- Dear Mr. Rense:
- A glimpse into the crimes against the defenseless people
of Afghanistan reveals the criminals of the Bush Administration. Honestly,
I have no words to illustrate my disgust and pain. I so terribly tired
when I raise my voice of pain, though echoed by many good people here,
is simply a voice, while tangible realities crisscross the war ruined plains
- The hopes of many who wished to live and grow old and
have extended families vanished by the push of a button from 35,000 feet.
When people say "we support the troops", it adds insult to injury,
after all these pilots of B 52s and AC 130s that dropped Daisy Cutters
and cluster bombs are also troops. When the members of 82nd Airborne slaughter
unarmed men and women. They are troops as well.
- When the pilots of Apache Helicopters chase civilians
only to slaughter them in cold blood. Those pilots are troops as well.
The troops have a choice to be part of a genocide, the Afghans had no choice,
only to be murdered while asleep or shot while escaping the barrage of
fire from Apaches and A10 jets.
- Well, the only thing I could say is, Bravo, 'Heroes'
- Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, PhD
- After The Airstrikes...Just Silence
- MADOO, Afghanistan (WP) -- There are more graves than
houses in Madoo. The mosque and many of the roughly 35 homes that once
made up this hamlet in the White Mountains of eastern Afghanistan lie in
rubble. At least 55 men, women and children -- or pieces of them -- are
buried here, their graves marked by flags that are whipped by the wind.
- Seventeen months after U.S. warplanes bombed this village
and others in the vicinity of Osama bin Laden´s cave complex at Tora
Bora, Madoo´s survivors say they can tell civilian victims of U.S.
bombing in Iraq what to expect in the way of help from Washington: nothing.
- "Our houses were destroyed," said Niaz Mohammad
Khan, 30. "We want to rebuild, but we don´t have the money.
. . . We need water for our land. We need everything. People come and ask
us questions, then go away. No one has helped."
- Madoo is one of several enclaves in the region that the
U.S. military bombed over several days in December 2001, killing an estimated
150 civilians. Once home to 300 people, Madoo has lost roughly half its
population, villagers say. In addition to the dozens killed by U.S. airstrikes,
many others lost their homes and moved away. The people who remain are
destitute. They live crowded in the few stone and timber homes they´ve
managed to rebuild on their own. They subsist on bread and the vegetables
they grow. Several children look slight and frail.
- Half a world away in Washington, finding ways to help
people in such desperate need became an immediate priority for some policy
makers and a dangerous precedent to others.
- Congress directed that an unspecified amount of money
be spent to assist innocent victims of U.S. bombing in Afghanistan, just
as it recently called on the Bush administration to identify and provide
"appropriate assistance" to civilian victims in Iraq. But the
money has not yet reached any of the intended recipients, U.S. officials
- "The money is there," said Tim Rieser, an aide
to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). "Mistakes were made. Mistakes are
made in wars. We all know that. But we have yet to see the administration
take action to carry out the law in Afghanistan."
- The U.S. Agency for International Development, for example,
had $1.25 million in last year´s budget to help Afghan civilians
who suffered losses as a result of U.S. military action, according to the
U.S. Embassy in Kabul. But the agency has not spent any of that money helping
Afghans who had their relatives killed, their children maimed, their homes
leveled or their livestock and livelihoods destroyed by American bombing,
several U.S. officials in Afghanistan conceded this week.
- The biggest obstacle to delivery of the aid, officials
say, has been a prolonged debate over how to assist bombing victims without
compensating them. To policymakers, the distinction between easing the
plight of suffering innocents and compensating the victims of war is more
than semantic. Both the U.S. military and the State Department are leery
of setting legal precedents for compensation and have declined to establish
programs that either systematically document civilian losses or give Afghans
any opportunity to apply for reparations.
- Short of that, military civil-affairs units in Afghanistan
have, in isolated instances, provided general humanitarian assistance to
communities that happen to have suffered as a result of U.S. bombing. They
are, for example, helping rebuild Bamian University -- but only, officials
insist, because Bamian needs a new university, not because U.S. bombs destroyed
the old one.
- "Claims have never been processed for combat losses,"
said Col. Roger King, U.S. military spokesman at Bagram air base near Kabul,
the Afghan capital.
- The policy debate has gone on too long, Rieser said.
"It´s tricky," he said. "We don´t imagine going
around handing out dollar bills to people. We are sensitive to the issues.
If we were to announce some kind of a claims program, every single person
in Afghanistan would sign up. It´s just not feasible.
- "But we do know about a lot of these bombing incidents.
We know there is a real need there. Why not start doing something about
it in the context of our overall aid program? All Congress is saying is,
don´t leave out the people who suffered serious losses on account
of our mistakes. It should have happened already."
- There are no official estimates of how many Afghan civilians
have been killed by U.S. bombs. A survey published last year by the human
rights group Global Exchange estimated the number at more than 800.
- A year and a half after the U.S.-led coalition ousted
the Taliban and al Qaeda, bombs are still falling on Afghan civilians as
U.S. forces combat a resurgence of terrorism aimed at destabilizing the
government of President Hamid Karzai. In eastern Afghanistan this month,
a U.S. warplane mistakenly killed 11 members of one family when a 1,000-pound
laser-guided bomb missed its intended target and landed on a house.
- And Madoo still lies in ruins.
- The village, 25 miles south of Jalalabad, is not accessible
by road. It is a short but arduous hike through mountain gorges from the
Pakistan border. On the horizon jut the black peaks of Tora Bora, home
of the cave complex where an estimated 1,000 of bin Laden´s fighters
are believed to have gathered after the defeat of the Taliban last fall.
- It was late afternoon on Dec. 1, 2001, when U.S. warplanes
appeared over Madoo. The people of Madoo were observing Ramadan, the Muslim
holy month of fasting.
- "It was the time of breaking fast, and we were just
sitting together to have dinner," Munir, 12, recalled. "We heard
the voice of the planes, and we went outside to see what was happening.
A bomb landed on our home. There weren´t any Taliban or Arabs with
us. For nothing they dropped bombs here."
- After the first bombers left, Munir´s mother and
8-year-old sister were dead. His infant brother, Abdul Haq, was buried
alive. Relatives spied the boy´s foot sticking out of a mound of
dirt and dug him out.
- The bombers returned three times, villagers said. In
all, the people of Madoo say they buried at least 55 loved ones.
- Many bodies were too damaged to identify. Some of the
dozens of mounds in Madoo´s hillside burial ground are marked with
two and three pieces of wood, signifying that the remains of more than
one person are interred there.
- The people of Madoo remain puzzled by Americans. A retired
Ohio lawyer, who read about one Madoo boy injured in the bombings, was
so moved that he visited and gave each survivor about $300. People bought
tents and clothes and wheat seeds to plant. But Madoo´s losses outstripped
one man´s largess.
- Munir´s youngest brother, now a toddler, coughs
frequently and swipes at his runny nose. His family, whose home and meager
possessions were destroyed in the bombing, lives with relatives.
- "Before, it was good here," Munir said. "The
people and my father worked on the land. Life was better than it is now.
We have lost everything."
- Munir´s father, Shingul, 55, who is raising his
four surviving children alone, tried to talk about his late wife and daughter
but could only turn away and weep.
- "If we were doing something wrong, I could understand
this," he said when he regained his voice. "But it was Ramadan
and we were breaking the fast. The main problem we have now is that we
have nothing. We would really appreciate it if someone could help."