Both the Vancouver Olympics and NATO's offensive in Afghanistan's Helmand Province are now a week old. Sadly, very few media outlets have picked up on the story of the blatant hypocrisy of launching this offensive during the so-called "Olympic Truce". Nor have many in Canada given space to critical perspectives on 'Operation Moshtarak'.
Thankfully, we do have some other sources to draw on. The indispensable Democracy Now! reported Wednesday that "at least 19 civilians have been killed so far, including six children who died when a missile struck their house on the outskirts of the city." Amy Goodman's interview with Anand Gopal, a Wall Street Journal correspondent based in Afghanistan, is well worth listening to in full. Gopal raises an important point about the paucity of solid information from the town under attack, Marjah, and the surrounding region. Referring to one missile strike which NATO quickly apologized for:
"...the difficult thing in understanding what’s happening there is that we know at least 12 people were killed, but it’s very difficult for reporters to get to Marjah. Almost all the reporters who are there are the embedded reporters, so they’re only seeing one side of the story. And we won’t know for some time yet if these are the only cases or if there are many more."
Afghans are also raising concerns about NATO's actions in Helmand. Malalai Joya, interviewed by British journalist Glyn Strong for the Independent, points to what she perceives as another hypocrisy on the part of the occupiers: "On the one hand they call on Mullah Omar to join the puppet regime. On another hand they launch this attack in which defenceless and poor people will be the prime victims."
Joya also makes some important points about the Afghan police, partners in NATO's occupation:
"The Afghan police force is the most corrupt institution in Afghanistan. Bribery is common and if you have money, by bribing police from top to bottom you can do almost anything. In many parts of Afghanistan, people hate the police more than the Taliban. In Helmand, for instance, people are afraid of police who commit violence against people and make trouble."
There are 10 left days for the Vancouver Games. If only the Afghan people could be so lucky.
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