Friday, July 19, 2013

We Condemn The Discrimination Against Sikhs And Hindus of Afghanistan

By  M. Amin Wahidi

In a racist action, the parliamentarians of Afghanistan refused the allocation of a single seat in the parliament for the Sikhs and Hindus minority group. Although the Sikh and Hindu people of Afghanistan have passed a long way of suffering for their religion but they are still discriminated against.
Recently the Afghan Parliament has passed the election bill, which was under discussion for a long time because of its controversial articles regarding allocation of seats in the parliament for the vulnerable categories such as women and religious and ethnic minorities. The bill is passed by both houses of the parliament and is awaiting President’s signature to be put in act.
The vulnerable categories were listed in the proposed bill as the women, the Kochis (nomads) and the Hindus and Sikhs.

The allocation of certain number of seats for Kochis and for women was approved but the Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan remained with no seats, which is a sign of religious discrimination against a group of the citizens while in the constitution of Afghanistan, the citizens are guaranteed equal rights and opportunities regardless of their ethnicity, race and religion so, if they women are considered vulnerable, they Sikhs and Hindus are also vulnerable and there numerous of proof cases for this fact. 

In the constitution of Afghanistan there are articles such as 2nd, 6th, 22nd and 24th that emphasize on freedom of religions for non-Muslims and then equal opportunities for all citizens of the country.    
Afghanistan is a country with an absolute majority of Muslims but we have Sikhs, Hindus and Christians who are considered as very vulnerable religious minority groups and need to be protected, given equal opportunities and fair treatment as every other citizen in the country, and in some cases they have to be given compensatory opportunities for their long sufferings because of discrimination against them.   
Afghanistan is a home for different ethnicity and different cultures and our Sikh and Hindu fellows, not only have the same rights as every one else, but they should also be given more opportunities and be compensated for all injustice and misbehavior conducted against them through the years, that forced them limit their religious practicing, lose their wealth and properties. They were also very badly tortured by the Taliban.

Most citizens of Afghanistan know that millions of Afghanistani people are around the world as asylum seekers and refugees and tens of thousands of them have already obtained citizenship from European countries, from the USA or Australia and are enjoying the justice, fair treatments and equal opportunities in their new countries, but the way our politicians still think within the country is very stinky and disturbing; they discriminate against a religious minority of our country in a very bad manner.  
Our Hindu and Sikh brothers and sister are peaceful, positive and very potential citizens of the country who are mostly involved in small and large scale businesses in the country and have paid taxes for years in this country and their attitude has been always friendly with Muslim citizens of the country. 
They have served in the military when it was an obligatory service and have paid all their dues to the country as everyone else; it is not fair to discriminate them for their religion and culture.

In this regard Kawa Gharji an Afghanistani journalist in exile and a writer for Kabul Press has posted an ironic post on his Facebook Timeline as below;

“No pain no gain!
As the Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan did not participate in the glorious civil war and did not destroy schools, did not blast themselves, did not conduct suicide attacks, did not cultivate opium and other dangerous narcotic substances, so their quota of parliament seats will be given to the hardworking Kochi brothers.

This quota is given to the Kochis to thank them for their day and night efforts in destruction, annually attacks on Behsud, burning the farms, destroying schools, threatening school girls and women, putting remote-controlled bombs on the roads, prohibiting and divesting more than 70,000 students from education and killing the innocents and dragging their bodies on the ground by horses.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has given a chance to the Sikh and Hindu citizens of the country, to prove themselves with the above-mentioned standards but they have failed the criteria. So they did not deserve a seat in the parliament.”

First Published on : Hazara People International Network 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mullah Omar or a carrot?!

By M. Amin Wahidi

Afghanistan is the land of wonders and contradictions; it has people of different ethnicity and there are still notable undiscovered wonders and places each of which could be a wonderful landmark to this country.

Unfortunately it is a harsh truth that nowadays it is hard to find Afghanistan’s name without a negative adjective wherever you hear people talking about it; in corruption we got the worst position in the world, in barbaric killings of innocent civilians by Taliban, vastly violation of human rights especially the women’s rights, drug cultivation, growth of fundamentalism and poverty and so many more problems, there is Afghanistan’s name always on top.

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything in our country that we would feel proud of.
When you talk to the foreign people, and if they are ignorant, as soon as they know you are from Afghanistan, the first thing they say to you is; “yes, I know you are from the land of Osama Bin Laden” without knowing that Osama Bin Laden was from Saudi Arabia not from Afghanistan, or some say, “Oh, you are from the land of Taliban and women in Burqa”.

Some people who know our country for the one-eyed hidden Satan, Mullah Omar they try to keep distance from us, when we say; “we are from Afghanistan.”

The interesting thing for me was that a few months ago, a friend of mine called me,        “A man from the land of carrots”, when he got to know that I was from Afghanistan. He said this in a positive manner, emphasizing on the richness of Afghanistan, for its history, natural resources, wonderful places and landmarks.    

I didn’t know what he meant by “the land of carrots”, but at night, I went to search for it in the internet and I found that carrots of today originated thousands of years ago from the land today called Afghanistan and from there it was brought to Europe and other places of the world, and then I thought wow! I didn’t know about it that far.  

Then a question jingled in my mind, “Isn’t it better if we would be known worldwide as the land of carrots instead of the land of Mullah Omar or the Taliban?!”       

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sahar Parniyan receives death threats from unknown people after a colleague was murdered

This article was first published on Kabul Press

Sahar Parniyan the prominent Afghanistani Hazara actress said that she lives in fear after the suspicious murder of a TV actress in Kabul.
Benafsha a 22 years old TV actress was mysteriously killed in west of Kabul on Monday August 20th while well-known Hazara actress Sahar Parniyan was also threatened to death at the same time by unknown people. The victim actress, Benafsha was killed by the knives of unknown people after having a part in a show on Imroz TV.
It is said that the parts the girl played were considered against Islamic values and moralities and therefore she was prosecuted by intolerable people while going to the bakery near her home.

There were some arrests so far by the police in district six of Kabul where the murder has taken place and the police chief claims that it was a personal enmity and nothing related to her work in a television channel but people deny the police statement and believe it is a result of the growth of extremism in the country.
After this incident in Kabul, Sahar Parniyan does not dare to come out of home though she has changed her address for a few days. Contacting Kabul Press, she said that after she was threatened to death by the phone calls of unknown people who said she was the next victim, she had to call the office of Chief of Kabul Police for her security, but there she faced with neglect and disinterest.
Condemning the latest murder, Ms Parniyan says that she is going to write an open letter to the Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan, to ask for help for her security and the security of other TV actresses and women newscasters and radio and television entertainers.
When the news about the murder of Benafsha was published on BBC Persian, hundreds of Parniayn’s fans wrote messages of support on her Facebook Fan Page then she replied her fans on her Facebook wall as bellow;
“Dear my fans, I am thankful to your supports and your concerns about me, I am fine. I am very sorry for the suspicious murder of two actresses in west of Kabul. I was also threatened to death, by unknown people, to be the next victim, but I am fine right now. Just for a few days, I do not walk out of home and I have changed my address; I am just worried and a bit shocked for what happened to Benafsha and her friend. I am afraid that before 2014, extremism, terror and fundamentalism seem to be increasing that much that takes the lives of artists and activists of civil society.
My only hope is God, your encouragements and benedictions and may be the security guards. Hereafter I am forced to have security escorts with me, what can I do, it is the situation in my country!”
"دوستان عزیز، تشکر از پیام ها و نظرات و ابراز نگرانی تان درمورد سلامتی ام، حادثه ناگواری که چند روز پیش در غرب کابل رخداد جان دو تن از هنرمندان تلویزیون را گرفت، و مرا هم تهدیداتی کردند که نفر بعدی من هستم که کارم را خلاص کنند، اما تاکنون سلامتم ، فقط اینکه چند روزی است که از خانه خارج نمیشوم تشویش و دلهره ای بسیار دارم .ترسم از اینست که سال 2014 هنوز نیامده بنیاد گرایی، ترور، و ایجاد رعب و وحشت به این حد برسد و به این آسانی جان هنرمندان و فعالین مدنی را بگیرند، فعلن تنها امیدم به خدا، به دعاهای شما علاقه مندانم و شاید هم به محافظ امنیتی باشد، مجبورم از این به بعد با محافظین امنیتی گشت و گذار نمایم، چی کنم، متاسفانه کشورم چنین است"
Sahar Parniyan 21 is an athlete and actress who has role in many television fiction series in Afghanistan including Hechland AKA Ministry which is criticizing the corruption in the Afghan government. She has been the special guest on Eid days on four different television channels.
The journalists, celebrities and radio and television entertainers in Afghanistan are under pressure by different sides; the armed terrorist groups such as the Taliban, the unarmed fundamentalists in the society and the Ulama Council that is the official religious entity in the government body.
The lately growth of fundamentalism is evidently visible in different corners of the country and people concern, it might get worse in 2014 after the foreign troops will pull-out form Afghanistan. 

A couple of days ago, a concert was canceled in Herat after an extremist scholar criticized on it and asked the Ministry of Culture to cancel the concert. Then hundreds of people demonstrated to support the singer and condemn the cancellation decision of the concert.
In July this year, the works of three artists from Taasha Artist Group were confiscated by Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul and the artists were prohibited to participate in any exhibition in Afghanistan.
While so many print and media journalists have been killed, murdered, tortured and faced with violence and censorship so far in Afghanistan, the battle for freedom of speech still continues on in this country.

For the Italian Version of this article PLEASE CLICK HERE

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Enchaining the artworks in Kabul is related to the return of the Taliban

Mohammad Amin Wahidi

Yet it is 2012 and more than a year and half is left for the pull-out of the foreign troops from Afghanistan but the fear of return of the Taliban is already overcasting everywhere in the country while the people speculate the aftermaths of 2014 differently.

In addition to military aspect of day by day increasing of guerrilla attacks of the Taliban to the major cities, their cultural influences on the governmental offices are as dangerous as their military attacks.

One of the most recent cases is the misbehavior of the Afghan government officials with the artists from ethnic Hazara in Kabul.

In midday June 21st 2012 before the opening of the exhibition Documenta in Kabul, the Minister of Information and Culture and some of his men rushed to the exhibition venue where they used violence against the artists and applied restrictions against works of three artists, all from the minor ethnic Hazara; Mohsen Taasha, Amin Taasha and Azizullah Hazara. The Minister and his men banned four artworks in total and confiscated them all.

They took three artists away and kept them in custody for an hour and then, an order was released by the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan that prohibits the participation of these artists and their works in any other exhibitions in Afghanistan.

Mohsen Taasha is a young artist from Afghanistan. He is the winner of Afghanistan Contemporary Art Prize 2010 and a participant of DOCUMENTA 13 this year in Kassel Germany. This year at the Documenta, he was considered the youngest artist ever participated at the Documenta Contemporary Art Exhibition. 
Before Documenta, Mohsen Taasha’s paintings and installations were being exhibited in Paris and Prague as well.
The painting brought him misfortune is called “A Man Reading Quran, Without Knowing the Meaning.”

"A Man Reading Quran, Without Knowing the Meaning" by Mohsen Taasha is being considered non-Islamic in Kabul and was banned and confiscated by the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan!
The confiscated painting was done after Mohsen Taasha participated in a workshop called “Seeing Studies”, supported by Documenta in Kabul. The aim of the workshop was to extend the ways of how artists view things around him and how interpret things including existed artworks by other artists.
“A Man Reading Quran, Without Knowing the Meaning” is not an original work, but is Mohsen Taasha’s interpretation from another painting exposed in the National Gallery of Afghanistan that is called “A Man Reading Holy Quran”.
As explained by Mohsen Wahidi, “When you read Quran, without knowing the meaning, it is like thousands of words dance in your head.” That is why it caused the anger of Minister of Information and Culture of Afghanistan.  
Mohsen Taasha in his statement to the Hazara People website said that he has never intended to harm anyone’s feelings, it is just his artistic expression of the fact, that even to be a good Muslim and a good follower of Islam religion, literacy and knowing the meaning of Quran is a must.
With all these difficulties and restrictions, as long as the ministry does not close his workplace, he still continues his works for art and freedom of expression in his underground art factory in Kabul that is called Taasha Underground Art Factory and Gallery. 
It was not only him being insulted for his opinion as an artist, but the work of another fellow artist was also insulted, banned and confiscated by the ministry.     
“Dancing Letters and Words” is another banned and confiscated work that belongs to the artist, Azizullah Hazara. The officials of the Ministry have left a nonsense statement regarding this work; “Playing and joking with Arabic words and letters is considered against holy religion of Islam.”
This work of course, is based on a historical fact about the Hazaras and had a political message that is why it was very sensible for the Minister and his men.
The painting “Dancing Letters and Words” highlights the mass-massacre of the Hazaras by tyrant Afghan King Amir Abdurrahman Khan in late 19th century, who massacred the Hazaras and put their heads to sign the road ways for the return of his soldiers to Kabul. This painting wanted to sign the roads by Alphabetic letters to raise the question of; “which one is more sacred, human’s head and blood or letters of a language like Arabic?” 
The order of the Minister of Information and Culture of Afghanistan says that Mohsen Taasha and his two fellow artists Azizullah Hazara and Amin Taasha are not allowed to participate in any exhibitions thereafter in Afghanistan.

After the incident, many artists in Kabul objected on Minister’s censorship and discrimination. The website of Hazara People International Network wrote an objection letter condemning censorship and ethnic discrimination applied against Hazara artists. 

Based on the historical evidences, the Hazaras, who have always been the main victims of ethnic cleansing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were prosecuted by the Taliban very fiercely during their rule on Afghanistan. They still have in mind how the Taliban mass-massacred them in Bamyan, Mazar e Sharif and Yakawlang.

With the new era after the fall of Taliban’s Emirate in Kabul, a new horizon begin to appear for the vulnerable groups such as the women, ethnic and religious minorities and the cultural activists such as the artists, writers, filmmakers and enlightening intellectuals in Afghanistan who were all previously tortured by the Taliban.  

Among all, the Hazaras, with all challenges and discriminations against them, taking advantage of the relative freedom in the new era, began to move towards democracy and development. They have been very active in women education, mass literacy program among the people, sport, art and different cultural activities in the passed decade for which they gained honors and credits for Afghanistan.
After these years of democracy experiences, now the fear of return of the Taliban can easily destroy their imaginary castle of prosperity they had built for them in these ten years.
And now, the lately efforts made in rush to bring back the Taliban on power, makes thing nonsense for the groups who have suffered during the Taliban. They believe if the Taliban are to come back on power, this time by the direct support of the west, then there were no need for this long-ten-years of blind war against them.   

Seeing the clearance of path by the government officials for the Talibanism ideology already, a grand majority of the urban population, could have the most fearful nightmare that is the return of the Taliban on power again after these years of relatively open period for the mass-media and artistic expressions.

The lately unpleasant signs of neo-extremism in Afghanistan reveal the tendency of the government towards fundamentalism could it be for the purpose of contenting the terrorist group of Taliban for joining the government or it is the action of the pro-Taliban elements who are already placed in the government body. Whatsoever it is, these suspicious signs are not considered as good signs for a peaceful 2014.

As a matter of fact, so far the most important achievements during these ten years of post-Taliban era (2002-2012) for which the government officials always boast, are the relatively freedom to the women as the most vulnerable population of the society, the relatively openness of ground for the media and press, openness for artistic and cultural activities and the return of the artists in the art galleries, otherwise the long-going costly war would seem to be aimless without guaranteeing a real democracy for the majority of people of Afghanistan.  

The illegal procedure on going by the Afghan Government, through which the terrorist Taliban are not only being forgiven but also being rewarded and compensated with money, is a kind of encouragement for the terrorism, illegality and organized criminality in the country.

While on the other hand, applying restrictions on artists, writers and journalists by the name of religion is a deadly and very dangerous way of quieting the real voices of the society.      

Facebook Page: Mohsen (Wahidi) Taasha


For more information read the link below:

Censorship and Racial Discrimination Continues in Afghansitan