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Free Parvez Kambaksh!

A World to Win calls on its supporters to oppose the death sentence passed on a 23-year-old journalism student in Afghanistan for daring to read and distribute material from the Internet. The conviction of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, passed and confirmed by Afghan Islamic courts and the Afghan Senate, has sparked a campaign by a revolutionary organisation, Left Radicals of Afghanistan, against the Karzai government and the country’s ruling Ulema Council.

On January 23, the Council of Religious Experts and the Provincial Council of the Mazar district as well as the country’s attorney general demanded the death sentence by stoning on the grounds of blasphemy. It accused the student of disgracing Islam, the Quran and Mohammad and breaking the constitution. Kambaksh’s “crime” was that he downloaded a report from a Farsi website and distributed it to his fellow students. The report said that the notion that the Koran justified the oppression of women was not in accordance with the prophet Mohammed’s views. In a radio interview, the district’s attorney general Hafizullah Khaliqyar said that Kambaksh “is an active Marxist who progandised his opinions to others”.

The death sentence was proposed by Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, who is close to President Karzai and is clearly an attempt to show that he is not a stooge of the NATO troops occupying the country and to curry favour with the reactionary clerics who control the Ulema as well as the Taliban. He recently denounced the British presence in Helmand.

Kambaksh is a journalism student who, like his brother Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, reported for the Jahan-I-Naw newspaper. Since being detained in the notorious National Security Department detention centre, Kambaksh has been tortured and denied access to lawyers and meetings with his family and friends. His trial was held in secret and he was not allowed a legal defence. The chief editor of Jahan-I-Naw, Qayoum Babak rejected the accusations of the attorney general, saying that reading documents and copying them from the Internet was not illegal. The Afghan Independent Journalists Association is also opposing the judgement and is asking Karzai to quash it.

But while people like Babak courageously oppose the government, the country’s new constitution legally underpins the persecution of those who seek alternatives to military occupation and the power of religious-inspired organisations like the Taliban. As Left Radicals of Afghanistan point out, the Karzai regime has a history of imprisoning and killing demonstrators and political oppositionists. Government bodies have sent letters to universities, schools and places of work warning them not to allow political activities.

Meanwhile, with the occupying NATO forces killing more Afghans than have died at the hands of the Taliban, the outlook is bleak. Seven years of occupation by US, British and other troops have deepened the internal divisions in the country, whilst causing untold suffering. A report by a leading Australian think tank concludes that any “democratic” [i.e. Western sponsored] government will still be disrupted by Taliban militants and others in 2023. “In 15-years time,” the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says, “Afghanistan is likely to be divided geographically.”

A World to Win supports Left Radicals of Afghanistan and other organisations’ call for the immediate release of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh. We demand the withdrawal of all occupying troops and campaign for a secular Afghanistan with equal rights for all faiths and genders and freedom of expression in all media.

Please send messages of support to lr_afg@yahoo.com

Corinna Lotz
Secretary, A World to Win
31 January 2008

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