Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sayed Is Free. Lubna Al-Hussein Is Not. Plus: Who "Deserves" to Be Raped?

When I was in Afghanistan last fall, Jafar Rasuli, a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, told me that one way or another, Karzai would see to it that Sayed Parvez Kambaksh would be free. Rasuli said that Karzai had assured him that he wouldn't have the young journalist rotting in prison for the rest of his life any more than he'd allow one of his own children to suffer such a fate.

As things turned out, Karzai quietly pardoned Kambaksh some weeks ago.

This is happy-making, but it's not bloody well good enough. Kambaksh was illegally arrested, illegally tried, and illegally imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. You don't build a free press by leaving it to the whims of your president: "Both the judiciary and the Afghan government must realize that if they are to fully succeed in bringing democracy to the country they must acknowledge the right of journalists to seek, receive and impart information in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Ditto Gambia.

Meanwhile, in Sudan, the journalist Lubna Al-Hussein has refused to kowtow to an offer that she could pay a fine rather than face the lash for the crime of wearing trousers. Al-Hussein had already resigned from her U.N. media job to waive her immunity as an international worker, and continues to stand her ground. Dozens of brave Sudanese withstood tear gas and police batons to muster a rally to support her yesterday. Scores were injured and 47 women are reported to have been arrested. It's all really about interference by "the west," of course. After all, it's always somebody else's fault.

Meanwhile, there are a few people here for whom I would have to be convinced to lift a finger if they were rotting their lives away in some Afghan dungeon. One does have to be possessed of an tremendous equanimity in these matters, but there can come a point when all that's left to say is: Hell, you won't be able to count on me to turn the other cheek this time, I'm afraid, I've got more important things to do.

Is this wrong? Maybe. Which brings us to today's mystery question. Who said this?

"We all have to go one day, but pray God let it not be over Afghanistan. An unspeakable country filled with unspeakable people, sheepshaggers and smugglers … I yield to none in my sympathy to those prostrate beneath the Russian jackboot, but if ever a country deserved rape it's Afghanistan.'"

No peeking.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

He really said that? I am speechless. But if so I have a roughcut 2 by 4 he can kiss.

12:23 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/09/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

7:35 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home