Freedom's Just Another Word for Blowing up Buddhas and Killing People

The peculiar understanding of "liberation" that George W. Bush imposes upon the countries he conquers was on vivid display in Afghanistan this week. AP reports that the Taliban wild man in charge of blowing up two giant, 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha in 2001 -- an unconscionable crime against culture, against history, indeed, against humanity -- has been duly elected to parliament, where he will add his wise voice to the guidance of policy in the regime of warlords, druglords and virulent extremists installed by Bush.

No doubt the Rt. Hon. Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, MP -- former governor of Bamiyan province -- will work comfortably with President Hamid Karzai, whose "religious adviser," Mohaiuddin Baluch, has been busy jailing magazine editors who dare speak up for women's rights, religious freedom and protection from barbaric punishment. Baluch has also been keeping an eye -- a very close, focused, intense, riveted eye -- on Afghan hussies who are appearing "half-naked" in beauty pageants around the world. Their actions are "illegal under Islamic law," says Baluch, who will doubtless have the expatriate harlots jailed should they ever return to their homeland.

The Buddha-busting MP will also approve of Karzai's use of secret executions to silence whistleblowers who threaten to spill the blood-dripping beans about his partners in Bushpower. The International Herald Tribune reported this disturbing story last year -- a scandal involving mass murder, wanton terror and gruesome atrocities. Naturally, this dull subject matter was completely ignored by the American media, which at that time was fixated on the all-important question of John Kerry's 35-year-old war wounds. But as Patricia Gossman reported, Karzai's premptory execution of Abdullah Shah put the kibosh on attempts to unearth the truth of Afghanistan's anguished past -- and the key role played by Bush-backed warlords in causing that anguish.

Excerpts: Shah was widely known to be a commander under Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the leader of a militia that human rights groups say was involved in mass rape and the disappearance of hundreds of people.
 
When I interviewed Shah in jail in February, he did not deny his part in war crimes, but said Sayyaf gave the orders. He did not ask for release or claim that he was innocent - only that he be transferred to the custody of another ministry where he might have some protection from what he said were plans to silence him....

Since the defeat of the Taliban, Sayyaf has had extraordinary power over Karzai. Shortly after the interim government was established in December 2001, Sayyaf leaned on Karzai to appoint as Supreme Court chief justice Mawlavi Fazl Hadi Shinwari, an extremely conservative former head of a religious school in Pakistan. Shinwari has since appointed like-minded mullahs as judges across Afghanistan, with the power to ban any law they deem contrary to the "beliefs and provisions" of Islam.
 
In a revealing move, Shinwari said that Shah should be executed, even before the trial was over. And the trial, Amnesty International said, fell short of international standards: Shah had no defense counsel and witnesses were not subject to cross-examination. The execution, Amnesty said, "may have been an attempt by powerful political players to eliminate a key witness to human rights abuses." [End excerpt]

Ignorance, repression, brutality, corruption, extremism, violence and death: this is what Bush means by "freedom," in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in that other sad and broken land he conquered: the United States of America.

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