Annals of Liberation: 'Good War' Goons Crush Press Freedom

For a media story that might possibly be slightly more important than the momentous blogswarm victory over Chris Matthews, concerned netizens could turn their attention to the atrocious case of Sayed Perwiz Kaambaksh, a 23-year-old Afghan student who has been sentenced to death for printing an allegedly blasphemous article downloaded from the internet, as CNN reports.

Kaambaksh was tried in a closed court, without legal representation, by officials of the government installed by George Bush's "good war" crusade to, you know, liberate the Afghan people from the religious repression of Taliban extremists.

But it seems that in this case – as in so many others – religious crankery is being used as a cover for political chicanery. The real target is apparently Kaambaksh's older brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, who is "one of the leading independent journalists in the region and [who] has written numerous stories that detail human rights abuses," according to Jean Mackenzie, Afghan bureau director of country director of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. [On a personal note, it so happens that Jean Mackenzie – like her fellow Afghanistan reporter Carlotta Gall -- was also one of my colleagues at the Moscow Times years ago.] CNN reports:


Among [Ibrahimi's] best-known pieces was an expose of the "dancing boys," teenage boys who dress up as girls and dance for male patrons at parties thrown by some commanders in northern Afghanistan. In other reports, Ibrahimi has named government officials who extort money from locals, MacKenzie said.

The day after Kaambaksh was arrested, authorities paid Ibrahimi a visit and combed through his computer and notebooks looking for names of sources who helped him in his reporting…"This is why we think this is tied to (Ibrahimi)," she said.

The case is like a perfect transplant of the noxious Bush-era ethos: Huckabee-like theocrats operating with Cheney-like secrecy cover up sexual hypocrisy and rampant corruption by McCain-like militarists with Romney-style disregard for due process and Guiliani-like draconian punishment.

But far more important than these domestic echoes is the very real danger hanging over the life of Kaambaksh. Perhaps if enough noise is made about his plight, the resulting bad PR will cause the satrap appointed by our own autocrat to grant clemency. For yes, that is what are reduced to in our ultra-modern 21st-century world: pleading for mercy from tyrants and their tools, just like the lowliest serf coming in supplication to the Tsar.

So what about it, blog warriors? Is the case of Kaambaksh worth a swarm?

***