr is the groom’s financial pledge to his wife. According to Islamic (sharia) law, women who enter into a marriage contract are entitled to receive mahr and it is intended to provide security for her and her children in case the husband dies or requests a divorce. According to Hanafi jurisprudence fiqh, a wife is allowed to use the mahr in any way she sees fit as it is her property – this means that she can also return it or share it with her husband or their extended family. mahr is an Islamic matter and a gift from the groom to the bride. This is the financial obligation that a husband has to his bride. The draft marriage law and Islamic law provide limited instructions regarding the size of the mahr or the timing of the payment; this is left to families to decide.
The other important issue is selling of women; this is a terrible thing. In some areas, men sell their daughters or sisters, and this is common in all provinces of Afghanistan. For example the price of Nuristan Province girls is 20 to 80 cows, so if a man has enough cows he can get married. Otherwise he must stay single. The prices of some Kandahari girls are above than 20000$, but the income of a man is much less. So if he were to give 20000$ to his father- in- law or his brother- in- law, how would he have enough money to run his life after married?
Girls’ forced marriages are one of the worst traditions, but have taken a fundamental place in the culture of Afghan society. Sometimes boys are also forced to get married without their consent.
Sometimes powerful and wealthy men, when they reach old age, take very young girls in marriage in order to meet their needs. Often, because the young girl is given access to position and wealth, this practice is considered acceptable. But these customs do not comply with Islamic Sharia philosophy and the goals of Islamic marriage. If there is a collision, such a marriage will result in nothing other than the system’s defeat, destruction and consolidation.
New Trade Development in Afghanistan Raises Morale
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Jan. 28, 2019
As we know, Afghanistan is a third-grade country due to economic growth. The last five decades of war have destroyed all the factories. We didn’t have anything for export and the internal market in Afghanistan was divided between Pakistan and Iran. We were compelled to import their low quality edible and non-edible things. When they closed the borders we were face with a lot of problems. The prices of every item doubly increased at that time and we were faced with a lack of items. But during the last four years, this problem has been solved a little bit by the current government which has been able to find alternative ways for this problem. The Afghan government signed trade agreements with other countries such as India, Tajikistan and some European countries to export and imports items. In trade, the big achievements were opening the Chabahar port and also opening of Lajward transit way from Afghanistan to Europe.
The Azure (Lajward) Route is one of the initiatives of the Afghan government that was launched in 2014 as an initial plan. According to this plan, five countries connect Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey along the historic Silk Road which connects Afghanistan to Europe and the Balkans through land and railway lines. The plan was followed by several meetings by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and last year, on the sidelines of the Rika 7 Summit in Ashgabat, a memorandum of this line was signed with the presence of the second deputy president of Afghanistan and representatives of the aforementioned countries. Following from that agreement last year, for the first time, the project for the Targhundi Herat line was officially launched at the Turkmenistan border of 200 kilometres.
The line was officially launched by sending the first shipment of Afghan goods to the contracting parties on Thursday, April 22, 2018, with the presence of representatives from five countries and the presence of the rich president in Herat. The Azure Route, as an alternative and as an initiative from Afghanistan, has not only economic and commercial advantages but also historical and spiritual privileges.
In addition to the economic and commercial benefits for Afghanistan, Lajour offers a kind of hope and hope for every citizen of the country. It makes us more hopeful for the future of the country. The conflict over the years have caused the people of Afghanistan to suffer seriously from a psychological point of view. Now any development can have a positive role in the morale of the Afghan people. The Azure Route is an excellent example of Afghanistan’s design and initiative. As well as these two big ways, we have air trade with some countries and we can export and import our goods through airplanes, which changes our trade situation from before. Now if Pakistan or Iran were to close their border, we have alternative markets and we will not be faced with a lack of necessary items.
Afghanistan Trade, Export and Import Commodities
The following are the major commodities that form the basis of Afghanistan’s economy:
Export commodities include opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems.
Imports include machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, and petroleum products.
Ethnic Conflict in Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Jan. 14, 2019
Afghanistan is surrounded by many problems and the circle of all these problems widens day by day, preventing Afghanistan’s development and keeping its people in misery and poverty.
One of these problems is ethnic conflict, or racism and religious discrimination. As we know, Afghanistan is a country where more than 14 ethnic groups live — such as Pashtun, Tajik , Hazara, Uzbek, Aymaq, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Gujjar, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri and a few others. The most populous nations are Pashtun and Tajik. In the history of Afghanistan, all kings and presidents were from Pashtun nation, except for Habibullah Kalakani (king), Babrak karmal and Burhan Uddin Rabbani who belonged to the Tajik nation.
Nowadays, the enemies of Afghanistan are hardly working for an end to ethnic racism and religious discrimination. The free tool used by the enemy is to trigger ethnic and religious differences in the country, with the goal of destroying all systems, like a termite, from inside the country. In this condition, Iran supports Hazara’s in Afghanistan to stand against other ethnic Afghan nations; some specific Tajik are supported by other countries to stand against other ethnic nations; they are telling them that Pashtuns always oppress them so now is the time to stand against Pashtuns.
Besides this, some countries are working with Pashtun people telling them that Pashtuns are a brave nation who do not need other ethnic nations to come to power and lead them. These issues are helping to move the country towards destruction.
Many people express criticism about the government and the politics of the country regarding ethnic and religious discrimination. They say the leaders of the national unity government have not done anything to eliminate religious and ethnic differences, but, instead, have increased these differences for personal gain and power.
We believe that the work of various networks is not coincidental in promoting ethnic and religious differences or discrimination, and these networks are sponsored and funded from abroad, from where they receive their programs and agendas.
We have witnessed that some Tajik were against mentioning the word “Afghan” on their national electronic identity cards, saying that “Afghan” only applies to Pashtuns. The question is: If you live in a country by the name of Afghanistan, how are you not Afghan? But we all know that this a project of some people who want to divide Afghan people. We will not let them gain their objective, because we are Afghan. We have the same culture, we are brothers and we should tolerate each other. Here there is no hazara , hindu, uzbek , Tajik or Pashtun. We are just Afghan. We need unity so we can change our situation. The terrorists do not belong to a specific nation. ALL of Afghanistan is vulnerable.
How was 2018 for Afghanistan?
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Jan. 3, 2019
The year 2018 was bloody and full of terrorist acts for the people of Afghanistan. The war continued intensively; the Taliban seized more areas and, along with the Taliban, the ISIS group attacked and claimed more victims of civilians.
The explosion in front of the former Afghan interior ministry in January was one of the deadliest attacks of 2018. The attack was carried out using an ambulance and most of the victims were civilians
In 2018, parts of Ghazni and Farah were temporarily collapsed by the Taliban. Although Taliban fighters failed to control the centre of the two provinces forever, they displayed their power by entering these two cities, burning police and army check points, and plundering government centres, military equipment and vehicles.
In Ghazni City, as a result of four days of intense fighting inside the city, about 100 military personnel and more than 30 civilians lost their lives.
Both cities were subsequently released from the Taliban when American troops bombed the Taliban in these two cities. The handover of these two cities has caused a lot of damage and a number of residents of these two cities had to escape from their homes. President Ashraf Ghani was informed after three days of the fall of Ghazni.
In the fall of 2018, the Taliban also attacked Afghanistan’s most central and peaceful districts. This group tried to capture Jaghori and Malistan districts with surprising attacks, but eventually retreated. Daikundi Province also witnessed heavy Taliban attacks.
In 2018, religious gatherings were also not safe. The attack on the Milad al-Nabi was also unexpected. In this attack, a suicide attacker blew up his accompanying materials at a ceremony celebrating Milad Al Banbi, which killed and wounded many religious scholars.
Ahle honod also witnessed a bloody attack in 2018. A suicide bomber detonated himself in a line of Hindu and Sikh citizens, killing 19 people. This was the first direct attack on the religious minority in the past seventeen years. ISIS was more violent than Taliban in the violence of 2018; the ISIS group played a significant role. As the Taliban attacked the government centres more and more in the effort to expand their areas of control, ISIS attacks focused on civilian centres, mostly Sheyas. ISIS launched bloody attacks on Mawood educational course and the Maiwand gym in western Kabul.
After 40 years of fighting, the Afghan people aw three days of cease-fire. In summer 2018, the Afghan government announced a three-day Eid al-Fitr ceasefire and urged the security forces not to attack the Taliban during these three days. The Taliban also unofficially announced the three days as a ceasefire.
In three days of the ceasefire, Taliban militants entered cities with their white flags, and in some cases celebrated with joy with the ANA (Afghanistan National Army) soldiers.
A three-day ceasefire created the hope that the Taliban might end the war and violence, but after the end of the third day of Eid, war was restarted.
The Afghan peace process began to be more serious in 2018. Zalmai Khalilzad, a US State Department extraordinary representative for Afghanistan’s peace talks, spoke with Taliban representatives, but the talks were still not clear.
On one hand they started peace talks with the Taliban and at the same time, they kept pressure on the Taliban. The US Army announced that more than a thousand Taliban militants, including some of the governorate’s names and leading figures, have been killed as a result of joint Afghan-backed operations and overwhelming support, as well as air strikes.
On the other hand, the Afghan government says it has changed the way of war in the last month of 2018. The government’s leadership ordered the security forces to attack the hideouts of the group instead of only defending themselves from Taliban attacks.
Shab-e-Yalda: the Birthday of the Sun
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Dec. 27, 2018
The Yalda night is the longest night of the year and after this night the winter season begins in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan celebrate this night every year with different activities such as poetry, cultural programs, samanak (a kind of food), and music. Lovers give gifts to each other on this night, and also people enjoy various kinds of dry and fresh fruits. They invite each other to their homes to have fun and share dinner.
Yalda Night is also called by the name of Chella night in Afghanistan. Yalda night is a symbol of love and people believe that from the next day onward the days will get long and sunny and shine. The celebration of the Yalda night goes back seven thousand years but the people of this land have kept this ancient tradition. For many people Yalda night is the start of the winter season, because, after this, many parts of country are covered by snow and have a new face.
Throughout history, well-known poets in their poems, have used night-time metaphors, likened Yalda to “their loves” and have been inspired by it.
Yalda is the birthday of the sun:
People, in the past, believed that Yalda was the birthday of the sun and on this night the evil demon of God, Ddarkness, fought with the Ahura Mazda (Sun), and the Sun ultimately won. Yalda night was not officially celebrated by the rulers of the time, but this tradition was of particular importance to each individual family, and was cherished.
The Yalda festival is also popular in many Central Asian countries such as Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and some Caucasian states like Azerbaijan and Armenia. Elders say they stay awake on this night to defeat darkness and celebrate the rebirth of light. The people of Tajikistan, after eating watermelon on the night of Yalda, put it on their skin and believe that they will stay safe from headaches.
The Yalda night is observed like Norouz (New Year) and Mehregan (Festival of Autumn), and was celebrated after the advent of Islam in Iran and Afghanistan. As Afghan people keep alive their culture and history, other nations of the world will give them more respect.
But unfortunately, due to insecurity in the past few decades, people have not celebrated these days as much. The people of Afghanistan face sacrifices every day, and because of this, historical traditions have been reduced.
10th December, Human Rights International day
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Dec. 18, 2018
“Corruption still exists at the highest level and justice can be bought and sold.”
Human rights are the rights that are required for the growth and development of personality. A human being without rights is only a slave. Rights are born out of freedom. Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. People all over the whole world celebrate this day in different ways for human rights. The residents of developed countries are able to get their basic rights, but the residents of backward countries and the countries where there is still war are not able to get their basic rights. But they celebrate the 10th December (Human rights International Day) every year. Afghanistan is one of those countries, as it has been suffering from war for four decades. When the international community came to Afghanistan, people hoped that the rights of human would be resolved and residents of Afghanistan would be given access to their basic rights. Unfortunately, not enough work has been done in this area.
Unfortunately, children’s rights are not guaranteed here in Afghanistan, and many children are faced with sexual abuse and harassment. Heavy work, deprivation from education and health care are common things for Afghan children. Recently Bacha Bazi (dancing of boys at parties) was accepted as a crime but, still, no one has been punished for it.
Corruption still exists at the highest level and justice can be bought and sold. Although efforts have been made to fight corruption, it is not enough. Continuing cultural ethics are still worrying.
The 16-day campaign to eliminate violence against women shows that there is still violence in families – and that women are considered as property and “honour” and no one can intervene to improve the status of women. Many girls are not allowed to study. Women are beaten for using the telephone. Women are sacrificed in war and expected to act contrary to their dignity.
Social services in Afghanistan still face a lot of challenges. Children do not have access to educational services; school distances are fare from villages; and the absence of female teachers causes girls to leave school early.
People with disabilities also face difficulties. Polio still causes disabilities in children. Actions on the rights of people with disabilities are not sufficient. Unfortunately, there are no places for people with intellectual disabilities, even though the government is required to protect vulnerable populations.
I hope 10th December will continue to be a bright day for humans around the world, and that humans in Afghanistan will achieve basic rights.
Protest for Peace and Security
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2018
Recently the Taliban attacked the Jaghori and Malistan districts of Ghazni and the Khas Orozgan district of Orozgan province where Hazara people live. Hazaras are an Afghan ethnic people who have faced severe social, economic and political discrimination through most of the 20th century. Some officials say that the Malistan district has collapsed and is now in the control of the Taliban. For this reason, a large number of Hazara citizens of Kabul came out from their houses at 10 p.m. (Nov. 11, 2018) and started a protest for security. They blamed the Afghan government, saying it is not taking action for their security and the Taliban killing of civilians in Malistan, Jaghori and Orozgan Khas. They continued their protest until 2 p.m. the next day. After that they talked with President Ashraf Ghani through a phone call and then they finished the protest in Kabul.
Kabul demonstration pictures at night and day times.
As well as the Kabul protest, the residents of Bamyan and Dai kondi also came out from their houses and protested for Hazara’s security.
Bamyan Protest pictures
Daikondy Protest Picture
In the protests the elders and young mem and women all participated and their slogan was “Our demand is save Malistan, Jaghori and Orozgan). They called on the Afghan government to take action early in the threatened areas and save Hazara’s lives. Near the end of the protest in Kabul, a suicide person who planned to attack the demonstrators was identified by security forces but unfortunately he exploded the explosives and in this attack around five civilians including two women and two children and one police officer were killed, and more than 22 people were injured.
The demonstrators knew that maybe someone would attack them, but they did the protest anyway. Around two years ago on June,2016, a suicide attacker also attacked Hazara demonstrators in Dehmazang of Kabul and almost 80 civilians were killed and 231 were injured. Most of them were Hazara. But today they stand again for their rights.
In the end we can say that Afghan Hazara people are brave and they always fight for their rights because always they have been faced with injustice in Afghanistan in the past. But nowadays they are waking up and they have strong unity which is so important for a nation. They are not afraid from the threats. I hope that one day soon we will remove the discrimination from our country and we can live together. We should make unity of all kinfolk. When we find tolerance and patience for each other then we can have unity and we will achieve our goals. We must learn from our Hazara brothers and sisters.
Achievements of Afghan women
” . . . Afghan women want to get an education and want to work for their society, shoulder by shoulder, with men.”
By Khamosh in Afghanistan, Oct. 30, 2018
Afghan society is a conservative society and for women this creates a big challenge to gain their rights. The current situation of Afghanistan is not good. There are many security and economic problems still arising. Even men can’t work confidently.
It is really important that the government must not support the discriminatory ideas against the women. Afghan society is a society that has been dominated by male chauvinism and its history has been filled with various incidents of ruthless violence against women. There are different sorts of such incidents every now and then in different parts of country, even in today’s Afghanistan. Government can prove to be a hope for the women. If it itself encourages the intentions that may undermine the rights of women, it would be very difficult to expect the same from common people.
During the rule of the Taliban women were treated worse than in any other time. They were forbidden to work, leave the house without a male escort, or seek medical help from a male doctor, and they were forced to cover themselves from head to toe, even covering their eyes. Women who were doctors and teachers were forced to leave their work and sit at home, and girls were forbidden to go to school because of the prevalent ultraconservative policies of that period. But in the current regime, women have some opportunities to change their bad situations into good and they should try to engage in all activities.
Sept. 11, 2018 was the first day of school after the three-month summer vacation. On the first day of school in the front of many girls’ schools (Bibi Hawa High School, Malika Humaira High School and some others) bombs blasted. Fortunately, no students were killed or injured, as the students had not left their classes and were still in the schools. This shows that Afghan women want to get an education and want to work for their society shoulder by shoulder with men. This gives us huge hopes. A survey, which was done by the Department of Women Affairs, shows that in all Afghanistan approximately 5.8 million students in schools are girls. This is a big gain for Afghan society.
The Afghan government has removed severe discriminatory laws against women; ratified a constitution that promotes non-discrimination; and facilitated women’s unprecedented participation in national elections through civic education, voting and candidacy. There have been some notable improvements in the participation of women in public life, including in the Interim Administration, Emergency Loya Jirga, and national and local elections. Twenty-seven per cent of seats in the National Assembly and 25 % of seats in Provincial Councils are occupied by women; indeed, Afghanistan now has one of the highest rates of female participation in the National Parliament in the region.
A dedicated Ministry for Women’s Affairs has been established to lead gender equality initiatives across government. Women now constitute 26 % of civil servants, 24 % of employees in the government-run media and 21 % in private media companies. Of 17 Afghan ambassadors in other countries, two are women and more than 4,000 women have joined the National army. So for that, we say that Afghan women are brave because in every situation they are fighting for their rights. I hope that one day the Afghan women will be the strongest women of the region.
Afghan People Want To Change Their Country
By Khamosh in Afghanistan (Oct. 22, 2018)
Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018 was an historic day for Afghan people who chose to vote, under threat of Taliban violence, to elect the people they want to represent them in Parliament who can make their hopes and dreams come true.
Some 8.8 million Afghans were expected to vote in the country’s parliamentary elections as tens of thousands of forces fanned out across the country to protect 21,000 polling stations.
It was an election that was supposed to happen three years ago, delayed time and again by widening political schisms and worsening security. And where voting did go ahead on Saturday, it did so under the shadow of a Taliban vow to punish those who took part. There was no voting at all in two critical provinces, and the government said ahead of the vote that only two-thirds of polling stations would open because of security issues.
The province of Kandahar, where voting was postponed after its police chief was killed last week, will vote next week. And in Gazni people will not vote in this election. But in other areas people came to the polling stations with expectations and used their votes. The people knew that if they went to polling stations they could be targeted, but they went anyway, and that gives us huge hope. Now we can see that Afghans have woken up and they want changes in their country. Other great news is that of women’s participation from every corner of the country in this election.
With the big sacrifice which people accepted and came to vote with such huge threats, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) had a lot of problems. The Election centres had not been opened on time, some polling stations were not open the whole day and some polling stations did not have enough election materials. IEC Chief Abdul Baday Sayyad confirmed some technical problems in the voting process at a press conference and said central and provincial IEC officials had been ordered to immediately deal with the problem.
He said the IEC had decided to technically resolve problems where biometric systems did not work or had not arrived, and, if the issue persisted, precautionary tools or closed stations would be used.
“If problems still persist, the voting process should continue based on the voter lists and local IEC heads and observers should write the issue in detail in the journal with confirmation of observers,” he said.
“In polling stations where officers arrived late or electoral materials reached late, the voting time there has been extended to 6 p.m. and all those waiting in lines would be given the chance to cast their votes,” he added.
Sayyad said polling stations which remained shut until 1 p.m. would be open tomorrow (Sunday) for voters to cast their votes. About concerns regarding the biometric system, the IEC chief said one reason behind the problem was absence of officers trained in using the system.
However, he said people should not worry about their votes as their votes would not be missed or misused once polled. The IEC has also decided to resend a new copy of voter lists to polling stations where names of some voters were missing or spelled wrong.
Now we must wait for the results and see how transparent they are.
Drug Addiction in Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan (Oct. 1, 2018)
In the heart of Kabul, on the stony banks of the Kabul River, drug addicts gather to buy and use heroin. It’s a place of misery and degradation.
In broad daylight, about a dozen men and teenage boys sit huddled in pairs smoking and injecting. Among them are educated people – a doctor, an engineer and an interpreter. The same conditions exist in Nangarhar and other provinces, as well.
Afghanistan is a backward country — on one side there is insecurity threatening people’s live and on the side poverty is a huge problem. Many educated people are jobless. Some of them stand against the Afghan government, while others leave the country. And now drug addiction has increased in addition to the other misfortunes.
Afghanistan is a backward country — on one side there is insecurity threatening people’s live and on the side poverty is a huge problem. Many educated people are jobless. Some of them stand against the Afghan government, while others leave the country. And now drug addiction has increased in addition to the other misfortunes.
During the past two years, the number of drug addicts has grown by more than twice in Afghanistan. The population of the country is approximately 34 million and the number of drug addicts has reached from 1.5 million to 3.5 million – a disaster for the nation. Unfortunately, the government of Afghanistan is still not able to control this tragedy. Other bad news is that now, besides an increase in male addicts, there is an increased number of female drug addicts, as well. Women and children account for approximately 40% of the country’s drug addicts.
The reasons why so many Afghans are turning to drugs are complex. It’s clear that decades of violence have played a part.
Many of those who fled during the violence of the last 40 years took refuge in Iran and Pakistan, where addiction rates have long been high. They’re now returning and bringing their drug problems with them, officials say.
Another factor is the increasing availability of heroin, which over the last decade has begun to be refined from raw opium in Afghanistan itself.
When foreign troops attacked Afghanistan in 2001, one of their goals was to stem drug production. Instead, they have concentrated on fighting insurgents, but they have failed in this issue because they cannot control the drug cultivation and trafficking.
There is much more drug trade in the areas where the government has no control. The international drug traffickers also select Afghanistan as their centre.
Without doubt this is a big challenge for the Afghan government, but it needs to stand against it. It should devise a strong strategy and should introduce other plants instead of drugs — and the Afghan government and foreign troops should try to bring security.
Note: there are many hospitals in Afghanistan for drug addicts’ treatment but they are not able to treat all of them because the number of addicts is growing day by day.
See also: https://www.lailaatthebridgefilm.com/
History of the Taliban
By Khalid in Afghanistan (Sept. 24, 2018)
During the war of resistance war against the Soviets (December 27, 1979 to February 15, 1989), there was no party or group in Afghanistan by the name of Taliban; there were only a few small active groups in the southern part of Kandahar who called themselves by that name.
Most of the leaders and commanders of these small Taliban groups belonged to the Harakat Inqilab Islami party or Movement of the Islamic Revolution (Maulavi Nabi) and Islamic Party (Maulvi Muhammad younes Khalis) — these were insurgent groups known collectively as the mujahidin, who fought a guerrilla war against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan government, mostly in the rural countryside. The mujahidin groups were backed primarily by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
After the Soviets withdrew in 1989, there was a power vacuum, and the country was torn apart by warring mujahidin groups (known as the jihadist wars).
In 1994, at the height of the jihadist wars, some Jihadi commanders stood against their own criminal Jihadi leaders and announced a group by the name of «Tahrik Talba Karam». They declared their goal of jihad against evil and corruption in the mujahidin. At that time, Mullah Umar was a commander of the Islamic Party (Maulvi Muhammad younes Khalis).
In fact, the United States and its allies (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) in the region were not pleased with the Mujahidin because they were not able to establish a government in favor of America, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and they (Mujahidin) were warring amongst each others. During that time, stability in Afghanistan was very important to the United States because after the collapse of the Soviet Union, America’s eyes were on reserves and especially on fuel in Central Asian countries, which had just been released from the Soviet Union. Based on the geographic location that Afghanistan has, Afghanistan is the gateway to these countries.
So for that reason, the establishment of relative peace and stability in Afghanistan, and, most importantly, a state that would serve the interests of the United States in the region, was extremely important and crucial. So America tried to bypass the Mujahidin and support another group, called the Taliban, Again, Pakistan and Saudi were the actors who supported the Taliban.
In 26 September 1996 Taliban captured Kabul. First of all, they killed Dr. Najeeb, (Najibullah Ahmadzai who was the president of Afghanistan from 1987 until 1992), and his brother, Shah Poor. The Taliban took the place of Mujahidin in Afghanistan and they started cruelty against and torture of civilians.
According to Taliban rules, women were not entitled to education, to work outside the home, go out without a man, or go to doctor. The veil on women, which had been forced by the Mujahidin, was changed at the time of Taliban into the Burqa, and it was the only accepted clothing for women. If any women went out of her house without a Burqa, the Taliban whipped her or sent her to jail. They had similar behavior rules for men also. They measured men’s beards, and if the bearded men were not equal to their law so Taliban they would be whipped or sent to jail.
They considered Sunni and Pashtuns superior to others. They were crazy enemies of the Hazara and Shias of Afghanistan. After General Dostam attacked Mazar and it collapsed, the Taliban massacred Hazaras in Yakawlang and killed 365 Hazara at one time. They also destroyed the Bamyan Idols.
After the Taliban came to power in 1996, the United States and the West tried for five years to work with the Taliban’s administration for the benefit of America. But they could not. After 9/11, the United States decided that they should remove the Taliban from power so they invaded Afghanistan, because the Taliban were not in America’s favour any more. So on Oct. 7, 2001, NATO, led by the USA and England, attacked Afghanistan and in a month and a half, the Taliban had fallen in Kabul.
But in 2006, the Taliban reappeared.
The question is: how did the Taliban regain power? Most people think Pakistan is the biggest supporter of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but if we think deeply about this issue, we find an idea that Pakistan can’t support the Taliban alone. It does not have a big enough budget. Undoubtedly, Pakistan has its own benefits in this war, but nowadays Iran, Russia and China also support some Taliban groups.
Still the bleeding of innocent people continues and ordinary people are killed.
Challenges of Women Journalists in Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan (Sept. 16 2018)
Helai Asad works hard for her community and especially for women’s rights in an insecure section of Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan.
She is a teenage journalist working as a reporter with Kalid Radio. And she says her job gives her the energy she needs to tolerate the many challenges she, and other female journalists, face every day.
“But I need support because we need to build our capacity and I call on the Afghan government to provide security facilities for us.”
The population of every society is a combination of male and female, and both should have equal rights in society because both of them live in the same society and work for the same society. If men can work as journalists so should women have the same rights to work in media. Afghanistan is one of the most backward countries in the word. Here, people don’t know about their rights and fundamentalists are strongly against women rights. They are also against the rights of journalist women.
During the Taliban Regime there was no independent media in Afghanistan. Women were not allowed to work in government media. After the Taliban’s Regime, women were able to find the chance to go and work in the journalism field. Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist, and, unfortunately, female journalists are faced with more violence than men.
Dr. Leena Gharzai. a women’s rights’ activist, said that while progress has been slow at times, the last 17 years have witnessed immense gains for Afghan women, whom the Taliban relegated to their homes and prevented from obtaining an education during their rule in late ’90s and through most of 2001.
“We want Afghan women to become role models through political participation,” she said. “When they do that, they compete and succeed, often more than men in their chosen professions. But security problems, sexism, and not enough facilities are big challenges for female journalists in Afghanistan.”
Helai Asad agrees, saying, although girls have lately evinced a keen interest in working in the media sector, lack of facilities, economic problems and insecurity were some of the handicaps they encountered.
Helai is faced with multiple problems. On one side is the Taliban and ISIS and on the other side are fundamentalists threatening lives. Social pressure is another key issue highlighted almost universally among the journalists.
Perhaps stories like Helai’s, and other journalists, both old and new, will be a catalyst to inspire change and address these serious challenges. Afghan women journalists deserve much better. More power to them!
A Look At Human Trafficking In Afghanistan
By Khamosh in Afghanistan (Aug. 23, 2018)
In recent years, due to economic weakness, security problems and lack of Afghan family awareness about human trafficking, the trafficking rate has become very high and is common in many provinces of Afghanistan.
Human trafficking — a new form of slavery in modern times — has become an illegal business and a source of income for a number of smugglers inside the country and abroad.
“Afghanistan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of Afghan trafficking victims are children who end up in carpet making and brick factories, domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, begging, transnational drug smuggling, and assistant truck driving within Afghanistan,” states the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative: Afghanistan of the United States Department of State.
Most children trafficked outside the Afghan border for security purposes were from Samangan, Kunar, Badghis, Farah, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Paktika, Nangarhar, Nuristan provinces.
Sima Samar, chairwoman of the Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission, also said in one of her statements that, “One of the most serious problems in Afghanistan is the trafficking in human beings, and no work has been done in this regard. We want the Afghan government to address this issue”.
Trafficking in human beings in Afghanistan has not yet been criminalized as a crime by the Commission for the Minimum Trafficking in Persons in Afghanistan.
One year after Afghanistan strengthened human trafficking laws to prohibit the use of boys for sexual entertainment, there is little enforcement and trafficking is on the rise. “Bacha bazi” – in which young boys are abducted by commanders who force them to dance and sexually abuse them – was explicitly prohibited for the first time in the updated anti-trafficking and smuggling law, enacted in January, 2017.This was significant because cultural taboos discourage open discussion of bacha bazi.
Some smuggler bands are actively working on the young generation to motivate them to leave the country. In the last few years, more than 100,000 people have left the country and gone abroad. Some of them have died in the seas, some of them are shot by the Border Police, and those who reached Europe also faced many problems there. Some of them have been deported from many foreign countries back to Afghanistan. They spent their money and now they are living in a bad situation.
High insecurity is also a reason why some people are leaving their country or their houses because they are not feeling safe.
According to the 2012 Human Right Watch report, a startling number of imprisoned women were found to have been coerced into the sex industry by their own families. Fueled by the thirst for drugs or inescapable indigence, it is often the women’s own in-laws or even the husbands who auction them off. These findings are hardly surprising when accompanied by the statistic stating that more than 58 percent of the trafficked person’s families reportedly lack a source of income. (https://afghanistantoday.weebly.com/sex-trafficking.html).
By Khamosh in Afghanistan
Malalai Joya is a famous Afghan political woman, born April 25, 1978, the eldest daughter of a large and educated family in Farah province of Afghanistan. She has seven sisters and three brothers. Her father gave up his career to fight in the Afghan Civil war. He was injured and lost part of his leg. As the situation in Afghanistan became more and more dangerous, he left the country with his family and went to Iran, than Pakistan.
Joya is an activist, writer and former politician of Afghanistan. She started work as activist when she was very young, in Grade Eight. She served as a parliamentarian in the national assembly of Afghanistan from 2005 until early 2007, but in May 21, 2007 she was suspended from parliament. Joya had recently compared the members of the Wolasi Jirga (parliament) to a “stable or zoo” in an interview with Afghanistan’s Tolo TV. The video of the interview was shown to the members of the Wolesi Jirga, and they voted by a clear majority that Joya had broken Article 70, and disrespected her fellow Wolesi Jirga members. They suspended her for the rest of her term.
Her suspension has generated protests nationally, and internationally appeals for her reinstatement have been signed by well-known activists and politicians including members of parliaments from Canada, Germany, The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and some organizations.
Joya became famous by speaking out publicly, as an elected delegate to the Constitutional Loya Jirga, against the domination of warlords. For the first time Malalai Joya said Mujahedeen Leaders are criminals and warlords. Joya has not only been openly critical of Afghanistan’s government, especially its elected Mujahedeen members, but the United States as well.
She believes that, “US and NATO forces kill more Afghan civilians than the enemies of Afghan people do. Thousands of innocent Afghan women and children have been killed in the US/NATO operations”.
In 2016 Joya took a trip to Nangarhar province and she met with human rights’ defenders and women’s rights defenders, so I also able to meet with her. We talked about human rights’ conditions in Nangarhar. In general, she told me that, “My suffering people have been well and truly betrayed over the past 16 years by the US and allies. They were invaded and bombed in the name of democracy, human rights and women’s rights”.
That was the first time I met her and I was surprised. She is such a brave woman and always thinking about her nation. She believes that only Afghan people can change the current situation and bring the happiness for themselves. She has many fans in Afghanistan and around the world.
Joya was called “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” by the BBC. In 2010, Time Magazine placed Malalai Joya on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Foreign Policy Magazine listed Malalai Joya in its annual list of the top 100 Global thinkers. In 2011, the Guardian listed her among the top 100 women activists and campaigners.
Afghan Women and Violence
By Khamosh in Afghanistan
Selling of Women in Afghanistan: one of the worst types of violence
Violence against women is common in Afghanistan and it happens in every corner of the country — beating of women; announcing at the birth of a girl who she will marry; and not calling women by their names because they think it is shame to do so.
But selling of women is one of the worst types of violence, which mostly happens in the shinwari district of Nangarhar. Women are sold by their husbands, sons and fathers with their children or without their children. Nowadays, they don’t have a specific place for the sale women (which is called Mandi), so they sell their women in some houses or make deals between two men, and then, without the woman being aware, they give the sold woman to the other person.
Zar Babo is a widowed woman who currently lives in Nangarhar city. She said that her husband sold her other wife, whose name is Patina, and he had a plan to sale her also, but with the help and support of her parents’ family, she was able to get a divorce from him and move to Jalalabad city.
“Twenty-five years ago I married my husband. He had another wife also so one day he said to his other wife, by the name of Patina, let’s go to Ziarat (a holy place for some people). So she took her children moved with her husband, but we did not know that he already sold Patina with her kids. When I understood that he sold her, I immediately called my parents and my parents took me here.”
Another old woman by the name of Sanga, who is her neighbor, says, “I do not even have a male child. Then I got married to my husband which made a lot of problems to me later and after so much cruelty he tried to sell me, but I ran away from his home and now I live here Jalalabad. But I am so afraid that he will find me here and maybe he will kill me or sell me, but I cannot afford things.”
This is traditional culture in shinwari — when women get a bit older, men sell them and the men are proud of this action.
Human right defenders are working in secure areas, but they are not able to go to the unsecure places to document this kind of violence by evidence. There is a lack of opportunities and many challenges working for human and, especially, women’s rights. When human rights’ workers fight for women’s rights the people who are against the women rights call them infidels and try to kill them.
Violence Against Women: The story of a 19-year old woman (due to security risk we cannot mention her name):
My mother and father are dead. My eldest brother was taking care of me. When I was 19 years old he wanted me to get married to an old man who was 50 years old. I told him that I did not want to marry now and especially not with an old man, but he did not listen to me. In my absence and without my consent, he arranged a marriage with that old man.
During Nikah, the woman is asked if she agrees to the marriage or not, but in my case, no one came to me and no one asked me if I agreed to the marriage or not.
After the marriage, my brother sent me my husband’s house. I was very afraid and did not know what to do and how to start my new life. I had no plan and was not ready for this. I was there with him for five days but I did not let him touch me. He wanted to get close to me and so he started beating and threatening me.
This is just one of many similar stories found across Afghanistan.
Gender-based violence is a global issue which happens in every country in the world. But the intensity of violence is different in each country and for that, there are many reasons. Developing countries are divided into three categories.
Developed Countries: A country with a lot of industrial activity and where people generally have high incomes. The rate of violence against women in these countries is lower.
Developing Countries: A country with little industrial and economic activity and where people generally have low incomes. The rate of violence against women is higher than in Developed Countries and lower than in least-developed countries.
Least Developed Countries: A country that does not have a lot of industrial activity and where people have low or no incomes. Residents of these countries are not aware of their rights, especially women. This leads to higher rates of violence. Afghanistan is one of these countries — and the violence is very high, Women experience violence in many ways, from physical abuse to sexual assault and from financial abuse to sexual harassment or trafficking. Whatever form it takes, violence against women can have serious long-term physical and emotional effects.
In many parts of Afghanistan, like in the eastern region, women face many different forms of violence – violent extremism, poverty, illiteracy and inequality. There is a growing recognition by the government and international community that efforts to eliminate violence against women must involve not only government, but every individual, by acting and speaking out against violence in homes, workplaces and social settings. Afghanistan has one of the lowest female literacy rates in the world and access to education for young girls continues to be limited, perpetuating these low rates of illiteracy. Afghan women don’t know about their rights, so this limits their ability to obtain them. Men think women are their property and women are not allowed to do anything without their permission. Women can’t go outside without their elder’s (Father, Brother, Husband) permission. Even if they are sick they cannot go to a doctor. Most families do not let their daughters go to school after Class Six. Women are not able to select their life partner — their parents select their life partner for them. Often when they get Educating a girl is like educating the whole society and one of the famous quotes of Malala about education is that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the fate of the whole world”.married they are faced with a lot of violence.
We hope that the current situation will change as soon as possible, and women will have equal rights to men.
The CHALLENGES of EDUCATING GIRLS in AFGHANISTAN
By Khamosh in Afghanistan
Educating a girl is like educating the whole society and one of the famous quotes of Malala about education is that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the fate of the whole world”.
After decades of war and conflict in Afghanistan, the hope to live in peace is the top priority of our nation. It not only affects our country’s economic growth and prosperity, but also leaves a long-lasting spot in the life of the people.
Despite the more than 17 years and billions of dollars in foreign assistance provided to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, the international community’s efforts to help create a stable, democratic Afghanistan are in jeopardy. State security, governance, and justice institutions are unable to provide even basic services to much of the population. Sophisticated organized criminal networks, a culture of impunity for powerful commanders, and a growing Taliban insurgency combine to create an insecure environment, which in turn threatens to derail the country’s nascent experiment with constitutional democracy. As it did in the mid-1990s following Afghanistan’s brutal civil war, the Taliban has capitalized on the lack of good governance, justice, and security in many parts of the country by offering an alternative—albeit harsh—system to provide law and order.
The only important thing that will bring the Afghan nation from this darkness as to provide equal opportunity to both males and females in education. Unfortunately, the local customs and norms in many ethnic groups of the country do not allow their children to get an education, especially girls. The international communities are working hard in this regard in order to change the view of the people and to spread social awareness in societies and to show them the importance of education. The following are some the most prominent barriers in the way of girls receiving education.
- Education is one of the basic fundamental human rights and, according to international law, primary education should be free to each individual in society. It is opposite here in our country. There are a lot of costs associated with sending children to school. The cost of uniforms, textbooks or bus fare can be too much to bear for a family living in poverty. Too often, parents choose to keep their girls at home and send the boys to school instead.
- Girls may face various forms of violence at the hands of teachers, peers and other people in the school environment. Due to this, and the aforementioned problems, parents don’t allow their daughters to go to school.
- In many parts of our country, the distance to the school is one of the key issues, especially for girls. The nearest primary school to a particular community might be a four or five hour-long walk away. On top of that, girls may face dangers or violence on the long way to school; so many parents opt to keep their daughters at home and out of harm’s way.
- Poverty: the key issue in developing countries, people do not have access to food, clean water, shelter, and primary treatment. This is a big concern to all the parents. If they cannot feed their children to keep them healthy and sound, how can they will afford to send them to school?
- Threats from the Taliban and other insurgent groups are one of the main reasons for the deprivation of girls from education. Parents are scared even to allow their sons to go to school in those areas where the Taliban are in power.
- Due to local customs and norms, girls are often asked to live in the premises of the house and take care of their younger siblings and help their mothers cook and clean. Due to this, girls may not have the opportunity to attend school because their contributions to the household are valued more than their personal education.
- The main problem in our society is that girls are forced to marry young. They are often pulled out of school at a very critical age in their development. Education is very important for girls to gain the life skills they need to escape the cycle of poverty. But they are deprived from secondary education because of the problems parents face and because do not understand how to raise their children well.
The aforementioned issues are the salient features in the way of getting education for girls in Afghanistan. Educating a girl is like educating the whole society and one of the famous quotes of Malala about education is that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the fate of the whole world”. More work and focus is needed in order to get rid of these challenges.
Nangarhar Schools and Universities Face Security Threats
By Khamosh in Afghanistan
Nangarhar, in the east of Afghanistan with 22 districts, has one of the highest populations of any province in the country. The new generation of this province is thirsty to get an education and they hope to have a good future. They hope that some of them will become doctors; some want to become engineers, teachers, social workers etc.
But the enemies of this nation do not want their dreams to become real. Nearly all the armed groups have warned all schools, institutes and universities that they should close their doors. If any of them stay open, they say they will attack them. That is a big challenge for the education department. If they close their doors, it will be a tragedy for society and the nation.
During the recent annual exams in Nangarhar schools, due to security threats, they not able to get the final subject exams to students. And a few days later on 11 June 2018 ISIS attacked the Directorate of Education in Jalalabad. More than 10 people were injured in this attack, but security forces were able to kill all the attackers. One of the attackers blew himself up and two were shot dead by security forces. The attackers’ explosives-laden corolla was defused and security forces confiscated heavy and light weapons as well.
One month later on 11 July 2018 an armed group attacked the Department of Education in Jalalabad and at least 13 civilians were killed.
In the July attack on, most of the Education Department’s offices were burned, and an elderly man was shot and killed near an exterior wall, apparently while trying to flee. An employee whose body was soaked in blood still had a pen in one hand.
At least two employees were rescued by security forces.
“I was preparing the attendance when the shooting started,” said one, Afsar Khan. “I hid behind a desk and God saved me. They kept firing, and our staff kept crying and screaming.”
The private universities and institutes are also faced with high threats. Some days they open the universities and some days they are closed. All our people clearly feel this threat but they still go to school and university because they know that without education they will not have a good and bright future. It should be the government’s job to secure the educational environment.
Dramatic Election in Afghanistan (July 3, 2018)
By Khamosh 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 Khamosh 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:
- The armed groups are from other countries and are supported by other countries. They cannot make their own decisions.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
Most 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
“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.
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!Hu