Love letters from Kabul – a fairer life for all
Letters from an Afghan boy, an Afghan girl & a Singaporean doctor
Dear friends and fellow human beings,
1st November, 2012 ( Gregorian calendar )
11th Aqrab, 1391 ( Afghan calendar )
Like yourself, Abdulhai, Samia and I live in a world that is not well. There are growing inequalities and angry conflicts, and the air in Kabul is getting increasingly polluted.
Are the three of us well?
“I’m 16 years old. I want to be happy, but when I see how human beings ignore or treat one another, I feel alone,” says Abdulhai (pictured below), who carries an inner burden created by the loss of his father.
Samia (pictured below),“I’m 13 years old and I want to learn to read and write. I also want to help my family have enough food at home…it isn’t easy to feel hungry.”
And I’m a 43 year old Singaporean physician whose name is Young and whose given Afghan nickname is Hakim. Afghan friends, like Abdulhai and Samia, have changed my life over the past 10 years, as I learn with them about meeting basic needs and improving livelihoods. I thought I was educated, until I peered beyond orphan boy Najib’s tearful eyes, and saw our modern world making children cry from hopelessness.
The three of us thought that we’ll write letters to you as friends and fellow human beings, with me as the translator-scribe, to tell you stories of our lives in 21st century Afghanistan.
We have no political or religious affiliation or aims, and we’re not looking for funds. We are ordinary people, warts and all.
We’re a little nervous about being vulnerable with you, so we’ll have to fall back on the shared hope that all human beings want to love and be loved, and long to be free.
Love letters from Kabul – a fairer life for all
Please join us.
Abdulhai, Samia and Hakim
NB Before our first letter next week, please take time to see the late Rachel Corrie speak of the shared hope of a fairer life for all when she was 11 years old, in this video clip “I’m here because I care” . In 2003, Rachel was crushed by an Israel Defense Forces armored bulldozer in Rafah, West Bank, when she stood to block the demolition of Palestinian homes. We’re privileged to know Rachel’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie.
Abdulhai, Samia and I will try to pen our sentiments weekly or fortnightly under the following letter headings….
Our letter on basic needs
Our letter on a fairer education
Our letter on fairer livelihoods
Our letter on family
Our letter on friends
Our letter on a fairer community
Our letter on a fairer world
Our letter on safety
Our letter on fairer thoughts
Our letter on emotions
Our letter on deeper emotions
Our letter on fairer beliefs
Our letter on fairer money
Our letter on fairer power
Our letter on fairer hopes
Our letter on fairer dignities
Our letter on love
The battle over SB1070 has gone all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to untangle where federal rights meet state rights, what constitutes racial profiling, and who at the end of the day is responsible for creating immigration reform.
The government is arguing that the law promotes racial profiling and over steps into a policy area that belongs on a federal level. The states are arguing that they have both a right and an obligation to deal with people who are undocumented within their own contexts and that while the law could create circumstances of racial profiling that would only be if it was abused by law enforcement.
The list of questions presented to the court are all worthy and represent key facets of democracy, human rights, and balance of power. At the heart of these questions is how we understand citizenship. Is it a special status that restricts the distribution of legal rights? Or is it a legal reality that confers on each of us a special responsibility for how we welcome and integrate those who come into our borders?
Sojourners and many other faith leaders feel that it is the latter. In light of that they invite those who feel that SB1070 represents a failure of democracy, human rights, and the balance of powers to write letters to their editors. Check out the link below and join the call to never understand a human being as illegal.
“I seek mercy for the women stoned and their accomplice the darkness of night….Desanka Maksimovic
Dear All – I am sure many of you may have heard about the recent passage of a law in Afghanistan stripping Shia Afghani women of fundamental rights. Under this new law, “…women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husbands’ sex.”
President Karzai has promised to review the law and even possibly repeal it because it violates fundamental human rights. However, the law points to a troubling trend in Afghanistan and with our engagement of Afghanistan. A trend where we decry the violence and inequities women face but do little concretely to ensure a socio-political space for women to safely inhabit.
I am pasting below a letter drafted by Amnesty International that can be sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; it urges for certain steps to be taken to begin to repair the damage done to human rights in Afgahnistan. Below the letter is a link to the Secretary of State’s “Contact Us” Web page and mailing address.
The letter speaks specifically of human rights defenders in Afghanistan being protected. This is very important as it is ensuring that the solutions for women in Afghanistan come from the women of Afghanistan. What we do as international allies is hold open the space for those solutions to be dreamed, debated and implemented rather then creating answers outside of the context.
Join me in letting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton know that we are concerned for the women of Afghanistan and believe that since the U.S. invasion in 2001 we bear a unique responsibility to act. Much Peace Liz
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing to urge you to support the work of Women Human Rights Defenders in Afghanistan and to immediately take effective measures to ensure that they are able to carry out their vital work, without fear of violence and intimidation.
The October 2001 US-led international intervention in Afghanistan was accompanied by a pledge by the Afghan government to protect women’s rights and promote gender equality in Afghanistan. Women human rights defenders play a key role in advancing these concerns, for example, by running safe houses for women at risk, raising awareness on child and forced marriages and providing education programmes and family planning services. Sadly, many come under attack for their work, which is often portrayed mistakenly as challenging the religious and social order in Afghanistan.
In many instances women human rights defenders have faced death threats and kidnapping attempts against themselves and their families, as well as physical attacks, including acid attacks. Tragically some, like the journalist Zakia Zaki in 2007, have been killed for raising their voice, while others have fled the country.
I urge you to support the work of Human Rights Defenders and, in particular, take the following steps to:
- promote and implement the principles in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998), including the right to communicate views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- ensure that Human Rights Defenders are able to discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance of all human rights and draw public attention to these matters without fear of persecution or punishment;
- ensure that Human Rights Defenders benefit from an effective remedy in the event of violation of their rights and are protected by law and in practice;
- promote public awareness of the role and work of Human Rights Defenders;
- promote awareness among police and other officials of the role and work of Women Human Rights Defenders, including by providing appropriate training to police and other state officials;
- establish a national plan for the promotion and protection of human rights, including both civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights, and emphasizing their universality and indivisibility, and the role and work of Human Rights Defenders, in line with commitments enshrined in the Afghanistan Compact.
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
As Ella Baker, the civil rights organizer, famously said of Martin Luther King, “Martin didn’t make the movement, the movement made Martin.”
Dear All – I found this article on Truthout and I wanted to share it with all of you because I feel it captures the energy in this new “Obama” moment well.
It highlights the the incredible importance of having our first President of color as well as the incredible potential in what Obama has promised on the campaign trail. It also notes that the fullest realization of those promises are not dependent on Obama alone but require for each of us to pay attention, advocate, and demand that Obama and his administration follow through on what they named as their priorities.
We sit at a unique crossroads in our history; the economy, international relationships, environment, and human rights practices are at all time lows, each in differing states of severe disrepair. What Obama faces is monumental – what we face as a nation and as a world is monumental, historic, and vastly critical for the well being of earth and all of creation.
In this season of expectant waiting it feels the perfect time to stop and reflect on the deep dreams of this “Obama moment” as well as the deep needs of the world and begin to imagine the way forward. A way marked not by one man or one position of power but shaped by the many voices, hands, visions, and dreams that make up the whole. Peace Liz
FSPA JPICC Coordinator
8th Day Center f orJustice
205 W. Monroe Chicago, IL 60606