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.
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.