Monday, August 13, 2007

On the ground in Afghanistan (Part 13)

Mike Skinner's account of his experiences in Afghanistan (intro here).

July 12 (excerpts):

...The Hazara, of any Afghan ethnic group, may have suffered the most under the Taliban ... If there is any group of people in Afghanistan who should be thankful for the defeat of the Taliban and appreciate the current occupation, it is the Hazara people. So we will be asking people in Bamiyan if this is the case.

... I hesitate to guess at the ratio of women to men, but we might see only one woman to every seventy-five or even a hundred men in the streets. The pale blue burka is still a common sight in the streets of liberated Kabul and I have never seen a woman without at least wearing a headscarf and this will often be pulled across her face, although this may be as much to filter dust as to protect a woman's modesty. As some of the female students we have talked to have stated; a foreign occupation will not change the way people think.

...Hamayon explains that the destruction of the Buddha statues [by the Taliban regime in early 2001] was the culmination of a cultural ethnic cleansing that has been occurring for centuries. The Pashtun rulers of Afghanistan have in the past frequently ordered destruction of the many art works of Bamiyan that feature the faces of people with Hazara features. The facial features and skin-colouring of Hazara people are similar to the people further east in China and other regions of East Asia, whereas the Pashtun people share the features and colouring of the peoples of the Indian sub-continent and many Tajiks have European features. The Mughal Aurangzeb destroyed the faces of the Buddha statues in the 17th century and the destruction of the frescoes adorning the hundreds of caves that honeycomb the cliffs has been an ongoing project that was only completed in recent years. (complete entry here)

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