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Articles from the Peace News log: Afghanistan
Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here
As we approached a cluster of ramshackle mud huts on the side of a motorway, our driver (a friend of a friend) warned us to be careful as two foreign journalists had been kidnapped in a refugee camp in Kabul only last year. I asked my friend (a young man and member of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers) if he was comfortable with accompanying me into the camp, he agreed that he was as we both stepped out of the car with Kiwi journalist Jon Stevenson.
The refugee camp near the Crystal Hotel in Karte Parwan Kabul is home to around 300 families each consisting on average of 9 people per family. The camp is separated from a motorway by a large ditch which judging from the strong smell of Sulphur contained raw sewage. We were directed over a rickety bridge to see the last sack of aid being carried away.
A gift of supplies from Peace News readers and Financial Times NUJ chapter had just been delivered (with the help of the camp elders). £2,175 worth of aid consisting of a lorry full of fire wood, 3 tones of sugar, tea and bread making flour which had been bought from a local wholesale market only a few hours before....Read More
We were lucky enough to receive an invitation to visit a self run community on the edge of Kabul, Chelsitun in Wasalabad; it’s a mixed Tajik and Pashtun community split into 8 sections, consisting of 2,000 households each having its own representative which implements Government initiatives and also manages security in the area.
We were told that the community practices religious and ethnic tolerance and has one of the only Mosques which welcomes joint worship by both Sunni’s and Shia’s with the two Muslim groups sharing funerals and ceremonies. When we arrived in Chelsitun the pathway were unusually set with concrete; an independent initiative by the community (paid for by the people within the area) as a move towards installing proper infrastructure.
Our group was directed into a compound and then into the office of the community elders. It was like stepping back in time into what I imagined pre war Afghanistan to be like; exquisite prayer mats hung on the war, the traditional ornate Afghan rugs; a greenhouse conservatory made of improvised plastic sheeting with the lushest greenery I have seen since leaving the UK....Read More
My first morning in Kabul, I went with Momajan and Roz Mohammed for my first real taste of the outside, a walk to the shops to change my money and top-up an internet dongle. I stepped out into the bright cold streets of Kabul. Initially I was blinded by the brightness of the sun and then choked by the pollution. My immediate thought was that I had stepped into Dickensian London only far worse, piles of rubbish on the street, open sewers running alongside the dirt pavements (also containing rubbish), bric-a-brac junk shops made out of dilapidated shacks, beggars every few yards, the number of people with disabilities is extreme. Air thick with pollution, nothing like anything I’ve experienced during my 18 years of growing up in East London. Pavements are improvised or sometimes non existent; there are no traffic regulations, no zebra crossings or traffic lights. To cross a road you take your life into your own hands zigzagging cars, motorbikes and bicycles. Perhaps the most worrying is the number of people with guns, guards stationed outside buildings, shops, banks all carry a gun slung over their shoulder....Read More
The Sun was setting as my plane approached to land in Kabul. My first sights of Afghanistan were the snow capped hills and gigantic mountain ranges which seemed to stretch forever. From the plane I could see meandering roads snaking round the endless mountain passes. It had just turned to dusk as I exited off the plane and onto the runway; I walked a few feet and onto a bus. The airport seems to double up as a military bay as the number of helicopters and fighter jets are also stationed there. As I got off the bus I was greeted by a large sign “Welcome to Afghanistan, land of the brave”.
I stepped into the immigration hall, basic and dated was my immediate impression. The pale blue uniform of the police looked like something out of a 1970s James Bond movie with pants pulled high up the waist, big belts and flat station master type caps. At a guess the airport interior dated back to the 60s, I later learnt it doesn’t even have a toilet. I immediately headed for a queue with some other women in it. My pious Islamic outfit purchased from Whitechapel Market only a week before hand was probably too authentic as all the other Afghani women wore western jeans and tops with scarves loosely tied round their heads. It’s likely that Afghans on the flight were from middle class backgrounds which may explain their taste in western style....Read More
Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the war against Afghanistan. This morning peace activists gathered outside Downing Street in a protest organised by the London Catholic Worker. Red paint was poured on the pavement outside the gates to symbolise the blood of the 25,000 civilians and 2,500 soldiers who have been killed or wounded in the last decade....Read More
I was in two minds as to how to write up the interview with Nicolas Kent. Our usual format in PN is to just to present the transcript of the interview, and that’s what we did in the end (for an unusually long three pages), but I was very tempted to write it up in a more traditional journalistic style. These notes are a small move to bringing a bit more of the flavour of the thing over.
When I called up to arrange the interview, Nicolas Kent was very gracious, but it was clear he was under a lot of pressure of work and he had only half an hour to spare. This meant that a lot of things didn’t get teased out enough (I didn’t try to engage with his ideas about Afghanistan, which I didn’t agree with) and some things didn’t make it in at all.
The thing that was left out that I regret most, which indicated most clearly what type of person Mr Kent is, and therefore what these plays really are, was an incident in relation to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.
As everyone knows, Stephen Lawrence was a young black man killed by a gang of white racists in 1993. The inquiry into the failed police investigations describes his murder in these terms:...Read More
The Judge Lord Justice Laws looked over his glasses, he was a no messing kind of guy with a habit of cutting to the chase immediately. “So this £50- £100 k figure, where did it come from? Is it the governments?”
The defence Lawyer for the Secretary of State Mr Grodzinski flicked through his papers to find the source. Indeed it was the government’s calculated annual expense for judicial reviews- cost was the main justification which the Ministry of Justice had used to cut legal aid for judicial review cases.
Justice Laws looked truly astounded, he had obviously followed the same path of logic we had: “But it’s peanuts!” he bluntly stated.
I had to put my head down as I struggled to keep a straight face and Grodzinski struggled for words, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves....Read More