Tomgram: Ann Jones, Afghan Women Behind Closed Doors

August 29, 2008

[Note for TomDispatch readers: This is the third and last post in a pre-Labor-Day “best of TomDispatch” series — and a good reminder that yesterday’s story at this site may turn out to be tomorrow’s headlines. Back in February 2007, I wrote of our “forgotten war” in Afghanistan. There, civilians were dying in startling numbers, as they are today, and the Taliban was proving resurgent, as it also is today. I listed a set of grim then-recent headlines about those civilian deaths and added: “So goes the repetitive, if ever deepening, tragedy of our other war — and under such headlines lie massive tragedies that seldom make the headlines anywhere. Ann Jones, who has spent much time as a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan these last years and wrote a moving book, Kabul in Winter, on her experiences, turns to one of those tragedies: the fate of Afghan women.”

A year and a half later, with the U.S. reportedly planning to ship 12,000-15,000 extra troops to Afghanistan early next year, that tragedy only deepens and, far from turning into ancient history, Jones’s piece might as well have been written yesterday. Or tomorrow — for no matter who becomes president in January 2009, those extra troops are likely to be but an American downpayment on further grim headlines and more suffering for Afghan women.

As you may know, this post by Ann Jones is now in print, chapter 14 of The World According to TomDispatch, America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008). It’s a book that helps explain tomorrow’s headlines. Why not buy a copy for your friends today — or tomorrow? Tom]

Surging in Afghanistan: Too Much, Too Late?

Despite George W. Bush’s claim that he’s “truly not that concerned” about Osama bin Laden, the administration is erecting 10 “Wanted” billboards in Afghanistan, offering rewards of $25 million for bin Laden, $10 million for Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and $1 million for Adam Gadahn, an American member of Al Qaeda, now listed as a “top terrorist.” That’s 10 nice, big, literal signs that the administration is waking up, only seven years after 9/11 and the American “victory” that followed, to its “forgotten war.”

When I wrote this piece for TomDispatch in February 2007, I’d been working intermittently since 2002 with women in Afghanistan — women the Bush administration claimed to have “liberated” by that victory. In all those years, despite some dramatic changes on paper, the real lives of most Afghan women didn’t change a bit, and many actually worsened thanks to the residual widespread infection of men’s minds by germs of Taliban “thought.” Today, Afghanistan is the only country in the world where women outdo men when it comes to suicide.

To transfer those changes from paper to the people, “victory” in Afghanistan should have been followed by the deployment of troops in sufficient numbers to ensure security. Securing the countryside might have enabled the Karzai government installed in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to extend its authority while international humanitarian organizations helped Afghans rebuild their country. As everyone knows, of course, that’s hardly what happened.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Walk for Justice FRIDAY 6:30 PM, welcome women to Toronto – TOMORROW

August 29, 2008

Walk4Justice (a 4,700-kilometre trek from Vancouver to Ottawa) Arrives in Toronto to Raise Awareness About Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women

Welcome Reception: Friday August 29th, First Nations House (563 Spadina Ave.)
A meal will be served and the walkers will address the public & the media beginning at 6:30pm.

Hope to see some of you there!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Walk4Justice (a 4,700-kilometre trek from Vancouver to Ottawa) Arrives in Toronto to Raise Awareness About Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women

(August 27, 2008) Hundreds of Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada over the last decades. These tragic deaths received little public attention until Amnesty International took the unprecedented step of investigating a host country, Canada. The organization linked the disproportionate levels of violence experienced by Indigenous women to governmental polices and called the situation a human rights tragedy. While the public is well aware of the horrors that were committed at a Port Coquitlam Farm few know that one third of the women killed were Indigenous. Recently, in one weekend in Toronto the Native community lost Carolyn Connelly and Katelynn Sampson who was only 7 – both murdered.

The Walk4Justice publicly addresses the key issues faced by marginalized, missing, and murdered Indigenous women and their families. They will present a petition to Parliament Hill on September 15th and demand a national inquiry into these deaths and disappearances.

The Walk4Justice is organized by Gladys Radek, whose niece Tamara Chipman went missing on BC’s Highway of Tears, and Bernie Williams, a front-line worker in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, where many Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered. The Walkers left Vancouver on June 21st and arrive in Toronto on August 29th.

The media is welcome at the following public events, organized to welcome and honour the Walk4Justice as they pass through Toronto:

Welcome Reception: Friday August 29th, First Nations House (563 Spadina Ave.)
A meal will be served and the walkers will address the public & the media beginning at 6:30pm.

Public Send-Off: September 2nd, 9am at Allen Gardens (across from the Native Women’s Resource Centre, 191 Gerrard St.). The Walkers will be continuing on to Tyendinaga on September 2nd, and arriving in Ottawa on September 12th. They will be on Parliament Hill September 15th.

A full day of events has been planned at Six Nations, where the Walkers will be welcomed by Bev Jacobs, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. They will also visit the Six Nations Polytechnic, where a tree has been planted in memory of Tashina General, murdered last Spring at the age of 21, and her unborn son, Tucker.

For more information, please contact:

− Audrey Huntley, No More Silence Network Toronto: 416-508-8632
− Gladys Radek, Walk4Justice Organizer: 778-839-0072
− Norma General, Grandmother to Tashina General (Six Nations) 519-445-4238
− Bev Jacobs, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada: 613-878-6922