Like a Rocket in the Garden

The Unending War in Afghanistan
People in the United States continue to pretend that the despair and futility we’ve caused isn’t our fault.

By Kathy Kelly

Late last week, I learned from young Afghan Peace Volunteer friends in Kabul that an insurgent group firing rockets into the city center hit the home of one volunteer’s relatives. Everyone inside was killed. Today, word arrived of two bomb blasts in the marketplace city of Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan, killing at least fourteen people and wounding forty-five.

These explosions have come on the heels of other recent attacks targeting civilians. On November 2, at least nineteen people were killed and at least twenty-two wounded by gunmen opening fire at Kabul University. On October 24, at least two dozen students died, and more than 100 were wounded in an attack on a tutoring center.

“The situation in our country is very bad and scary,” one young Afghan friend wrote to me. “We are all worried.” I imagine that’s an understatement.

new report released by Save the Children, regarding violations against children in war zones, says Afghanistan accounts for the most killing and maiming violations, with 874 children killed and 2,275 children maimed in 2019. 

Since the United Nations started collecting this data in 2005, more than 26,000 Afghan children have died. 

Under President Donald Trump, the United States signed a “peace” deal with the Taliban in February 2020. It pertains to troop withdrawal and a Taliban pledge to cut ties with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The agreement certainly hasn’t contributed toward a more peaceful life for Afghans, and a U.N. report indicates the Taliban has continued its ties with insurgent groups.

Now, Afghans face constant battles between insurgent groups, U.S. forces, Afghan government forces, NATO forces, various powerful Afghan warlords, and paramilitaries organized by ruthless mafias which control much of the drug industry and other profitable enterprises. 

Under President Biden, the United States would likely abide by Trump’s recent troop withdrawals, maintaining a troop presence of about 2,000. But Biden has indicated a preference for intensified Special Operations, surveillance and drone attacks. These strategies could cause the Taliban to nullify their agreement, prolonging the war through yet another presidency.

Mujib Mashal, a correspondent for The New York Times, was born in Kabul. When he was interviewed recently by one of his colleagues, he recalled being a little boy in the early 1990s, living through a civil war in Kabul, when rockets constantly bombarded his neighborhood.

Taliban groups were fighting various mujahideen. Mujib’s father cultivated a vegetable garden outside their home. One day, a rocket hit the garden, cutting an apple tree in half and burrowing deep into the ground.

But it didn’t explode. 

Mujib remembers how his father watered the area where the rocket hit, for years, hoping the bomb would eventually rust and never explode. Now he worries that Afghanistan is headed toward an explosion of violence.

“And the fear is that in that space of war, things only get more extreme,” he told the Times. “The violence only gets more extreme. The brutality gets more extreme. That if this slips into another generational conflict, what we’ve seen over the past forty years in terms of the brutality will probably pale in comparison to what will come.”

I recently watched a video of a talk given in June of this year by Dr. Zaher Wahab, an Afghan professor in Portland, Oregon, who laments the intensifying havoc and violence war is causing in Afghanistan. He and his wife lived there for six years, until about a year ago, when they concluded that the city was unlivable.

Dr. Wahab believes there is no military solution to Afghanistan’s woes and calls for the United States to demilitarize as soon as possible. But he also offers ways forward.

He urges forming a multinational trust fund to justly assist with reconstruction in Afghanistan, including efforts to clear mines and clean up unexploded ordnance. Billions of 

dollars would be needed, commensurate to the sums spent on funding the war. He believes the United Nations should form a peacekeeping presence in Afghanistan relying on non-NATO countries. 

The publication of the “Afghanistan papers” late last year highlighted the failure of the United States to accomplish any of its stated missions in Afghanistan. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, expressedhis astonishment over the “hubris and mendacity” he had witnessed on the part of  U.S. military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan. 

Despite its failures, the United States continues to bomb Afghan civilian areas. In 2019, the U.S. dropped 7,423 bombs and other munitions on Afghanistan. 

For Afghan civilians, ongoing war means continued  bereavement, displacement, and despair. Bereft of income or protection, many Afghan householders join militias, pledging their support and possibly their willingness to fight or even die. Hence the rise of the Afghan Local Police, numerous militias fighting for various warlords, the Afghan governments’ fighting forces, including “ghost soldiers” who appear in name only, CIA-trained paramilitaries, and military contractors working for NATO contingents.

Afghanistan is a cauldron waiting to explode.

U.S. Army Major Danny Sjursen, retired, notes that in the 2020 election, neither presidential candidate questioned status quo norms about U.S. foreign policy being based on threat, force, and killing. Sjursen assures that pressure to change must, necessarily, flow from the grass roots. 

The United States has landed in Afghanistan like a rocket in a garden. It refuses to rust, it poisons the Earth, and even U.S. voters can’t budge it. Normal life can’t continue with us there.

Meanwhile, an inevitably arriving Taliban-led government—one already in control of most of the country—is growing more fanatic and deadly.

Many U.S. voters, and too many Afghans, weren’t yet born when the current war was begun by the United States in 2001. Much of the U.S. public regards the Afghan people with deadly indifference.  

Year after year, President after President, Americans continue to pretend the despair and futility we’ve caused in Afghanistan isn’t our fault. We don’t hold ourselves accountable. 

But the forever wars, illegal and immoral, bankrupt our economy and our society as well. The military contractors become a sort of mafia. They are like a bomb in our garden, liable to explode.

And, unlike our Afghan counterparts, it’s not a bomb we can complain about. After all, we put it there.

Photo Exhibition – Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

Photo Exhibition

18 photographs taken on peace delegations to Kabul, a snapshot into the ordinary lives of Afghans, accompanied with informative text from the booklet.

Suitable for schools, colleges, peace centres, galleries, cafes.

This exhibition is part of a year long campaign to raise awareness around the last 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

The exhibition is available for hire or purchase from:

Donate to VCNV UK

or buy a booklet

The Co-operative Bank
Account: 65583025
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Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

What do Afghans think about elections and the current peace talks?

Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

A new publication by Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK
Stories and testimonies collected from some our visits to Afghanistan, giving a voice to women and young people, the very voices recent peace negotiations have excluded. The booklet includes essays on women, mining, deportation, the peace process, Britain and the Great Game, the case for US reparations, and moreover, the voices of ordinary Afghans.

Available from the 7th October
£5 plus P&P (payment details below)
ISBN: 078-1-9161961-0-0

See here for a review of the booklet. 

Remember Afghanistan: 18 years of war

VCNV UK News Update 2nd October 2019  
Next week marks 18 years of US/NATO war in Afghanistan, part of four decades of relentless war for a country in which recent UN based figures strongly indicate that “more civilians are killed or injured in Afghanistan due to armed conflict than anywhere else on Earth.” And the violence is getting worse. In only August 2019 “an average of 74 men, women and children were killed every day in Afghanistan throughout the month of August… 611 security incidents in which 2,307 people died.  A further 1,948 people were injured.” Reported by the BBC

Stalled peace negotiations
Nine rounds of US/ Taliban peace talks hit the wall earlier this month. The year-long peace negotiations have been dogged by the evident escalation of Taliban attacks on civilians. Trump halted dialogues on the 9th September after a US soldier was killed, saying “They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead”, he also announced that the US military intends to dramatically scale up attacks on the insurgents in Afghanistan. He added, at a joint White House press conference, that he could “end the war in a week but he would kill 10 million Afghans”.

The peace talks have generally lacked credibility as the Afghan Government were not included, and moreover women and young people were not given a meaningful voice at the table.

Flawed Elections
This week has seen the long-postponed presidential elections which saw Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah rival one another once again. Like before in the 2014 elections, both candidates have declared themselves the winners, even before final votes have been counted.

At least 30 security personnel and 10 civilians were killed on election day, and at least 40 security forces and 150 civilian wounded.

The elections saw a record low turn-out with the election commission so far counting 2.19 million votes from 3,736 of the country’s approximately 4,000 polling centres. Afghanistan’s total population stands at about 37 million, with just 9.6 million registered voters. Disillusionment about election candidates, electoral corruption and the eligibility criteria of biometrics (iris scanning and fingerprinting) are thought to be key reasons for voter apathy.

Drone strikes continue to kill civilians
19th September, Islamabad saw the deadliest ever drone strike upon civilians, 70 Afghan farmers were killed and injured in a US drone strike in Nangarhar province. Reports say 30 Afghan farmers were killed, while another 40 were injured after the labourers had spent the day picking pine nuts, and were sitting round a fire they had just lit. 

25th September, at least 40 civilians killed and 16 wounded attending a wedding were killed after Afghan military forces struck against a Taliban hideout in the building adjacent to the ceremony in Helmand. 
Women and young people
We continue to campaign for the voices of women and young people to be heard. They are the majority grouping of the population, and still their political influence is underrepresented and largely ignored by decision makers both in Afghanistan, the US and the UK. While British troops are still stationed, and working alongside the US in Afghanistan, we continue to shine a spotlight on this forgotten war, to ensure a meaningful peace.

Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

Photo Exhibition

18 photographs taken on peace delegations to Kabul, a snapshot into the ordinary lives of Afghans, accompanied with informative text from the booklet.

Suitable for schools, colleges, peace centres, galleries, cafes.

This exhibition is part of a year long campaign to raise awareness around the last 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

The exhibition is available for hire or purchase from:  

The Wounds of War in Afghanistan
September 27, 2019 Kathy Kelly

Recovering from a broken hip, peace activist Kathy Kelly reflects on her experiences with people disabled and traumatized by war.

Its economy gutted by war, Afghanistan’s largest cash crop remains opium. Yet farmers there do grow other crops for export. Villagers in the Wazir Tangi area of Nangarhar province, for example, cultivate pine nuts. As a precaution, this year at harvest time, village elders notified the governor of the province that they would be bringing in migrant workers to help them collect the nuts. Hired laborers, including children, would camp out in the pine nut forests, they informed the officials. They hoped their letter could persuade U.S. and ISIS forces, which had been fighting in or near their villages, not to attack.

Read more

Donate to VCNV UK

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Account: 65583025
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Reckoning and Reparations in Afghanistan

The U.S. government owes reparations to the civilians of Afghanistan for the past twenty years of war and brutal impoverishment.

by Kathy Kelly

July 15, 2021

Earlier this week, 100 Afghan families from Bamiyan, a rural province of central Afghanistan mainly populated by the Hazara ethnic minority, fled to Kabul. They feared Taliban militants would attack them in Bamiyan.

Over the past decade, I’ve gotten to know a grandmother who recalls fleeing Talib fighters in the 1990s, just after learning that her husband had been killed. Then, she was a young widow with five children, and for several agonizing months two of her sons were missing. I can only imagine the traumatized memories that spurred her to again flee her village today. She is part of the Hazara ethnic minority and hopes to protect her grandchildren. 

When it comes to inflicting miseries on innocent Afghan people, there’s plenty of blame to be shared.

The Taliban have demonstrated a pattern of anticipating people who might form opposition to their eventual rule and waging “pre-emptive” attacks against journalists, human rights activists, judicial officials, advocates for women’s rights, and minority groups such as the Hazara.

In places where Taliban have successfully taken over districts, they may be ruling over increasingly resentful populaces; people who have lost harvests, homes, and livestock are already coping with a third wave of COVID-19 and severe drought.

In many northern provinces, the re-emergence of the Taliban can be traced to the Afghan government’s incompetence, and also to criminal and abusive behaviors of the local military commanders, including land grabs, extortion, and rape.

President Ashraf Ghani, showing little empathy for people trying to flee Afghanistan, referred to those who leave as people looking to “have fun.”

Responding to his April 18 speech when he made this comment, a young woman whose sister, a journalist, was recently killed, tweeted about her father who had stayed in Afghanistan for seventy-four years, encouraged his children to stay, and now felt that his daughter might be alive had she left. The surviving daughter said the Afghan government couldn’t protect its people, and that’s why they tried to leave.

President Ghani’s government has encouraged the formation of “Uprising” militias to help protect the country. Immediately, people began questioning how the Afghan government could support new militias when it already lacks ammunition and protection for thousands of Afghan National Defense Forces and local police who have fled their posts.

The main backer of the Uprising Forces, it seems, is the formidable National Directorate of Security, whose main sponsor is the CIA.

Some militia groups have raised money through imposing “taxes” or outright extortion. Others turn to other countries in the region, all of which reinforces cycles of violence and despair.

The staggering loss of landmine removal experts working for the nonprofit HALO Trust should add to our sense of grief and mourning. About 2,600 Afghans working with the demining group had helped make more than 80 percent of Afghanistan’s land safe from unexploded ordnance strewn over the country after forty years of war. Tragically, militants attacked the group, killing ten workers. 

Human Rights Watch says the Afghan government has not adequately investigated the attack nor has it investigated the killings of journalists, human rights activists, clerics, and judicial workers that began escalating after the Afghan government began peace talks with the Taliban in April.

Yet, unquestionably, the warring party in Afghanistan with the most sophisticated weapons and seemingly endless access to funds has been the United States. Funds were spent not to lift Afghans to a place of security from which they might have worked to moderate Taliban rule, but to further frustrate them, beating down their hopes of future participatory governance with twenty years of war and brutal impoverishment. The war has been a prelude to the United States’ inevitable retreat and the return of a possibly more enraged and dysfunctional Taliban to rule over a shattered population.

The troop withdrawal negotiated by President Joe Biden and U.S. military officials is not a peace agreement. Rather, it signals the end of an occupation resulting from  an unlawful invasion, and while troops are leaving, the Biden Administration is already laying plans for “over the horizon” drone surveillance, drone strikes, and “manned” aircraft strikes which could exacerbate and prolong the war.

U.S. citizens ought to consider not only financial recompense for destruction caused by twenty years of war but also a commitment to dismantle the warfare systems that brought such havoc, chaos, bereavement, and displacement to Afghanistan.

We should be sorry that, during 2013, when the United States spent an average of $2 million per soldier, per year, stationed in Afghanistan, the number of Afghan children suffering malnutrition rose by 50 percent. At that same time, the cost of adding iodized salt to an Afghan child’s diet to help reduce risks of brain damage caused by hunger would have been 5 cents per child per year.

We should deeply regret that while the United States constructed sprawling military bases in Kabul, populations in refugee camps soared. During harsh winter months, people desperate for warmth in a Kabul refugee camp would burn—and then have to breathe—plastic. Trucks laden with food, fuel, water, and supplies constantly entered the U.S. military base immediately across the road from this camp.

We should acknowledge, with shame, that U.S. contractors signed deals to build hospitals and schools which were later determined to be ghost hospitals and ghost schools, places that never even existed.

On October 3, 2015, when only one hospital served vast numbers of people in the Kunduz province, the U.S. Air Force bombed the hospital at 15 minute intervals for one and a half hours, killing 42 people including 13 staff, three of whom were doctors. This attack helped greenlight the war crime of bombing hospitals all around the world.

More recently, in 2019, migrant workers in Nangarhar were attacked when a drone fired missiles into their overnight camp. The owner of a pine nut forest had hired the laborers, including children, to harvest the pine nuts, and he notified officials ahead of time, hoping to avoid any confusion. 30 of the workers were killed while they were resting after an exhausting day of work. Over 40 people were badly wounded. 

U.S. repentance for a regime of attacks by weaponized drones, conducted in Afghanistan and worldwide, along with sorrow for the countless civilians killed, should lead to deep appreciation for Daniel Hale, a drone whistleblower who exposed the widespread and indiscriminate murder of civilians. 

Between January 2012 and February 2013, according to an article in The Intercept, these air strikes “killed more than 200 people. Of those, only thirty-five were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.” 
Under the Espionage Act, Hale faces ten years in prison at his July 27 sentencing.

We should be sorry for night raids that terrified civilians, assassinated innocent people, and were later acknowledged to have been based on faulty information.

We must reckon with how little attention our elected officials ever paid to the quadrennial “Special Inspector General on Afghan Reconstruction” reports which detailed many years’ worth of fraud, corruption, human rights
violations and failure to achieve stated goals related to counter-narcotics or confronting corrupt structures.

We should say we’re sorry, we’re so very sorry, for pretending to stay in Afghanistan for humanitarian reasons, when, honestly, we understood next to nothing about humanitarian concerns of women and children in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s civilian population has repeatedly demanded peace. 

When I think of the generations in Afghanistan who have suffered through war, occupation and the vagaries of warlords, including NATO troops, I wish we could hear the sorrow of the grandmother who now wonders how she might help feed, shelter and protect her family.

Her sorrow should lead to atonement on the part of countries that invaded her land. Every one of those countries could arrange visas and support for each Afghan person who now wants to flee. A reckoning with the massive wreckage this grandmother and her loved ones face should yield equally massive readiness to abolish all wars, forever. 

A version of this article first appeared in The Progressive Magazine

Photo Caption: Girls and mothers, waiting for donations of heavy blankets, Kabul, 2018

Photo Credit: Dr. Hakim

Voices in Afghanistan say…

COVID-19, the vaccine roll-out and the future of government

‘Covid-19 has had a very bad effect on our community’

I got Covid-19. I lost my sense of taste, smell and my body became very weak for about 2 months. 

Nematullah Ahangosh
My mother was infected ten months ago. When winter arrived, my mother’s health got worse due to the burning of coal in my community. We had to take my mother to Pakistan where the weather is better during the winter. By some miracle, my mother is now able to walk. She is still recovering.

I could see how hard it was for everyone. My family stayed at home and couldn’t work and we didn’t know what to do. Our neighbours were saying that we will die of hunger before coronavirus gets to us … we were worried about food. After two months, they were saying we should go and find a bit of work to buy bread.

Abdul Ghafoor
The pandemic has made the poor even poorer than they were due to lack of support from the government and aid agencies. People could only stay in quarantine for short periods and had to get out of their homes to find a means of survival.

‘The vaccine has been stolen’

India is the only country so far that has donated supplies of vaccine. The vaccine program is very limited, and in contrast to other countries in the world, it’s mainly those in the government who receive the vaccine. I hardly know any common civilian who has been vaccinated. 

This vaccine distribution was very clearly meant for the people. Unfortunately here the vaccine is stolen by the powerful government.

Here the government doesn’t care about those who don’t have enough for their basic needs.

‘The government doesn’t know how to handle the situation in a better way.’

I’m not very optimistic about the vaccine program in Afghanistan for several reasons.
First, the current government does not help minorities. Ghani only helps his circle of favourite people. 
Second, the government does not know how or is unwilling to handle the situation in a better way. They might sell vaccines to the black market just like they did with the ventilators. 
Thirdly, recent clashes like this recent one in Behsud village in which a government helicopter was allegedly shot down by local guerrillas, create a climate of uncertainty and fear which makes roll out of the vaccine even harder. 

‘No less than a disaster’
A future government that includes Taliban would be no less than a disaster, but the current government under hasn’t left any reasons for the Afghans to love them either. Most people are so tired of Ghani’s policies, they would rather live under the Taliban than Ghani, not because they like the Taliban, but they might act much better than Ghani. Ghani has made discrimination and racism against certain ethnic groups systematic and therefore has promoted division among different ethnicities in Afghanistan.
I am not optimistic about that government since Taliban ideology [adheres very strictly] to religious and cultural norms that do not respect or care about democratic values nor consider women’s rights.
If the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, life will be very difficult for the people of Afghanistan, especially women and girls, I hope the world will hear our voice and we can have a democratic government.

‘Ghani’s government has failed to protect its citizens’
Ghani’s government has failed to protect its citizens. It is not capable of controlling the turmoil. Ghani has also made the situation worse. Every six months or so, he changes the positions of ministers, generals and other subordinates. He doesn’t have the support of the citizens.

Meanwhile, the Taliban continue their warfare. According to a recent survey of Pajwok News Agency, the Taliban control over 52% of the whole country. So, a future government that includes the Taliban is coming. It’s hard for me to trust either the current government or the future one which includes the Taliban, since both have targeted civilians. 

I think the future government should protect the rights of women, children and minorities. Otherwise, history will repeat itself once again and Afghanistan will come to fight another civil war.

Will drones really protect us?

Drugs, Surveillance & The War on Terror

By Maya Evans

Maya Evans on the seafront in Hastings. She is wearing sports clothes, kneeling on one knee, raising her left fist and holding a banner saying, 'Hastings welcomes refugees'
Maya Evans on the seafront in Hastings. She is kneeling on one knee and holding a banner saying, ‘Hastings welcomes refugees’

I’m seated in the police Zoom briefing with other council representatives for my small, seaside town, Hastings. The Chief Inspector is telling us about the crisis we have with soaring heroin addiction in the town. The recent surge is contributing to a general increase in crime. The next section of the briefing is about the future use of police surveillance drones, and how they could become useful in combatting crime.  

A few months ago, Nigel Farage arrived in Hastings to film himself on our tourist beaches, aiming to drum up hate and hostility toward migrants and refugees arriving in the UK, having just traversed the English Channel in precarious inflatables. Farage complains that the new arrivals are taking up hotel spaces. He triggers the public by saying it’s all coming out of the public purse, we can’t afford to look after our own citizens let alone refugees, and that these people will one day take their homes and jobs. The Home Office considers proposals to use watercannons on the migrant sea crossers, while Home Secretary, Priti Patel suggests the transportation of migrants and refugees to Ascension Island in the South Pacific, harking back to the 18thcentury, when Britain deported convicts to the penal colony of Australia. 

The British Army Watchkeeper drone has been commissioned to help with surveillance of people crossing the Channel. The Watchkeeper was initially developed when the British military requested £1 billion to develop a military drone. An Israeli arms company, Elbit Systems, was awarded the contract to design and develop the drone. When completed in 2014, it was transported to Afghanistan for ‘field testing’.

Was a ‘field testing’ in Afghanistan part of the tragic mistake made when a U.S. weaponized drone killed my friend Raz Mohammed’s brother-in-law and five of his friends? The young men were enjoying an early evening gathering in their orchard in Wardak province Afghanistan. All the men were unarmed, none of them were involved with the Taliban. Their instant deaths were the result of a ‘signature strike’ – a targeted killing based on racial profiling, the men ‘fitted’ the demographic of the Taliban – they were wearing Pashtoon clothing, in a Pashtoon village, men of fighting age – that was enough to get them killed.

Our local Chief Inspector finishes talking about police surveillance drones. At present, in my area of  Sussex, they are mainly using surveillance drones for traffic and ‘operations’, though elsewhere in the UK they have so far been used to survey a Black Lives Matter protest and another at an immigration centre.  Knowing how I would come across to others in the Zoom room, I decided to take the risk of sounding like a ‘conspiracy loon’ and plunged in – I highlighted the military method of ‘racial profiling’ during surveillance and targeted assassinations, how the US police have started using drones armed with non-lethal weapons (tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets) against their own civilians, often anti-war, environmental and anti-racist protestors. The chief inspector was a little taken aback but quickly started to respond that British police were not like the military or the US police, that drones are really useful for helping lost people on mountain tops, and that having a drone operator walking around town, while flying a surveillance drone, would be great for community engagement. 

I suddenly recollect a fight which broke out in our town centre and wonder how a drone would have helped. Some sort of argument had arisen amongst the ‘street community’, a mixture of people who gravitate on the street to drink, to buy or take heroin and crack, or wait for their methadone subscription from the local rehab centre based above an arcade of shops which shadows the street community and the raucous outbreak. Shoppers walked past, some looking at the commotion, others head down, not wanting to inadvertently get dragged into a drug fueled hullabaloo. A young woman, weathered skin, tattered clothing, decaying teeth, aged beyond her years screams obscenities at another member of the community. Her gaunt face reminded me of the heroin addicts I have seen in Kabul, the people who live under a bridge, huddled in small groups, heads under a scarf as they cook up opium on a spoon. Their eyes are distant – friends and family say they are gone.   

Heroin addiction in impoverished British towns has soared in the last 10 years. At the crime briefings I attend as a Councillor, no one ever talks about where this cheap high-quality opium has flooded in from, the root cause probably considered ‘too political’. But in reality, heroin supply to Britain has careened in the last decade, namely due to the ‘solar revolution’ in Afghanistan. This has enabled farmers to use electricity generated from solar panels to pump untapped water from 100 meters under the desert. Now, where there was once an arid dust belt, there are now fields of thriving poppy, punches of colour lighting up the desert, too much of a lucrative cash crop for Afghan farmers to pass up. 

Many of the newly blooming fields are in Helmand, the Afghan province where Britain was assigned to fight the Taliban. Britain was also delegated, at the 2001 International Bonn Conference on Afghanistan, the responsibility of counter narcotics in Afghanistan. Considering Afghanistan was the first country in the world where weaponized drones were used – the 2001 unsuccessful assassination of Osama Bin Laden – and there after used as a “playground for foreign nations to kill Afghans like a video game” – as one of my young Afghan friends once described to me; it’s highly unlikely British Intelligence Agencies were unaware of the newly blossoming industry, much of which is growing in Helmand, a ‘hotspot’ for drone strikes and aerial surveillance. Today Afghanistan produces 90% of the worlds’ heroin, 3% of the Afghan population are addicts, and production of the crop has more than doubled, from 3,700 tonnes in 2012, to 9,000 tonnes in 2017. 

And so, in my home town, deprivation, crime, conflict and all the ills associated deepen. Drones are sent in to ‘solve’ the problem. To date, at least 40 UK police forces have either purchased a drone or have access to using one. In the area of Sussex and Surrey, there are 23 drones and, according to a recent Freedom of Information, they were used 108 times between January- June 2020.

Afghans are amongst the refugees washed up upon our beaches in flimsy dinghies, their channel crossing overseen by the very same Watchkeeper drone used to exacerbate war which drove them from their homeland. The most vulnerable in our society, from Britain to Afghanistan, are seized by the scourge of heroin and the conflagration of violence caused by war. The vaunted “eyes in the skies,” the surveillance drones, won’t help us understand these realities. The proliferation of weaponized drones will unleash more misery.

Momentum for campaigns to ban land mines, cluster bombs and nuclear weapons began with grassroots efforts to tell the truth about militarism and war. I hope a surveillance drone will get the message painted on large banners we’ve held, standing along our seacoast, proclaiming a welcome for refugees and a longing for peace.

Climate Change & Permaculture in Afghanistan

While in Kabul Rosemary Morrow explained her urgent mission:

“It’s important for lots of social reasons, it’s something which can bring people together quickly under the pressures of conflict. It’s about building a future, every time you plant a tree you are building an improved future. It’s especially important in the potential scenario of the city laid to siege, cut off from food imports, it’s essential people have the skills to survive. At the moment Kabul doesnt have permaculture at all, and it’s a highly polluted environment. My course in Kabul is about teaching people to a high level and with interaction, for example I plan to visit the very polluted local river and explore ideas of what we can do there.”
Gardens of Sanctuary 
A Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK Project with Anna Locke View this email in your browser Inspired by the Afghan Peace Volunteers and their desire to learn permaculture techniques, we have teamed up with esteemed UK permaculture practitioner Anna Locke to launch the
Gardens of Sanctuary Project.

We invite groups of all description to take part in this interactive and inclusive project to raise awareness around the wars in which many refugees living in the UK have fled. It involves working with refugees on a relaxing and therapeutic activity which will have excellent outcomes by way of beautiful permaculture gardens and a space to convalesce.

Last year the Afghan Peace Volunteers received an intense 18 day course by expert (and famous) permaculture practitioner Rosemary Morrow. She travelled to Kabul to work with 31 teenagers, teaching them how to design, plant and grow a permaculture garden.

Permaculture is an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

Today, Kabul is one of the most polluted cities in the world, every year 3,000 people in the city die due to pollution induced illnesses such as respiratory diseases, allergies, miscarriages and cancer. The biggest culprits are the 900,000 vehicles, 80% of which are older than 10 years and lack catalytic converters. In addition, Afghanistan imports low quality “dirty fuel” and relies on generators for electricity. A city built for 500,000 people is now home to some 5 million as refugees pour into the city to escape the ongoing military fighting in the provinces. Kabul is the only capital city in the world which doesn’t have a sewage system producing 2,000 tons of solid waste per day.

While in Kabul Rosemary Morrow explained her urgent mission:
“It’s important for lots of social reasons, it’s something which can bring people together quickly under the pressures of conflict. It’s about building a future, every time you plant a tree you are building an improved future. It’s especially important in the potential scenario of the city laid to siege, cut off from food imports, it’s essential people have the skills to survive. At the moment Kabul doesnt have permaculture at all, and it’s a highly polluted environment. My course in Kabul is about teaching people to a high level and with interaction, for example I plan to visit the very polluted local river and explore ideas of what we can do there.”

The local river is more of a mountain range of rubbish with a thick grey murky sludge working its way through the valleys of trash. Due to climate change Afghanistan is facing a water crisis, especially in the years when the snows fail to come. Today only 27% of Afghans have access to clean water, while the water table in Kabul has dropped 10 metres in the last few years. 

Rosemary added: “Learning how to use grey water could be life changing, that will be a major theme, clean food for Kabul, did you know spirulina can be grown on human urine?”

Today, members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers now visit refugee camps in Kabul and teach permaculture. Gardens of Sanctuary is in solidarity with all refugees who have been displaced from their homes, those who can’t access food and clean water, those facing an environmental crisis and those in need of sanctuary.

Gardens of Sanctuary is being launched to coincide with the Nao Roz (Persian New Year) and will be piloted this spring in the town of St Leonards-on-Sea. If any other groups  would like to take part then please contact us.

The original layout and plant lists have been inspired by the splendid Babur Gardens in Kabul, a classic Persian style garden built in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur.

The Kabul gardens are now often used by courting couples who sit within the rose gardens or under fruit trees reciting Persian poetry.

This conceptual design replicates the symmetry found in Persian Gardens and uses classic fruit trees found in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
A plant guild is made up of different plants with different roles. This is a beautiful concept  in permaculture, it is where you create a self supporting micro-community of plants around a fruit tree.  This is particularly pertinent for young trees as they are establishing, and is a wonderful analogy for people trying to put their roots down in new places. 


See here for the full Gardens of Sanctuary design.

Letter from India…

(Written by a female member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers while on a permaculture course in India)  

I see myself fortunate to come here and have the experience of all those lessons in activities in the Arayna Farm.

In Arayna Farm I see people who has love and friendship with Mother Nature. Everything which has been taken from earth is restored back, no wasting water, soils are nutrient and fertilized with organic matters, and never used chemical fertilizer. Every kind of trees and plants are cultivated, no one uses plastic bags, and 95% of kitchen vegetables are from the farm. They have seeds bank and had kept seeds of all plants in the bank. For keeping the moisture of soils, they use the leaves, branches and plants, different birds are living in the farms, which are lovely when they sing a song in the dawn.

NOW, I am much confident in the power of women because the women in India do the 90% of permaculture work.

With seeing this permaculture land now, I am encouraged to work in this area and want to be the first youth in Afghanistan who makes the first farm of permaculture. In addition, I want to be an encouragement of other youth to do permaculture work and with this work, they would understand that the best way for keeping the nature alive is the permaculture method.

It very good the APVs could be in contact with Padma and Narsanna and they could be a good friend of APVs.

Once they told me, they like to visit APVs and APVs could really have them as visitor.

They gave me two books about Compost method, saving water and irritating method and hope the books to translate and use in the Institute.

I want to bring some seeds from the form and we will start collecting seeds because it is very hard to find pure seeds of plants in Afghanistan.

Permaculture in Afghanistan

A permaculture principle : working with nature, not against it

From the 10th of February 2018 to the 3rd of March 2018, Australian permaculture expert Rosemary Morrow brought 31 Afghans through the second 18 –day Permaculture Design Course organized by the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul.
“In Australia, the bird-songs are my wake-up call. Here in Kabul, there are just too few birds,” commented Rowe, our permaculture teacher. Through face masks, we can still smell the biting smoke and poison in the air and sewerage-waste water, and in the grey phlegm we cough and spit out into the sink every evening. “The soil is exhausted, dry and starving,” Rowe remarked during the Permaculture Design Course, “so we have to repair the soil. We have no choice, if we wish to survive.”
“You mean, industrial agriculture is eroding the soils?” “You mean, we are harming ourselves?” the permaculture design course participants asked incredulously. How did we go ‘off-course’? Who convinced us to take our eyes off the natural blues and greens, to believe in the killer chemical toxins we produce? What made us prefer touching rectangularish digital screens to touching tendrils, petals and bark? What allowed paper or metallic money, ultimately, imaginary money, to inflate our egos so much we forgot to revere the earth? Instead, we cut down our oxygen, our carbon sinks and rain-makers. Without so much as a pause, we cut down our lives.

We’re all students of Mother Earth and Nature

When Afghans, or any human being, are forced to tether on the edge, they cling to the air, they lose their balance and direction, and, on bad days, which are overly usual, I lose it with them. However, what if we allowed ourselves to fall in love with the soil? What if we desired to make the trees smile, and the leaves to shimmer? Wouldn’t Mother Nature restore our breathing, calm our frayed emotions, and court the missing birds who will wake us up?

When Rowe returned from taking a taxi-view of a few refugee camps, her eyes had the sorrow of a thousand years, an indignant disgust at what all politicians are doing or not doing. She shook her head as if to hide her trembling, “Oh, the children, the children…” I could tell she was not about to cry openly, in the same way I try to cope with my daily sense of loss. I sometimes imagine storing those tears in a reservoir, only that, in Afghanistan’s deserts, the droplets would scatter and dissipate. We have no choice, if we wish to survive.”

Simple soil analysis revealed weakened Kabul soil Inaam the young permaculture designer being affirmed by Rowe
Inaam drew a big yellow-and-black bee, and placed its hive next to his vegetable garden, the hive’s face opening its wax and honey to the hydrogen-helium sun. He designed a rain-harvesting system from the roof, while aware of the Afghan crises of drought and  falling water-tables. He pictured himself teasing the chickens as they provided manure while pecking at grubs and insects. I could see the garden in his mind, and was sure that it would be better to take boring school lessons out of his brightly-lit brain, and water his imagination into self-schooling. There, in his and our change of understanding, life would grow to feed all.

Learning from Nature to design healthy ecosystems and meet the needs of all

Invite the birds back to Kabul!

Photo Essay by Dr Hakim
Repairing our decayed soil, air water & food.

Afghan Flood Appeal 

As of 5 March, nine provinces in Afghanistan have been affected by heavy rains and flooding. More than 40 people are known to have died, and hundreds of others have been injured or are missing. More than 2,500 houses have been damaged and over 1,300 destroyed. Flood affected people are in need of emergency shelter, warm clothing, food and hygiene kits. Almost 5,000 people have been displaced and 1,200 houses have been damaged or destroyed.  
In response to that, we are conducting relief operations to ensure disaster victims receive the resources that are needed most. Other charity organisations also work on the ground, and our association also wants to play its effective role in support of relief efforts currently underway. The goal is to help as many people and as quickly as possible. In order to accomplish this urgent mission efficiently and effectively, we are relying on your generous monetary donations. The donated money will be used to provide food, medicine and other necessary items and to contribute to prevent the outbreak of diseases and escalation of the current situation.    
As you know, monetary donations are critically important in the aftermath of all disasters because they can be used quickly to purchase exactly what is needed to support affected people and strengthen the recovery effort. Even a small amount can make a huge difference and impact.

On behalf of the victims, we greatly appreciate your generosity and support.   Kind regards, Association of Afghan Healthcare Professionals-UK Website:        
Registered charity no. 1150024


Where’s the voice of the Afghan people?

Hamid Karzai, a former president of Afghanistan, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of political office of the Taliban, once bitter enemies, now attend peace talks in Moscow – but how much do they represent the Afghan people of today?
Where’s the voice of the Afghan people?
by Maya Evans
20th February 2019

A new round of Afghan peace talks has been underway first in Doha, Qatar, and then in Moscow, Russia; respectively between the Taliban and the US Government, and then between Afghan politicians and the Taliban. Amid the analysis and comments most are talking about how the Afghan Government have been left out of talks, and how realistic are Taliban demands for all US troops to be withdrawn in exchange for a Taliban promise that they will never again harbour terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. While it’s interesting to muse over what a peace agreement between groups which have been at loggerheads for nearly four decades might look like, few are asking:
“Where’s the voice of the Afghan people?”

Women and young people
Today, Afghan women and youth combined make up the majority of the Afghan population. But neither the older generation of Talibs, the US appointed special reconciliation envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, nor the Afghan politicians (all older men) represent the experience or perspective of an average Afghan. It’s hard to see where the interests of ordinary Afghans at the tail end of four decades of war and violence, are being represented. In fact, of the fifty Afghan delegates attending the talks in Moscow, only two were women.

Afghan women’s groups are voicing their grave concerns and worries as their rights are being glossed over and potentially sacrificed for a peace deal being forged in the interest of the US Trump administration’s will to withdraw their military from Afghanistan. Women’s greatest fear is that the Taliban regime of the nineteen-nineties will be re-installed with all the horrors for women that that entailed. Afghan women’s rights groups are demanding as an absolute minimum a written statement by the Taliban agreeing equality and rights for women.

The talks between historically misogynistic warring groups already seem disingenuous as the Taliban continue to carry out violent attacks across the country, the last being only a few days ago with 20 border police killed in Southern Kandahar by Taliban.

Afghan women
As in all war-torn countries, women and children suffer disproportionately. Afghanistan is still ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman.

An estimated two thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school, 87% of Afghan women are illiterate, while 70-80% face forced marriage often in their early teens.

Last September a watchdog report called the USAID’s $280 million ‘Promote’ program – which was the largest single investment that the U.S. government has ever made to advance women’s rights globally – a flop and a “waste of taxpayer’s money”. While according to the Afghan Government, in 2014, 80% of the suicides were women.

The Afghan Government
And what about the Afghan Government who have up to now been excluded from peace talks? Just last week President Ashraf Afghani was in Munich and talked about the importance of including the Afghan people in peace negotiations, saying: “Peace needs to be citizen-centered, not elite-centered”, but he fudged the issue of women merely saying that they will attend a national debate. In practice his administration like all those before have failed to take responsibility for implementing and protecting women’s rights.
This time last year Afghanistan passed into law a new criminal code that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) hailed as a milestone in the country’s criminal justice reform. However, one chapter of the code was removed before it was passed: the chapter penalizing violence against women, including marital rape.

In 2015, 27-year-old Farkhunda Malikzada was beaten to death by a mob in Kabul after being falsely accused of burning the Quran. The government did little to bring about justice and ignored demands for more action to combat violence against women.

Where is the love?
On Valentine’s day 23 year old poet and student Mazhar read his poem in a small auditorium at Kabul University as an emblem of dissent:

Every step, every destination, I love you.
To spite the murderous traditions, I love you.
You are pious, your kisses are your prayer.
You are different, your kisses are your protest.
You are not afraid of love, of hope, of tomorrow.
I kiss you amid the Taliban, you are not afraid!
Expecting a shoe to be thrown at his head by fellow students he also delivered this message; that the mostly older leaders who sat with the Taliban in Moscow did not represent the values that shaped his generation. His classmates greeted him with applause.

In the last 18 years young urban Afghans have grown up with a degree of education and freedom of expression, something they very much fear will be lost with these peace talks going the way they are.

If meaningful peace is to succeed in Afghanistan it must include the voices and interests of the people, and at the moment women and young people together are the majority.

Young Afghans at the Borderfree Peace Centre discuss what it takes to bring peace

What it really takes to secure peace in Afghanistan
 by Kathy Kelly
(writing from Kabul)

13th February 2019

 Constant military surveillance of Afghans yields almost no real intelligence about the problems they face each day. An unusual group of volunteers uses a far different approach. 

Hossein, a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APV), which hosted my recent visit to Afghanistan, rolled up his sleeve to show me a still-healing three-inch wound. Thieves had broken into his family home in Kabul. When they were discovered, one of the robbers stabbed Hossein.
An APV coordinator, Zekerullah, was robbed and beaten by assailants in broad daylight. Ata Khan lost his camera and mobile phone to a gang of young thieves who accosted him and eight other people in a public park during the daytime.
Habib, a recent young graduate of the APV Street Kids School program, suffered blows from several attackers a month ago.“I didn’t have anything they wanted to take,” he said, assuring me he is OK even though his lower back, where they beat him, is still sore.

Read more

Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK in 2019
In this coming year Voices UK will be focusing on the following campaigns:
– Stop deportation to Afghanistan. 
– Economic justice for Afghanistan instead of further billions spent on military operations, reparations to grassroots organisations, as well stop the plunder of Afghan raw materials by foreign countries.
– Building a peace movement with the Afghan diaspora. 
– Withdrawal of UK troops.

VCNV UK will soon be setting off to Kabul to be in solidarity with the Afghan Peace Volunteers.
Themes we will be exploring this trip include:
– This month is the 30 year anniversary of Russia withdrawing.
– Women and young people combined make up the majority of Afghans today.

Mary Dobbing and Maya Evans attending an ACAA organised event in Parliament focusing on Afghan women. It was exciting to meet so many young and engaged Afghans.

Please continue to support our work
Donate or set up a standing order:
The Cooperative Bank
Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK
Account: 65583025
Sort Code: 089299

Fly Kites Not Drones 21st March 2019
Organise an event in your area around the Persian New Year to show solidarity with young people living under the threat of drones
@KitesNotDrones #FlyKitesNotDrones
Today killer drones are still reaping fear and violence over Afghanistan
In Syria 27% of British air strikes in Syria were drone strikes in 2018 alone, there were 75 strikes in December alone.
Join this simple but fun action to raise awareness about the impact of drones.

Remember Afghanistan: 17 Years #Enough

This Sunday will mark the 17 year anniversary of a UK backed war on Afghanistan.

What has been achieved?

– At least 217,000 Afghans have been killed
– An average of 28 Afghan civilians are killed or injured everyday
3,546 foreign troops have been killed, 456 of which were British
– It’s estimated that the UK has spent £40bn, and the USA $2tn
– The Taliban currently threaten 70% of the country
– The Afghan Government is made up of warlords 
1 million Afghans are now addicted to opium
1.2 million are internally displaced
1.2 million Afghan children are engaged in ‘hard labour’
– Only 27% of Afghans can access clean water
– Afghanistan is still one of the most dangerous places in the world
– The list could go on….

VCNV is still working in solidarity with Afghan peace activists who are now demanding a ceasefire and a withdrawal of foreign troops.Please join us this weekend in taking part in some simple but poignant actions to remember Afghanistan.

In solidarity, Mary & Maya
Join Mary Dobbing (VCNV) with Stop the War at Downing Street, Friday 5th October 5pm, to hand in a letter demanding a withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan and an end to British support of the war.

Join Maya Evans 5th October 6pm Oxford, New Road Baptist Church for a talk on global U.S. bases


USAF Croughton

6th October 12-4pm

Keep Space for Peace
Organise a surgery appointment with your MP and ask: 
· Why has the UK Government deployed 1,000 additional British troops to Afghanistan?
·  Would they support to end UK involvement?
·  As the UK has already spent at least £40 billion on war in Afghanistan, could future allocated money instead be spent on reparations? 
·  Would they sign the petition?
Download the petition

End the War in Afghanistan
Rethinking the Institution of War
by Dr Hakim in Kabul

Their action of walking without shoes suggest to us that, for us to survive today’s militarized and profit-driven norms, we have to live each day differently, and with clarity and compassion.We’ve been thinking that we need armies to stop ‘terrorists’, but armies don’t stop ‘terrorists’. Instead, they give ‘terrorists’ reason to keep fighting.We need to think anew.Moreover, the roots of ‘terrorism’ lie within ourselves. We are our own source of wars.Iqbal Khyber, a representative of PPM, told the Afghan Peace Volunteers ( APVs ) about how violence has taken root in all of us. “A blind member of our group, Zindani ( a name he gave himself after he was blinded by a Taliban-planted roadside bomb, meaning ‘imprisoned’ ) had so much pain in him that, one evening, when we were camped outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, he pleaded with me, ‘Can I throw a pebble at the fence?’ ”

Read more…

Afghan Peace Volunteers meet The People’s Peace Movement
– photos by Dr Hakim
Chalk or read the names of Afghan war dead
This represents just a few names collected in 2008/9 by Professor Marc Herold, however his database is no longer online. It is still unknown how many Afghans have been killed in the last 17 years, 217,000 is a conservative estimate.

Faiz Mohammad, 79,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008.

Allahdad, 10,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Shah Wali,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Ahmad Shah, 14,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Haji Saleh,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008.

Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Janan, 11,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008.

Mohammad Wali, 7,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Saeed Rasul, 50,
Killed in Do’ab district, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on 6 April 2008

Rahmatullah, 45,
Killed in Do’ab district, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on 6 April 2008

Shahnaz, 11,
Killed by US airstrikes while part of a double wedding procession on the way to one of the groom’s houses in the village of Ka Chona, Nangarhar Province, on 6 July 2008.

Badam, son of Saeed Hanif
Killed in a night-time U.S. air and ground attack in the Garoch region of Laghman Province, on Saturday, October 18, 2008

Killed by ground fire from foreign forces in the Khwaja Gar area of the Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on on January 2, 2009

Haji Sardar
Killed along with seven of his family members in a U.S air and ground attack in the Sahak area of Zormat district, Paktia Province. December 2008.

Shekh Anwar, family father
Killed, along with his wife and infant son, in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009.

Sheri Ali
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Torgul, son of Mohammad Masom
Killed, along with two of his siblings, in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Feda Mohammad, son of Akam Khan
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Abdullah, son of Akam Khan
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Haji Dastangul, family grandfather
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Basgul, wife of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009
 Mohammada Gul, son of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Sayeda Gul, son of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Denar Gul, grandson of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Amir Painda, tribal leader
Killed by U.S. forces’ ground fire near Orgun-e in Paktika Province on January 31, 2009

Haji Abdul Qadoos
Killed, along with 3 children and two women, in a U.S. air strike called-in by Polish occupation forces on 1 February 2009 in Ghazni Province.

Abdul Rauf
Killed in a U.S. air strike called-in by Polish occupation forces on 1 February 2009 in Ghazni Province.

Qabol Khan, a middle  school principal
Killed by US ground forces during the evening of February 6/7 2009, in the Khabidi area of Khost city, Khost Province.

Abdul Khaliq, father
Killed in a ground raid by US forces on night of February 20/21, 2008 in the village of Deh Naw, Logar Province.

Abdul Rashid, a father
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Abdul Shakir, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Abdul Nasir, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Abdul Qadir, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.
Abdul Latif, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Nadia, 17, daughter of Awal Khan
Killed by U.S. occupation forces in a night-time assault on hamlet of Ali Daya in Gorbaz (Gurbuz) district on 9 April 2009

Aimal, 15, son of Awal Khan
Killed by U.S. occupation forces in a night-time assault on hamlet of Ali Daya in Gorbaz (Gurbuz) district on 9 April 2009

Safia, a girl aged 3
Killed, alongside a woman, a boy and three adult men during a  midnight “precision” U.S air strike on Tangar village, Watapur district of Kunar Province on 12 / 13 April 2009

Zia-ul-Haq, 35, son of Haji Abdul Wahid
Killed with his wife and driver by a helicopter attack in northern Helmand on 17 April 2009

Malem Mohammad Nader, 55
Killed and wounded in a combined air & ground attack in Helmand province on 27 April 2009.

Mohammad Musa Khan, 60
Killed and wounded in a combined air & ground attack in Helmand province on 27 April 2009.

Behnooshahr, a girl, aged 12
Killed by ground fire from Italian forces in Heart province on 3 May 2009
The coffin of Lance Corporal David Dennis is carried during a repatriation ceremony at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, southern England July 10, 2009. The bodies of five soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Lance Corporal David Dennis, Trooper Christopher Whiteside, Private Robert Laws, Captain Ben Babington-Browne, and Lance Corporal Dane Elson were repatriated.
REUTERS/Ministry of Defence/Crown Copyright/Adrian Harlen/Handout
Chalk or read the names of British war dead

Full list found here

17 years of war on Afghanistan – Let’s take ACTION!

Street kids protest in Kabul, photo by Dr Hakim
While Britain deploys an additional 1,000 troops in Afghanistan,
Afghan peace activists rally and organise for self determination

Afghan Activists Rising 

October 7th marks the 17 year anniversary of the US and Coalition forces’ invasion of Afghanistan which was triggered by the 9/11 attack on New York only a month before. It’s a war few predicted, it’s a war even fewer realise is still ongoing, it’s a war which started when many of the soldiers who are signing up today weren’t even born.

To date, 3,546 US/NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, 456 of which were British, while a conservative estimate calculates 217,000 Afghans have died as a direct result of fighting, that figure can be at least tripled when taking into account indirect deaths caused by war, like not being able to access health care. Despite well publicised ‘draw downs’ of troops by the US and UK, and proclamations of ‘mission complete’ by David Cameron in 2014, the troops are still there. The UK Government has recently deployed over 1,000 further British soldiers to Afghanistan, and is calculated to have spent £40 billion by the 2014 ‘draw-down’. 

In October 2014 Defence Secretary David Fallon said: “Mistakes were made militarily, mistakes were made by the politicians at the time and this goes back 10, 13 years… We’re not going to send combat troops back into Afghanistan, under any circumstances.” 

More recently U.K. ambassador for Afghanistan Sir Nicholas Kay, while speaking on how to resolve conflict in Afghanistan, said: “I don’t have the answer.” Indeed, neither US or NATO have a stated plan for the future of Afghanistan. 

British troops are now joining 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, plus some 6,000 other NATO troops, 1,000 mercenaries, and another 26,000 contractors. That’s 48,000 people engaged in a foreign occupation of a country 17 years after the accomplishment of their stated mission to overthrow the Taliban government.  

Last year £49billion in British taxes were spent on defence, meanwhile councils up and down the country go bankrupt or borrow millions just to stay afloat. The public sector faces a crisis with the NHS being stripped to the bone, and the education of our children is being sold off to largely failing Academies. The wisdom learnt over the last 17 years shows us that wars do not work for us or the countries they are being waged against, they only create further violence, some of which gets directed back at the UK in the form of terrorist attacks against our own civilians.  

During each of the past 17 years, Afghanistan has continued its descent into poverty, violence, environmental degradation, and instability. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world, and one of the most dangerous. A UNAMA report published in July 2018 described fatality rates in the first six months of 2018 as being “the bloodiest on record” at an average rate of 28 Afghan civilians killed or injured every day.

While a power struggle plays out between the US/NATO Coalition military, the Taliban, ISKP (Daesh) and the Afghan Government, not to mention shadowy interference from elements in Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China, civil society groups are taking matters into their own hands. People are coming together and organising peace walks, they’re fasting outside of foreign embassies and government buildings, some have even headed to the hills to negotiate peace with the Taliban.

In June women and girls in Helmand welcomed the Taliban with flowers with the message to extend the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire. The Taliban did not respond to the request, but the audacious move by women represents the strength and determination of Afghan people, even more so that the protestors were women who potentially risk death for such a bold move. 

Acts of civil disobedience are springing up across the country, after the attack on the education centre in Kabul last month, villagers in Bamiyan gathered together and undertook a fast. Afghan protest has one thing in common, ceasefire and a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan Government.

Here in Britain we want to support the initiatives by Afghans seeking peace, we want to encourage the self determination of Afghans who are striving for a peaceful future. We demand that the UK Government withdraw their military and do everything in its power to bring stability and peace. We urge that any further UK resources allocated to Afghanistan be spent on desperately required aid, shelter and agricultural equipment for Afghans, we ask for economic justice for Afghanistan, for example foreign workers should pay their taxes in the country, produce from Afghanistan should be fairly traded, money should be kept within the country instead of it largely flowing out.

Article by Maya Evans 

Take action in your community

Hold a stall in your town centre
Sunday 7th October
Download the petition to end the war in Afghanistan
– Chalk the names of the British and Afghan war dead.

Organise an event in your area
During October
– Invite an Afghan to talk about their experiences 
– Bring an Afghan dish party
Afghan poetry night

Order your Afghan solidarity blue scarves
Blue represent the colour of the beautiful blue Afghan skies, it symbolises the idea that all humans live under the same blue sky & we should live in a world without borders.

*Special Offer*
10 blue scarves made by Afghan Peace Activists 
‘Borderfree’ embroidered in English & Dari
only £50 (plus P&P)

Blue Scarf March
Hold a peace walk in your area, for example walk from your war memorial to a civic building. 
Wear the blue scarves and carry placards of remembrance. 

Organise a surgery appointment with your MP and ask: 
·      Why has the UK Government deployed more British troops to Afghanistan?
·      Would they support to end UK involvement?
·      As the UK has already spent at least £40 billion on war in Afghanistan, could future allocated money instead be spent on aid and infrastructure?
·       Would they sign the petition?
Present your MP with a solidarity blue scarf