Do we need guns to establish our rights?

By Kamran Mir Hazar People in Daikondi have been demonstrating for several days, asking the government and international community to discharge the corrupt governor Orazgoni and a judge accused of sexual abuse, Shirzad. They also want the immediate release five individuals who were imprisoned for disclosing information about official corruption and sexual abuse in Daikondi. The five are also outspoken promoters of the necessity for building passable roads, adequate schools and health clinics in their deprived area.

They claim that the Karzai government and the international community have done nothing to assist Daikondi. Despite several days of peaceful demonstrations by more than a thousand men, women and children of all ages, there has been no notice by the Afghan government or local or international media. Local Afghan media, understandably, fears to speak because of the history of repercussions from Afghan government officials.

Why does the international aid community and the Afghan government spend millions of dollars in provinces where poppies, the drug business, terrorists and the Taliban flourish. Why do they not help the peaceful province Daikondi where the Hazaras live? According toOxfam, in 2007, the total budget for Daikondi’s Agriculture Department was only 2,400 USD. Many suspect this is part of the on-going pattern of ethnic discrimination being practiced against the Hazara people of Daikondi.

Are we criminals when we demonstrate? Are we criminals when we do not grow poppy? Are we criminals when we refuse to join the Taliban? Are we criminals when our children have no school and either learn by themselves or in an open field? Are we criminals when we know that the best way to improve our lives is through education?

According to the Afghanistan Ministry of Higher Education, students from Daikondi rank second in national exams for university admission, just behind students from Bamian. Bamian is another province where Hazaras are located. The Taliban destroyed two well-known Buddah sculptures there in 2001. Hazaras believe that their difficulties are a continuation of the discrimination and genocide accomplished primarily to remove all signs of Hazara culture in Afghanistan.

The government and President Hamid Karzai himself have promised several times to build a main road between Kabul-Bamian but have done nothing. Same as Bamian which has the only female governor of Afghanistan, and Daikondi, which has the only female mayor in Afghanistan is there.

People in Daikondi say they will continue their protest for their rights in a civilized way, and will not use guns, like so many others.


Published in Kabul Press (Wednesday 29 April 2009)

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