‘Obstacles’ to the ‘return’ of Afghans
- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On December 10, 2001
- 0 Comments
Published in Hambastegi English
December 10, 2001
The ink hasn’t dried from the agreement setting up an interim government in Afghanistan, and European and regional governments are already stepping up plans to ‘return’ Afghans back to Afghanistan. Pakistan has been sending refugees living in cities for years to refugee camps in order to facilitate their return. 24,000 have ‘voluntarily repatriated’ from Iran, though the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) admits that ‘some Afghans may have been deported’. The UK government is also talking of setting up a program to facilitate such ‘returns.’ Moreover, the UNHCR has renewed its efforts to drum up support for Afghan ‘repatriation’. High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers has noted that the return of the world’s largest population of refugees and displaced people will have a significant impact on the stabilization, rehabilitation and economic recovery of Afghanistan. He adds that even the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been born ‘in exile’ over the past two decades and have ‘never seen their homeland’ can now return. No matter their citizenship, where they were born, the length of their residency abroad, and their own wishes – they must all return!
In planning the ‘repatriation’ program, however, Mr. Lubbers does manage to mention some ‘obstacles’ to the return of Afghans, namely ‘enormous destruction of homes and infrastructure throughout the country and the scourge of millions of landmines’. He forgets to add ‘bombings, civil war, drought, famine, Islamic reaction, continued sexual apartheid and rights violations. In Afghanistan, millions are at risk of starving to death this winter. Recent factional fighting prompted the United Nations to pull its international staff out of Mazar-i-Sharif though that agency continues to go ahead with preparations to send Afghans back. Last week, armed men stopped a bus outside Kabul and hacked off the ears and noses of six men on board as punishment for shaving off their beards. Women are still forcibly veiled and continue to be denied their rights, including the right to protest (the last time a women’s rights demonstration was banned, the orders came from the Bonn Summit itself). Another ‘obstacle’ Mr. Lubbers fails to mention is the fact that the transitional government that is to take control in a few weeks is made up of mostly war criminals who should be tried for crimes against the Afghan people rather than run the country. And that is not all. From the standpoint of the UN and Western governments, Afghans are such sub-humans that they are not eligible to participate in free elections and live in a secular society. Power is divided among the most brutal, and after a while, an ethnic council from pre-historic times called the Loya Jirga will run the country some more. Even the rights of Afghans are relative. The Bonn agreement ‘acknowledges the right of the people of Afghanistan to freely determine their own political future in accordance with the [antithetical] principles of Islam, democracy, pluralism and social justice’. There will also be a Judicial Commission to ‘rebuild the justice system in accordance with Islamic principles, international standards, the rule of law and Afghan legal traditions’ – which means more stonings, floggings, compulsory veiling, child marriages… Once again religious and ethnic reaction has been imposed on the Afghan people. This must be resisted. The forcible return of Afghans who have fled two decades of this Islamic reaction must also be resisted. Afghans must be given protection and their right to asylum and their universal human rights must be recognised. Anything less is unacceptable.