News from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
RAWA News


 

 

 

Add RAWA RSS Feed to Feedreaders



 




 


RAWA Photo Gallery
From RAWA Photo Gallery
 


Help RAWA: Order from our wish list on Amazon.com

RAWA Channel on Youtube

Follow RAWA on Twitter

Join RAWA on Facebook


The Guardian, April 22, 2010

No friendly waves only hatred for British troops in Afghan town

In Sangin all you can feel is the intense hatred of people who hate everything you stand for, says photographer David Gill

By Jon Boone

afghans_protest_bus_killings.jpg
The Globe and Mail (Apr. 13, 2010): U.S. troops fired on a crowded passenger bus on the outskirts of Kandahar city, killing four civilians and injuring 18 others, stoking anti-American protests that promised to complicate a massive offensive against Taliban insurgents this summer. Monday’s shooting appeared to confirm those fears, with angry Afghans spilling into the streets, burning tires and chanting “Death to America.”

In Sangin all you can feel is the intense hatred of people who hate everything you stand for, says photographer David Gill

As with so many of the Helmand towns where the British are present the bazaar in Sangin is officially "thriving".

Indeed, recent visitors have to admit that there are signs of commerce in the long thin strip of shops. But the rest, says David Gill, a photographer who visited Sangin three times last year, is like "a ghost town in Death Valley where you drive through and all you see is a sign flapping in the wind".

In some of the more benign areas of Helmand children may offer the occasional wave to passing soldiers, but in Sangin all you can feel is the "intense hatred of a people who hate everything you stand for", Gill says. Development work has been glacial. The new "traditional courthouse" is little more than a room with six plastic chairs.

When the British arrived in June 2006 they had to fight while filling sandbags and constructing their base at FOB (Forward Operation Base) Jackson. Sometimes the base came close to being overrun.

The figures for British deaths in Sangin and its immediate surroundings make stark reading: of the 281 servicemen and women who have died in Afghanistan, 88 lost their lives there.

For some soldiers the notoriety of the posting brings out grim humour. They wear T-shirts with the motif "Wishtan you were here?", in reference to the notorious FOB Wishtan, with a mixture of pride and irony.

It took months to clear all the alleyways around Wishtan that had been intensively seeded with homemade bombs. No wonder Jerry Thomas, the brigadier in charge of British forces in Helmand when they first moved into Sangin, was said to be deeply sceptical about the wisdom of the move.

Today fighting is still intense, and in army spokesman Gordon Messenger's words, Sangin is "the most challenging area in which British troops operate".

Now the district is officially the country's most lethal place for foreign forces, responsible for more than 10% of daily casualties of the entire Nato mission, as a result of its particularly poisonous mix of drugs and tribal warfare. With lots of water and fertile land, Sangin is perfect for growing the poppies currently being harvested for their opium sap.

Sangin is also well suited as a trafficking hub because of its proximity to the national ring road, putting cities such as Herat and Kandahar in easy reach.

The drugs industry has every reason to fight against attempts to assert government control, making natural allies of the insurgents in the district.

The Afghan government is in no position to assert itself against such powerful narco-traffickers who hopelessly compromise what little government capacity does exist. According to a Kabul-based diplomat last year the district had only 50 Afghan policemen and about 350 soldiers.

The abusive and corrupt police force, whose members think nothing of beating and stealing from local people, has been a constant problem, with the British seen as the enforcement mechanism for deeply corrupt Afghan authorities.

Drugs and weak government are further complicated by a complex tribal situation. The fighting between armed factions during Afghanistan's civil war in the 1990s helped to fragment and weaken traditional tribal authority.

"The picture that emerges is one where a minority tribe controls the government and the majority, which is not in government, control the heroin. Everyone else gets angry and joins the Taliban," says one Kabul diplomat with knowledge of Helmand.

The people of Sangin blame inter-tribal fighting and the drug trade for the dire security situation, but also hold the foreign soldiers responsible for the chaos.

According to two farmers currently staying in Lashkar Gah who were contacted by the Guardian but did not want to be named, the behaviour of the British is by the far the biggest problem.

One said: "The Taliban do not even have a bakery that they can give bread to the people, but still most people support the Taliban – that's because people are sick of night raids and being treated badly by the foreigners."

Category: US-NATO, HR Violations, Protest - Views: 8229


Related

19.04.2010: McCHRYSTAL LOST IN AFGHANISTAN, IS IGNORANCE THE REAL EXCUSE?
19.04.2010: Britain ‘hands over prisoners in Afghanistan to face torture’
19.04.2010: Rising Anti-Westernism in Afghanistan
16.04.2010: ‘Blood money’ angers Afghans
13.04.2010: Anti-American anger grows in Afghanistan
12.04.2010: NATO troops kill 4 Afghans on bus - provincial official
27.03.2010: NATO Tries to Silence a Truth-Teller in Afghanistan After Killing Pregnant Women
15.03.2010: Survivors of family killed in Afghanistan raid threaten suicide attacks
14.03.2010: Nato ‘covered up’ botched night raid in Afghanistan that killed five
12.02.2010: Bodies found gagged, bound after Afghan ‘honor killing’
10.03.2010: One Month of the Obama Killing Machine in Afghanistan: Data and a Lesson for the UNAMA and its Groupies
23.02.2010: Afghans call for Nato to leave after airstrike kills 27 civilians
24.02.2010: UN: 346 Afghan children killed in 2009, more than half by NATO
22.02.2010: NATO Afghanistan airstrike kills 27 civilians
20.02.2010: NATO air strike kills seven Afghan policemen in Kunduz
16.02.2010: Team America Kills Five Kids in Marja
17.02.2010: Bodies of 12 civilians killed by NATO handed over to families
16.02.2010: NATO troops kill more civilians
16.02.2010: Team America Kills Five Kids in Marja
13.02.2010: Villagers accuse US Special Forces for killing five civilians
06.02.2010: Afghan police kill seven boys collecting firewood
22.01.2010: Obama quietly continues to defend Bush’s terror policies
15.01.2010: At least 20 killed in Afghan suicide bomb attack
13.01.2010: 2009 deadliest year for Afghan civilians
07.01.2010: Civilian deaths in Afghanistan spark protests, impatience with continued violence
29.12.2009: “Four Afghan civilians killed in Baghlan air raid”
24.12.2009: Afghan Civilians allegedly killed in custody
18.12.2009: NATO air strike kills three Afghan civilians
12.12.2009: Two civilians allegedly killed by NATO forces
08.12.2009: Civilian deaths touch off anti-US protest in Laghman - Afghanistan

Latest

Most Viewed

Comments