An Afghan man walks through the wreckage of a US bombing raid. From the beginning, the US has waged two wars in Afghanistan, the first against the people of Afghanistan themselves, the second against its own populace. The combined weight of two campaigns, now sees the United States in pariah status around the world with the signature of international decline being broadcast around the world by its own military.
October 7th 20111 marks the tenth anniversary of the United States invasion of Afghanistan. The invasion was claimed, at the time, to be an attempt to find and kill a Saudi national by the name of Osama Bin Laden who, the US claimed, was responsible for a number of commercial passenger airliners being flown into civil and government buildings in the US on September 11th 2001. The attacks on the United States have formed the structural basis for all foreign policy initiatives undertaken by the United States from that day to this. In May 2011, the US claimed that it had found and executed Bin Laden2 in Pakistan.
Throughout the entire period, the United States military acting as a political body, have made a number of claims about its intentions much of which have been found to be false, misleading or heavily deceptive. It now has little or no realistic control over large parts of Afghanistan and is unable to manufacture consent among the Afghan people themselves toward their own security. It experiences persistent breaches of security in all areas in which it is placed and is unable to contain or influence local, regional or international opinion. It has no meaningful or realistic timetable3 under which it can tactically extricate itself from theatre and is unable to articulate a strategic conclusion to its current deployment. It holds little or no influence among the general populace in either the domestic population of the US or allied nations. Despite this, among the international and world media most especially electronic media, the US military exercises near complete dominance of all narratives, such is the expenditure of its investments toward falsifying of international opinion.
General John Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A).
General John R Allen was commanded to take control of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on 18th July 2011 from the previous commander General David Petraeus. Since its original arrival in Afghanistan in 2001, ISAF have steadily increased its presence in the territory from around 5,000 troops at the wars start, to around 130,000 in 2011. In that time, 15 different Generals have taken command of the forces of 45 nations, the majority of whom have volunteered largely meaningless resources. Throughout the ISAF mission severe communication problems and difficulty prioritising combat roles across the nations has been experienced. As a result, various Mujahedin groups have been able to exploit factional divisions and have been able to launch anti-occupation attacks with relative ease. Although the Talib (Taliban) are still operating in the country, Al Qa'ida are not. With the death of Osama Bin Laden, and the complete disappearance of Al Qa'ida, along with chronic economic disruption at home, the United States and its allies no longer hold a strategic or tactical purpose in Afghanistan yet continue to state that they will remain. It is here, 10 years after the occupation began, that the military forces of the United States are no longer able to maintain international confidence in its objectives.
Total combined casualties.
Total combined fatalities 5 taken by coalition forces in Afghanistan. As can be seen in this running graph depicting data collected from the beginning of the conflict in 2001, total combined coalition deaths in Afghanistan has been steadily rising year on year throughout operations. The information contained in this graph reveals a higher death toll primarily due to the expansion of ISAF forces in Afghanistan and has gone on in tandem with higher troop numbers that have been injected into the country, especially in the period immediately following Operation Panther's Claw, which saw US troop numbers 'surge' in June 2009 by an extra 17,000. Despite the surge, US and coalition fatalities continue to increase.
To date, combined casualties4 taken by all parties are 13,744 fatalities experienced by all parties involved in operations to support coalition forces, 20,000 or more injuries associated with coalition forces, around 59,500 injuries associated with private security mercenary forces (the bulk of US belligerence), around 9,500 deaths of Afghani police and security forces, an estimated 34,000 deaths in the civilian population and a further estimated 38,000 deaths in the population as a result of Afghani's being identified as insurgents. Combined, the total casualties experienced in Afghanistan are just over 165,000. These figures are hampered by little or no cogent reporting or investigation by third-parties or independent bodies of injuries sustained by the general populace, the bulk of which are unlikely to have been correctly reported. As a result, further sources for total casualties differ widely in their reporting citing substantial implausibility in reporting for a number of reasons.
Afghani children killed during the conflict. Throughout the conflict in Afghanistan, the civilian populace has borne the brunt of fighting between the United States, its allies and supposed enemies. For much of the conflict, coalition occupation forces have demonstrated an unusual inability to successfully determine the difference between the local populace and so-called 'insurgents'. While much of the narrative here in the west has largely relied on popular vitriol and polemic seeping from within the mainstream media, very little has been competently re-directed back toward this jingoism in terms of correct and cogent criticism of the widespread cultural mis-cues present in that propaganda. For many in the west, a secular blind-order reigns amidst the multi-cultural 'relativist' misadventure of political opportunists, and as a direct result, the Afghani people are left without the required identity needed to invoke compassion and humanitarian representation on the world stage. For propagandists in the west, the Afghani people are a homogenous mix of single identity Arabiya only. The delicacy of tribal intermixing that exists in reality in Afghanistan, and which determines the real loyalties that exist there, is completely lost on the political scientists of the coalition, many of whom are clearly not in control of their own domestic populations.
Throughout the entire conflict period, misreporting of true casualty rates in Afghanistan has been engaged in by all parties including the military, government and media with almost no deviation away from what is clearly an operating 'official line'. In almost all cases, reporting parties have confined their reporting to fatality rates only, choosing not to report injuries in context with the war itself and instead reporting serious wounds and injuries in the context of domestic post-conflict welfare provision of each of the belligerent nations, usually in conjunction with funding appeals or public sector financing for rehabilitation institutions.
Throughout the occupation of Afghanistan, there has been in place a serious and compelling fracture6 between the aims and motivations of the US and British governments, as articulated through domestic and international media, and the reality of daily life in Afghanistan. In almost every incident where the civilian population of Afghanistan has been brutalised unnecessarily, both British and US explanations have been coached in obscure and contradictory language designed for no other purpose than to derail criticism of the mission. On many occasions, statements given by the UK and US have not matched the claimed aim of acting to provide peace and security for the people of Afghanistan.
US Army trauma bay at work in Afghanistan. In this image, US medical clinicians are photographed while working in a US Army trauma bay. Facilities like this have been regularly used throughout the war in Iraq and Afghanistan to treat US and coalition casualties. Rarely are they used to treat the victims of American violence primarily due to informal policy decisions made by US forces while engaging so-called 'insurgents'. When these engagements occur, it is almost always the case that injuries sustained by Afghani's are immediately followed by fatal injuries delivered by troops keen to inflate domestic propaganda in the US political and media environments. The staggering lack of treatment of local Afghani's at facilities like this illustrates the danger of pro-war propaganda in the UK and US and its poisonous influence on serving military personnel in theatre in Afghanistan. To this day, and after ten years of conflict, brazen racism continues to be tolerated most especially in the online media environments of the United Kingdom and the United States, most importantly among social media sites that originate and operate in the United States. While this racism continues to freely disseminate in full view of the people of the UK and US, facilities such as this continue to be denied to Afghani's who find themselves critically injured and in desperate need of medical assistance.
In order to properly reveal the root cause of this contradiction, domestic media in the UK and US have often sought explanations from military representatives directly in order to reveal possible discrepancies between the political and military aims in Afghanistan. This has resulted in the bizarre spectacle of military generals and senior staff giving opinions directly to the domestic populace, at a time of war, when the motivations for war are ordinarily the exclusive preserve and duty of elected political leaders to explain publicly.
This fracture is most evident when demands for explanations regarding the numbers of Afghani civilians killed and seriously wounded in Afghanistan are made. For a number of years, civilians killed by UK and US forces has been the subject of serious contention in all quarters. Overwhelmingly, the domestic populations of the UK and US are still in the dark, a problem magnified tremendously when set against assurances given by political and military leaders that the occupation is in pursuit of the interests of the Afghani people themselves.
Without the most comprehensive measure of success available: the welfare of the Afghan people, neither the ordinary people of Britain nor the United States are able to remain convinced that the continued occupation of Afghanistan is, in fact, for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan.
Propaganda is a deviant political science relating to the control and dissemination of information for political, social or cultural effect. Its primary purpose is to install in the target audience a lop-sided understanding of the information presented such that vectored or single-directional analysis follows. This analysis is then used to justify, or complement, a primary policy toward the material aims of the propagandist. Fundamental to the aims of the propagandist, is control of information from cradle to grave of its life cycle.
In Afghanistan, the cycle of information is controlled at all times by the US and UK military. This is achieved by embedded reporting7 whereby journalists are placed inside US/UK forces and exposed to events or operations that are likely to yield friendly reporting, or by static journalists placed at positions in theatre where no realistic prospect of independence can be maintained. As the conflict has gone on, these arrangements have been supplemented by US and British Army service personnel being trained to provide their own reporting which is by default, of military origin. However, in an age in which the majority of all news is consumed through the internet, this arrangement has broken down. As a result, the United States is no longer able to effectively utilise propaganda in usable form.
A front cover of TIME magazine entitled "What happens if we leave Afghanistan" published in August 2010, relating the story of a young Afghan woman called Bibi Aisha.
In these two images which follow, a young Afghan girl by the name of Bibi Aisha8 is depicted after being mutilated by her husband after she had fled an abusive marriage with him. As a result, the husband had approached a local court in session overseen by a Taliban commander. This Shariat court is one of many that exist in Muslim nations to allow for the settling of disputes according to the lore of the land. Bibi's husband received back a judgement for him to take action against his wife, Bibi, to settle the matter. Bibi was then taken from her home in sight of other members of the family, she was subjected to a mutilation by the cutting off of her ears and nose. Although Muslim lore may seem archaic to many in the west, Muslims all over the world have a need to live their lives according to rules set out in the context of their own faith and sense of piety. Shariat courts are a way to reach agreement between parties within the confines of respected scripture. However, the Shariat system is only as pious as those who hold the judgements. In this case, a military Talib had corrupted the court9, which was then further corrupted by Bibi's husband. The two corruptions ultimately led to Bibi's mutilation. While TIME magazine have made substantial capital from Bibi's mutilation, there are a great many other Afghan women that have been subject to domestic violence by abusive husbands and family members which, of course, are routinely ignored by the US media.
After the TIME cover had caused a storm of controversy, Bibi was flown to the US and given reconstructive surgery. TIME had attempted to infer that Bibi's story justified the occupation.
The story of Bibi Aisha is one of manipulation from the start. In 2010 TIME magazine, a US centric publication known for its pro-war polemic, used the tragic story of Bibi's mutilation for political effect and to infer that her misfortune justified the continued occupation of Afghanistan, itself an action that very substantially magnifies the withering misery that the entire people of Afghanistan are currently exposed to. Despite this, Bibi has won safe harbour as a result of the international attention she has received but nevertheless, her story illustrates how women can be used for propaganda purposes, and why that propaganda can polarise opinion among political camps, effectively ensuring that other victims of domestic violence are widely ignored.
Since the initial invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, propaganda has formed the bulk of US strategy in persecuting its war. The general theme is that the United States holds itself to be an unquestionable arbiter of logic and common sense, and its critics are self-indulgent or apolitical. Over the course of the last decade, this theme has progressively broken down and revealed a contra-indication which has successfully reversed the arrangement. In 2011, the United States is now widely, throughout the world, seen as self-indulgent and apolitical, while its critics have become stridently logical and defined by common sense.
In 2010, the Wikileaks organisation released material it had 'retrieved' from the US military in which the actions of US ground forces in Iraq were thrown into sharp relief. The material took the form of an on-board recording of an incident in Baghdad in 200710. The incident involved two Reuters journalists attempting to collect evidence of the effects of US air strikes in the city earlier. As the two journalists arrived, local ground forces became aware of their presence and a US helicopter was called to the scene. What followed was a series of events that fully revealed how US forces are able to manufacture and fabricate events on the ground, in order to successfully 'build' evidence of insurgency to be eventually disseminated in the domestic United States. The video's release called into sharp focus the tactical aims of the US, and torpedoed its wider strategic aims in the country.
In this video taken from on-board an Apache gunship dated July 12th 2007, two Reuters journalists are found and targeted as insurgents. The video depicts the Apache crew identifying the journalists as insurgents carrying Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) weapons before opening fire on them with on-board cannon. The two journalists had been identified by ground observers but despite this, were continually referred to as insurgents. At the time, both Reuters journalists were persistently able to detect and expose evidence of US war crimes in Baghdad and this is almost certainly the reason they were identified as belligerents. Throughout the incident, the on-board crew can be heard knowingly relating false information back to their ground commanders. At one point, the crew realise that one of the journalists has escaped, and is about to be removed from the scene by locals, as the realisation dawns on them that the assassination attempt is about to fail, the Apache crew immediately ask for permission to engage the locals again inventing weaponry and insurgent status which is clearly not evident. This video was repeatedly requested to be released by the Reuters News Agency but the US military blocked and obstructed their attempts. The video finally came to the world's attention after it was leaked to the Wikileaks organisation from an internal whistle-blower within the US military. As a result, US complicity in the murder of the journalists was found, and further evidence of the invention of insurgency was fully revealed.
In Afghanistan, the situation is barely any better. Time and time again, US forces have been engaged in operations against so-called insurgents, and time and time again have been found to have fabricated and deceived the international community about the facts of these engagements. In almost all incidents, the United States military appears to be following a hidden agenda of barely disguised revenge killings, which when reported, are passed through numerous censorship panels, then passed onto media corporations via US based news agencies, which are then disseminated in highly contrived format, verbatim throughout the world. Today, in the United Kingdom and the United States, major news agencies are able to release information to the world's media without correctly making known the multi-tier editing procedures that news content is now subject to. In some cases, media reports emanating from US based news agencies may pass through military, political and bureau censors, all before it is finally released to worldwide media, who again edit the reports before publication.
In October 2011, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) operating under the auspices of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) released a report: "Treatment of Conflict Related Detainees in Afghan Custody"11. The report outlined the practise of arbitrary detention by the Afghan law enforcement community acting in concert with the US occupation forces.
Afghan detainees are lined up at a prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan. April 26th 2011. In this image, detainees are lined up in a prison in Kandahar province. According to a United Nations report into detainee abuse in Afghanistan, detainees experience routine torture and abuse by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) in the pre-trial phase of their detention prior to being placed into institutions like this. The report highlights serious and chronic abuses including being hooded and blindfolded, forced to stand in static positions for extended periods of time, being beaten with metal and plastic pipes, being beaten with thick electrical flex wire, having water poured into the eyes, nose and ears, being jumped on by soldiers, being threatened with sexual abuse in the case of minors, having large objects inserted into the bowels, wrenching and severe twisting of genitals, electrocution, and threats to cut or mutilate the genitals. In one case the abuse was so violent, that a detainee died of injuries consistent with chronic internal trauma. The report found that torture is routinely committed by officers of the NDS and ANP and that judicial oversight is largely veneer or absent entirely. In many cases, evidence was found that UK and US occupation forces had been handing detainees over to the NDS and ANP for investigation. The report also acknowledged that the detention regime under which these acts of torture had been carried out, was acting to fuel insurgency.
The report was conducted between October 2010 and August 2011 and involved UNAMA interviewing 379 pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners at 47 facilities including the Afghan National Police (ANP) detention centres, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). These interviews were drawn from a total of 22 provinces, with a further two provinces included as a result of prisoners being transferred across provinces. Of the 379 detainees, 324 were being detained, or had been convicted of offences related to the armed conflict in the country. Of the 324 detained or convicted prisoners, UNAMA found 48% were alleged to be involved with armed groups fighting against the occupation, 20% were alleged to have been carrying or involved with the transport of explosives and 11% were alleged to be involved with potential suicide attacks. In 21% of cases, the detainee was unaware of what crime they had been accused of committing.
The interviews were conducted with the detainees without the presence of detention facility staff, government representative staff or other inmates and using competent and cogent research methods designed to detect false reporting by the detainees or collective lying, either from experiences related to contact with other inmates during detention, or from prior training by anti-occupation forces.
The report found evidence of endemic torture and human rights violations across all 22 provinces in the country and in some cases these acts involved children under the age of 18. Under Afghan law, these acts are illegal. The detainees interviewed in the investigation describe being suspended from walls and ceilings by chains or bars, being beaten with rubber hoses, wooden sticks or electric flex wire, electrocution, having their genitals twisted or wrenched, being threatened with sexual abuse or having their toenails or fingernails removed and being held for prolonged period in stress positions. The practise of holding a person in a stress position for extended periods, especially where the person is subjected to pressure against parts of their bodies can cause Rhabdomyolysis, a condition most commonly seen after crush injuries, and which can lead to kidney or renal failure and possible death if untreated.
The report also describes detainees being subjected to routine hooding and blindfolding along with denial of medical care. In one instance, the report also found evidence of a death as a result of these practices.
According to the report:
"Article 29 of the Constitution of Afghanistan provides 'No one shall be allowed to or order torture, even for discovering the truth from another individual who is under investigation, arrest, detention or has been convicted to be punished.' The Penal Code criminalises torture and article 275 prescribes that public officials (this would include all NDS and ANP officials) found to have tortured an accused for the purpose of obtaining a confession shall be sentenced to imprisonment in the range of five to 15 years."
"For this report, UNAMA defines a systematic practice or use of torture as a pattern or practice of interrogation methods that constitute torture occurring within a facility which demonstrate that facility's policy or standard operating procedure for dealing with conflict-related detainees. Since nearly all conflict-related detainees UNAMA interviewed in the named facilities were subjected to interrogation methods amounting to torture, the facility's management and investigative staff must have known, committed, ordered or acquiesced to the practice of torture. As such, it can be concluded that torture was an institutional policy or practice of the facility and was not used by a few 'bad apples' in only isolated incidents or on rare occasions."
The report also found that:
"UNAMA's detention observation included interviews with 89 detainees who reported the involvement of international military forces either alone or together with Afghan forces in their capture and transfer to NDS or ANP custody. UNAMA found compelling evidence that 19 of these 89 detainees were tortured in NDS custody and three in ANP custody."
UNAMA's report has been released in October 2011, despite reports of human rights abuses being prevalent throughout Afghanistan for a number of years, hence the need for UNAMA to investigate the accusations. Throughout, complicity of occupying forces in these human rights abuses remains unclear. The report found that:
"In early July 2011, US and ISAF military forces stopped transferring detainees to NDS and ANP authorities in Dai Kundi, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul based on reports of a consistent practice of torture and mistreatment of detainees in NDS and ANP detention facilities in those areas. In early September 2011, in response to the findings in this report, ISAF stated that it stopped transferring detainees to certain NDS and ANP installations as a precautionary measure."
"Torture and ill-treatment by NDS and ANP could also trigger application of the 'Leahy Law' which prohibits the US from providing funding, weapons or training to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross human rights violations, unless the Secretary of State determines that the concerned government is taking effective remedial measures. In the situation of Afghanistan this would presumably require the US to resume transfer of detainees only when the Government of Afghanistan implements appropriate remedial measures that include bringing to justice NDS and ANP officials responsible for torture and ill-treatment."
"UNAMA found that accountability of NDS and ANP officials for torture and abuse is weak, not transparent and rarely enforced. Limited independent, judicial or external oversight exists of NDS and ANP as institutions and of crimes or misconduct committed by NDS and ANP officials including torture and abuse."
"Most cases of crimes or abusive or unprofessional conduct by NDS officials are addressed internally. Senior NDS officials advised UNAMA that NDS investigated only two claims of torture in recent years, neither of which led to charges being pursued against the accused."
In Afghanistan, the judiciary operates predominately on the basis of confessions voluntarily presented to the prosecuting authority by the suspected felon. This is ordinarily the case for criminal trials and trials and offences relating to matters of national security. Where a confession exists, the court is highly inclined to find that confession 'persuasive' evidence of guilt on its own.
In most cases where a confession is presented, its validity or credibility is rarely challenged, even by the defence counsel. Symmetrical to this, the judiciary does not have developed systems in place to maintain due process toward those accused of criminal conduct and fails to properly set out defined deadlines for the pre-trial phase of investigation, terms of custody, unclear definition of the role that arresting and prosecuting authorities have and a lack of judicial oversight throughout the pre-trial period. These structural failures are substantially aggravated by the fact that detainees have no access at all to defence counsel or information about their rights. When asked about the right of detainees to see a defence counsel, one NDS official claimed:
"Of course not! Lawyers have no access to the facility during the pre-trial detention: this is one of NDS' principles . . . Lawyers can influence their clients and compromise the investigation. If we allow lawyers to interact with our detainees they will damage our work. Interrogation of the arrested person must be performed in absence of any external person."
The National Security Prosecutor in the same province confirmed these difficulties, saying:
"In the two years that I have been here, I do not know of one single case of a defence counsel being able to see his client while at NDS."
The report also found that time limits for prosecuting authorities to investigate accusations levied against detainees were not adhered to in any meaningful way. According to the report:
"Under Afghanistan's Interim Criminal Procedure Code, custody is linked with the phase of a criminal case. Police may detain an individual for up to 72 hours after an arrest, while they conduct initial interviews, prepare charges and hand the case over to a primary prosecutor (Saranwalebtadaiah) who confirms the charges and basis for detention. Prosecutors then have a maximum period of 30 days from the time of arrest to investigate and file an indictment. During this process, suspects are to be transferred to a detention centre administered by the Central Prison Directorate - currently within the Ministry of Justice."
"In practice, ANP and NDS officials routinely disregard these time limits and safeguards. UNAMA found that 93 percent of all NDS detainees interviewed were held for periods longer than the 72 hour maximum - an average of 20 days - before being charged with a crime and transferred to a Ministry of Justice detention centre. Many ANP and NDS officials attributed their inability to meet time limits to inadequate human resources, lack of logistical and technical capacity, and difficulties in travel to and from remote locations with poor infrastructure and insecurity to detention facilities."
The report also includes the testimony of ordinary Afghani's interviewed by UNAMA gathered during its investigations. Some of these accounts are given below. It should be noted that UNAMA have already stated that they have gone to great lengths to conduct these interviews in a cogent and coherent manner and have used evidence gathering technique's that are designed to detect and expose fraud, lying, cross-detainee influence and prior training by anti-occupation forces.
"My first day in Department 90, I was interrogated by two Afghans. They . . . advised me to confess [that he used specific phone numbers to contact particular parts of the Taliban structure]. They also accused me of [playing a specific role in the Taliban structure]. I was not beaten or mistreated by those two interrogators on my first day in Department 90. They were only advising me to admit what they claimed against me. For the next two days, I was not interrogated at all, but on each of those days, I was tied up from both wrists to the bars of an iron door in the middle of the hallway from morning until lunch time. They put a hood on my head and hung me by my wrists. The next day - the fourth day of my detention in Department 90 - I was taken to an interrogation room and was interrogated by two Afghans. They asked me again about the phone numbers and wanted me to confess they were mine. I told them they were not mine. There was a file in their hands and they told me that all of the information about me and my confession were in that file. . . . When I insisted that those phone numbers were not mine and that I did not know about them, they called for another two Afghans and both of those interrogators started beating me with hard plastic water pipes on my legs and the soles of my feet. The next day, they started again interrogating me and asking the same questions. They were also beating me and they threatened to insert a bottle of water inside my anus. During those interrogations, I was not asked to sign or fingerprint any papers. I was again taken back to my cell." [The detainee described acts of torture that occurred on multiple days including one incident of electric shock.] "They took off my clothes, and one of them held my penis in his hand and twisted it severely until I passed out. After I woke up, I had to confess because I could not stand the pain, and I did not want that to happen to me again and suffer the same severe and unbearable pain. [The detainee made a formal confession] I was forced to do that to avoid all of the agony. . . . After I was forced to confess that I was a Taliban and cooperated with them, I was returned to my cell and was never interrogated or abused again." - Detainee 243, April 2011
"After beating me for a long time - I cannot remember how long it was - they hung me from an ironbarred door. I was hung until evening, and the hood was placed over my head during that time. The door was in the hallway. I was released from that door for sunset prayers, then hung again, then released for evening prayers, then hung again, then freed for dinner, and then hung until 10pm. While I was being hung, I only heard someone telling me over and over that I did not tell the truth." - Detainee 331, April 2011
"I graduated from a religious school in Pakistan. On my way back to Afghanistan, NDS officials arrested me at a check point on the border. Interrogation started as soon as we reached to [NDS facility in Kandahar city]. A group of officials asked me where and what activities I was carrying out as a Taliban. I said I was not a Taliban. They warned that if I did not confess they would kill me. I said I was not a Talib I was a civilian doing religious study in Pakistan. They did not believe it and started beating me. I could not see how many officials were involved in beating, but there were more than two. They had an electric wire. They beat me on my feet, legs and back. The beating and abuse continued for three days. They interrogated me three times during the day and twice at night. They would hang me in the afternoon after the interrogation. They tied my hands along with my chest with my turban and hung me on the ceiling. I guess there was a ceiling fan on which they were hanging me. It would last for 20-25 minutes. They would not beat me while hanging. It was tied very tight and caused pain all around my chest. I kept crying but they did not listen to me. On the third day, NDS officials threatened me that they would insert a wooden stick pasted with chilli powder in my anal canal. On the same day, three officials came and made me lie on my chest two of them sat on me and the third one beat me on the bottom of my feet. He used an electric cable to beat me. It was really painful. The beating lasted for almost one hour. I confessed that I was a Taliban after I could not resist their beatings and torture on the third day. They did not allow me to pray for three days. They would not release my handcuffs even during the time of eating. They would take off the blindfolds only when I wanted to go to the toilet. I was then taken to NDS headquarters. Three NDS officials interrogated me three times. They blamed me that I was a Taliban. As I denied, they started beating me. They tied my hands on the back and used an electric cable to beat me. Some of them would hold me and one or two of them would beat me. They beat me on my feet, legs, back and chest. The electric cable was almost one metre long which was thicker in one side. The beating was very hard. I had accepted that I was a Taliban during earlier interrogations. But they asked me to give them details of my activities and operations that I did when I was a Taliban. They had different incidents from different dates that I was not aware of but they forced me to confess that I was behind of all those incidents. I was sick, could not continue standing up or walk around. I asked for doctors but they did not allow. [The detainee displayed a bandage on his chest which he stated was for pain caused by suspension and displayed four visible recovering injury marks on his left leg and five on his right leg which he stated were caused by electric cable.] - Detainee 379, April 2011
As can be expected in an environment of unmitigated lawlessness, where there is little or no intervention by either local law enforcement or by occupying authorities, the entire population can be expected to come into contact with those who commit serial human rights abuses. This will almost certainly include children or adolescents. The UNAMA investigation found evidence that children have been exposed to violent acts of torture after being arrested and detained by local NDS operatives.
"Among detainees who provided credible and consistent accounts of torture by NDS officials in Khost were children who described in detail abusive treatment they suffered during interrogations. UNAMA interviewed six individuals under the age of 18 (one child was aged 15, three children were 16 years old and two children were 17 years old) and four reported they had been forced to make false confessions."
"Three children reported they were beaten with cables until they gave the information their interrogators wanted. Two others reported they were subjected to electric shocks until they made confessions. Another child reported he had been beaten on his head until he lost consciousness. In addition, this child reported that two NDS officials used a wooden stick to hurt his testicles and then threatened him with sexual abuse if he did not confess."
"UNAMA found that two children were subjected to forced, prolonged standing. Both children reported being made to stand outside (handcuffed and shackled) in the sun for long periods during the day. They also reported that NDS officials bound their wrists with one set of handcuffs while affixing a second set of handcuffs, on one end, to the chain of the first set and, on the other end, to a metal bar. These accounts, in particular reinforce the finding that NDS staff in Khost used similar abusive tactics that amounted to torture to obtain confessions during interrogations."
"UNAMA interviewed 21 persons who were detained at the provincial NDS detention facility in Laghman province. UNAMA found that detainees were held in this facility for an average of 10 days. Of the 21 detainees interviewed, 14 reported that interrogators had abused them, including one child of 14 years. Fourteen individuals stated they had been initially detained by NDS, while four others said that ANP had arrested them."
The UNAMA report then goes onto recount the story of a group of individuals who had been detained and handed over to the ANP at a checkpoint in April and May 2011. They were transferred to an ANP facility where they were tortured violently. One man exhibited wounds consistent with serious internal trauma injuries after he had been tortured and while being transferred to a hospital, died as a result of his injuries.
"Other cases brought to UNAMA's attention include cases in which detainees that were beaten, either in or out of NDS custody, were denied access to medical care. In at least one instance, the individual died."
"The case involved several individuals who were detained by ANP at ANP check posts in Kandahar city in April and May 2011 and subjected to abusive interrogation at the ANP check post and nearby ANP compound. Police officers tortured the individuals during interrogations over a number of days, beating them repeatedly while they were held down under a blanket including jumping on them under the blanket, hitting them under the blanket and demanding they confess individually to being a Taliban planter of improvised explosive devices, seeking names of other alleged Taliban and owning a pistol and bullets. Other methods of torture these detainees experienced included suspension and pouring water in the nose, mouth and ears. One detainee reported being injected several times in the thigh with a syringe during suspension."
"After 14 days in ANP custody, ANP handed the detainees over to NDS custody. At the time of arrival in NDS custody, one detainee was seriously injured as a result of torture with one side of his body visibly black (from possible internal bleeding and injuries). Despite his worsening condition and visible signs of severe abuse, NDS refused the detainee's multiple requests to see a doctor over 13 days, until he began to vomit blood. NDS then sent the detainee to a hospital but he died before arriving there."
In August 2011, UNAMA met with the NDS Deputy Director for Kandahar in order to ascertain further information about accusations of torture in Kandahar, and to illicit a statement about how these accusations of torture could appear in a nation that had outlawed such practices. He stated:
"I am well aware about section 275 of the Interim Criminal Procedure Code. I know torture and illtreatment are prohibited and even those who order his subordinates to inflict torture for obtaining information should be punished. Everyone wants to carry out his job according to law but Kandahar is specific. The situation here is different than other places."
Alongside the conduct of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan National Police (ANP) are also included in acts of torture. While many accounts from detainees relate to ANP carrying out arrests prior to handing them over to the NDS, the ANP are also accused of carrying out acts of torture. This illustrates that torture in Afghanistan can take place before detainees are placed into the judicial system for interrogation and investigation. This is where torture becomes nationalist violence, undertaken by those with little or no interest in the efficacy of the law. The following extract relates to the testimony of an Afghan national arrested by ANP officers who took him to a local police station in order to carry out serial human rights abuses. The account is followed by other human rights abuses committed by ANP in other provinces, the torture of children by ANP operatives and Afghani's being handed over to the NDS by US occupation forces.
"Around 35 days ago, a group of police came to my house and arrested me around 11am in the morning. They handcuffed me and took me to the district police office. . . At their office, a group of police asked me if I had killed someone recently. [They told me a name of a man who I did not know and I had not done anything wrong to him]. I said I did not kill anyone and had been in my home all the time. They said 'if you do not confess we will kill you'. They also asked me to accept the responsibility of killing so that they would not harm me. I said I did not kill the person. They crossed my hands [folded left hand from the top of his shoulder and right hand from his waist] on the back and start beating. They beat me with an electric wire. During the beating, they asked me to confess that I was responsible for killing a man in --- district . . . [The detainee displayed four visible recovering injury marks on his right calf, front of his right leg and across his back; each approximately 15 centimetres long and two centimetres wide which he stated were caused by beating with electric wires]. I did not confess the crime. After a while the officers start beating me on my feet by a stick. That was very painful. They beat me like 20 minutes on both my feet [the detainee displayed visible recovering bluish-red welt marks on the soles of his feet]. The beating was very hard. They removed my clothes and threatened they would cut my penis if I do not confess. Seeing a knife, I thought they would cut my penis, I confessed I had committed the crime. Once I confessed they did not beat me but kept me handcuffed for almost the whole day. I was kept in their detention for four more days before being transferred to the NDS detention facility in Kandahar." - Detainee 374, July 2011
"During a series of interrogations, ANP officials in Kunduz provincial headquarters beat a detainee on the soles of his feet with cables, slapped the detainee and beat him repeatedly on the back with a metal rod. ANP officials demanded he either confess to killing a local commander or pay a large bribe."
"ANP officials and Afghan Local Police in Dasht-e-Archi district in Kunduz handcuffed a detainee, beat him with their rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers on his arms, legs, and back and squeezed his testicles. They were demanding the location of an alleged weapon."
"At a provincial ANP headquarters in Khost, after denying that he was a member of the Taliban, a boy aged 16 was pushed to the floor as a police interrogator beat him on the backs of his thighs, lower back, and head first with a wooden stick and then with a rubber hose and an electrical cable. The boy thumb-printed a confession."
"Also at ANP headquarters in Khost, police officers tortured a 16-year-old boy during interrogation over three days. A stick was tied between his legs and he was beaten on the soles of his feet with a cable and a pipe. He was also subjected to electric shocks on his thumbs. The boy was forced to thumb-print documents confessing to crimes."
"At Kunduz provincial ANP headquarters, a 16-year-old boy was tortured. A police officer interrogated him asking if he was a Taliban and told him he should confess to the charges. The boy refused and he was slapped and kicked repeatedly. The police officer forced the child's thumb-print on a piece of paper."
"I was arrested in the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan almost --- months ago by border police. They were undertaking search operations. I was travelling on a commercial vehicle. Border police were searching every vehicle and everyone travelling on those vehicles. They searched my body and found a letter sent by someone to a friend in Kandahar. I was carrying the letter. They arrested me and kept me in a room. In the night two border police officers came and interrogated me. They asked me to tell about the letter and Taliban activities. I said I did not know. Those officers made me lie on my chest and beat me with their boots. They asked if the letter belonged to me. They transported me to NDS headquarters in Kandahar on the following day. I spent four days on the veranda of the NDS detention office. On the fourth day in the night, around 9pm, NDS officials called for an investigation. They crossed my hands (hands folded left hand from the top of my shoulder and right hand from my waist) and tied them on my back. There were three officers. Two of them held me and third one beat me. He had black electric wires [wide like a thumb] and beat me on my hands, back and head. The beating lasted for almost three hours. During the beating, they asked me to confess that I was transporting Taliban letters to Afghanistan and back to Pakistan. I denied the allegations. After the interrogation and beating, they left me in the veranda for next four days. They did not interrogate me any further. On the eighth day after my arrival, they took me to their detention facility. There were many detainees in the veranda. NDS officials would take them inside one by one and beat them during investigation. I spent two months and 20 days in NDS detention altogether. I never saw an NDS prosecutor. One month ago, I was taken to the court. I was sentenced to two years imprisonment for "carrying Taliban letter. Except those arrested by Canadians, every single person arrested by NDS officials has to go through the similar experience I went through. Even the detainees handed over by Americans are interrogated by NDS and tortured. For those arrested by Canadians, two NDS officials were allocated for further interrogation and those interrogated by them never complained about illtreatment by NDS officials. - Detainee 372, March 2011
The National Directorate of Security receives funding from a number of occupying force belligerents including the US, UK and Germany. Despite chronic evidence of endemic torture practised by the NDS, that funding continues. The US also provides logistical, material and criminal task force advice and assistance to the NDS along with contractors and an intelligence gathering component which the NDS use to carry out its operations against those it claims are involved in armed insurrection.
A nation that does not have a functioning judiciary, alongside a nation that is occupied by a foreign body, and where arbitrary arrests and detentions occur frequently throughout all provinces, is one that can never reconcile under any banner excepting the banner of resistance to injustice. In Afghanistan, the occupying forces of both the United Kingdom and the United States, alongside domestic militia, are actively obstructing the natural motivation of the people of that country to a state of peace and reconciliation. The UNAMA report goes on to say:
"Torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention by the NDS and ANP are not only serious violations of human rights and crimes they also pose obstacles to reconciliation and reintegration processes aimed at ending the armed conflict in Afghanistan. UNAMA's research along with the findings of other experts who have analysed the emergence and growth of the insurgency post-2001, highlights that such abuses in many cases contributed to individual victims joining or rejoining the Taliban and other anti- Government armed groups."
"The findings in this report bring into focus a tension between programmes the Government of Afghanistan launched to promote reintegration and reconciliation with insurgents and abusive practices, particularly against conflict-related detainees, by ANP and NDS officials. The Government's Peace and Reintegration Programme established incentives for insurgents to resolve grievances, reconcile with and reintegrate into their communities. At the same time, ANP and NDS abuses continue to provide individuals with an incentive to put their security in the hands of anti-Government elements and to fight actively against the Government."
While many may claim that torture is an acceptable strategy in combating terrorism, in reality the methods used are indiscriminate, illogical and prone to serious errors. Above all, the use of torture does not in any way allow for a comprehensive or cogent identification of those actually engaged in acts of insurrection, nor does it allow for a coherent placing of anti-government forces into the criminal justice system. The use of torture is a 'make-do' strategy that is acting to build guilt around the general populace while at the same time building resistance to occupation.
The serial human rights abuses freely undertaken by the NDS and ANP, the lack of oversight by US and UK occupying forces, along with clear and consistent complacency on the part of the government of Afghanistan, clearly indicate that peace in the region is neglected to such a degree, that inevitable insurgency and anti-government feeling results. As this evidence clearly indicates, neither the United States or the United Kingdom, or allied nations, are able to build any coherent peace or security in the region under the terms of military occupation. And that a continued military presence in Afghanistan by the US and UK is, in and of itself, the primary motivator for insurgency, violence and chronic lack of security.
A decade of war, and a decade of resistance to the US occupation of Afghanistan.
A decade of war, and a decade of resistance to the US occupation of Afghanistan.
After ten years of occupation by the United States and its allies, Afghanistan is a place of endemic lawlessness12 and chronic human rights abuses. To date there have been around 165,000 casualties taken by all sides with the United States combat and contractor belligerent forces, along with allies and Afghan law enforcement taking just over 102,000 casualties. Much of the civilian population have had their communities and homesteads destroyed and the larger part of the civilian populace is now ideologically opposed to occupying forces and in league with anti-occupation partisans. There is little or no civil infrastructure outside of Kabul, vital services such as water, road, rail, hospitals and community facilities are non-existent, much of the countries mountainous regions are effectively no go areas for coalition troops and the heart of the occupation, is now under attack by anti-occupation forces. Tribal loyalties are stronger now than they have ever been in the past, attempts to train and prepare local law enforcement to undertake their own security are infested with corruption and arms smuggling, and key figures close to the Karzai regime are falling to successful assassinations.
In the west, the heart of this occupation, the domestic population is flooded with cheap and clumsy propaganda designed to appeal to our basest instincts. We are daily subjected to division and the malevolent narrative of nationalism and patriotism in the form of anti-Talib propaganda. In the online environment, almost uniquely among social media that originates from the United States, major anti-Islamic sentiment exists in its most poisonous unedited form, all under the cover of freedom of speech. Among the mainstream media, this poison is extracted, re-formulated and refashioned, into the voice of reason, for no other reason than to make the propaganda appear reasonable when stood aside its contrived cousin. Among it all, the voice of independence and objectivity is turned over to our natural international opponents or to apolitical organisations here at home, who smother that voice with real-politic to suit and enhance their own agenda's.
Among the US military, the continuing narrative that they remain in occupation of Afghanistan as a result of the atrocity of September 11th 2001, is now neither a realistic or accurate justification for continued occupation. Far more people have been killed in Afghanistan than were killed in New York. Democracy has not taken root in the country, and the civil infrastructure around security in that country does not bear any resemblance to any other nation around the world excepting military dictatorship. US service personnel continue to exhibit a fundamental inability to accurately describe the people of Afghanistan, or the complex and delicate arrangement of tribal loyalties and relationships between those tribes.
Despite an international tour in 2008 and 2009, in which the US democratic President, Barack Obama, made clear his opposition to the apolitical posture of his Republican equivalent, no competent or realistic attempt has been made to draw down occupation forces in Afghanistan, and no attempt has been made to change the vitriol of hatred that pervades the US political system. The US political system, is no more aware of the situation in Afghanistan, than its military representatives. With compelling regularity, the Whitehouse continue to offer false-cues in place of meaningful reduction in military personnel, all while failing to mention that the vast bulk of US belligerence in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, comes in the form of civilian contractors, not uniformed military personnel.
After ten years of conflict in Afghanistan, the United States can show little progress in its fight against international terrorism, but can now show competent and compelling evidence that it has become a menace on the international stage, racked by structural economic, social, cultural, diplomatic, political, tactical and strategic problems in abundance.