Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Perspectives From Central Asia: Installment Four

More on public sentiments in Central Asia:

Kate Clark of Unreported World has reported that "five years after the fall of the Taliban, western intervention has produced a mafia-style state" in the northern part of the country.

Clark was far from the region where the Taliban are rising, but there she found "an economy dominated by the drugs trade." Those in power are the commanders from the days of the Northern Alliance. Now they are prominent in the police and in parliament, and some of them are accused of human rights abuses. "The father of a child killed in an attack on NATO Peace-keeping forces says civilians have no-one to turn to - commanders are powerful in the local administration and foreign peace-keepers are seen to be working with them." Clark interviews a local commander who claims that "senior members of the police force with links going up to the heart of the Kabul government" are in involved in the drug trade. He tells her that the local people are "re-arming themselves and selling weapons to their old enemies, the Taliban," because not only in opium but in weapons "serious money" can be made. She is shown "palaces" that "commanders and cabinet ministers have built on government land." She meets a woman, unnamed, who has "publicly criticized the warlords" and so has become "a magnet for those wanting to complain about abuses." The
young woman is, however, plagued by death threats. Such is the situation in late 2006.

Compare the hope that was expressed by a courageous young woman in 2004, Malalai Joya, in the face of threats in her time. Joya was at that time was running an orphanage and health clinic. "One woman's words defy might of Afghan warlords; Malalai Joya tells Hamida Ghafour of the threats she faces in a battle to end her country's violence"] She also was courageous, openly accusing the "warlords and criminals" of her area, Farah, of "drug trafficking, land seizures, rape, and looting of houses." Farah is a very different province of Afghanistan, and it is now at risk of being overrun by the new Taliban. Even in those days Joya was being threatened; her home had just been ransacked by soldiers. Even so, she had been able to persuade President Karzai to evict the sitting governor of Farah for criminal activity. "These people should be taken to court," she said. If not, she warned, "Those people will be in parliament and the country will revert to bloodshed. Maybe it will be me they kill, but there will be others whose voices will be louder than mine." The bloodshed she predicted seems to be coming true, but we wonder if there will really be others like her with the courage to speak out. Pray that she and others like her will have the courage to call a spade a spade in the face of the rising criminality of public officials.


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