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Speech to rally in Welington
27 October 2001
I was born on the 8th of October 1979 to an Afghan father and a New Zealand mother. I have never seen my father's homeland, never smelt the flowers of their famous gardens and never visited the city of his childhood. When I was barely three months old when Russia invaded on the 27th of December 1979. There has been war in Afghanistan my whole life and I wonder if I ever will be able to visit the land of my fathers childhood, or if there will be anything left when I do.
22 years of war has plunged the country into a desperate situation, the land is scorched and the people broken. When you talk to Afghans about their country you can see the tears in their eyes and the pain in their heart. You are left with only one question why?
Why did little Najimu and her brother Hameed Ullah loose 8 family members when the U.S. missed their target and bombed their house? Why is it that when hundreds of Afghans are killed by U.S. bombs the media say that "these claims cannot be independently confirmed"? Why will the U.S. not stop attacking to let in vital supplies for the winter months without which 7.5 million Afghans are sentenced to death? Why have Afghanistans neighbours been allowed to seal their borders? Is it because this allows the world to close its eyes and ears to the plight of the Afghan people?
Why have the Afghan people suffered for years under UN and US imposed sanctions? - Because of someone called Osama Bin Laden. Why do they now bear the brunt of US attacks, only further crippling their already broken country? - Because of someone called Osama Bin Laden. Who is Osama Bin Laden? - The Afghan people do not know they have not seen him or heard his name. In a country where it is a daily struggle to stay alive they worry about finding food to feed their children, warmth to stop them freezing to death in their arms, safety from mines that are not Afghan but British or American and make the country the most heavily landmined in the world.
What time do they have to worry about the Spectre of an international terrorist? What they know is what they see and every day they see the United States of America dropping bombs on their homes, their villages, and their hospitals. They see their children, their husbands, their wives and their elders being buried. And they see the unexploded bombs that will continue to poisen their land for generations with the words from "New York city" and "Heres your Ramadan present". And once again they ask the question Why?
The Afghan people have not asked for war they ask for peace, yet their voices have been drowned out by anthrax hysteria and US military officers in front of grayed out computer screens talking of collateral damage and strategic targets. Targets which have been mostly Afghan people, women and children. Yet this is not an unforeseen circumstance of war it is the norm. In the wars of today 90% of deaths are civilian.
My whole life I have lived in peace and security, yet if I had been born in Afghanistan I would have known exactly the opposite. 97% of Afghan children have witnessed violence and 40% have lost a parent. I still have both my mother and father and Afghan child can only dream of such security. For the children of Afghanistan have known war all their lives, they do not get the chance to go to school, to play, to eat, to sleep. Every part of their day is affected by war and they can never escape it. 45% of fighting forces are child soldiers and 400,000 children have died fighting in the Afghan war. While I am able to go to university Afghan children are forced to fight and die in a war the have not asked for and do not want.
Today we have opened our eyes and our ears to what is happening to the Afghan people and most importantly we are opening our mouths and telling the world that we will not tolerate this. As New Zealanders we need to tell our government that we do not want our SAS troops in war, we do not want them killing innocent people, what we want is for our hercules planes to be loaded with food and blankets and medicine and flown to Afghanistan where we can help to save Afghan lives.
Jamilla Homayun. Rally for peace in Wellington, part of the International Day of Action to Stop War and End Racism.