Home News Afghanistan Afghans Too Busy ‘Drowning in Their Own Sweat’ to Take Part in Activism

Afghans Too Busy ‘Drowning in Their Own Sweat’ to Take Part in Activism

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Download After 18-day without eating or drinking, former Afghan parliamentarian Simin Barakzai stops her hunger strike.

Barakzai was protesting against political corruption.

As Zubair Babakarkhail in Kabul reports it was an unusual form of activism in Afghanistan.


On the 13th day of Simin Barakzai’s hunger strike, police came and dismantled her tents.

She was taken to the hospital in a very weak condition.

Her family said she was on the verge of death.

She is the first women in Afghanistan to go on hunger strike but she failed to gain widespread support.

Muhammad is her husband.

"Just the people who voted her in Herat province held a demonstration there to support her hunger strike. But you see, in other countries people and government really knows and respect democracies. Unfortunately it is not like that in Afghanistan. Democracy is a new thing here and people do not know a lot about it.”

Barakzai was one of nine members of parliament who were disqualified on the recommendations of a special tribunal set up by President Hamid Karzai.

Critics say he was trying to scare new legislators into obeying him.

Ajmal Sohail joined the strike on day 10.

He says this is the right time for Afghan people to fight for their rights.

"We do not expect from the corrupt government. This government is all the time making decisions behind the closed doors. We should not expect from such a corrupt government to take a positive action. Actually our idea is that international community should take part in it because this is the right time otherwise democracy, human rights and human dignity in Afghanistan is going to be destroyed. So in that case we ask international community and also the Afghan people to join us."

According to Transparency International annual report last year, Afghanistan is the second most corrupt country in the world.

Sohail believes political activism is badly needed.

"I can say that the political earthquake which happened in the Middle East, that nobody trusts it, but finally everybody saw that the corrupt regimes and the absolute regimes moved away and replaced by the democratic governments. So we look forward that the Afghan people should understand that this is the right time and right movement to take action and make the case same as the Middle East."

In 2005, Ghazi Anwar set himself on fire in front of the United Nation’s office in Kabul.

He was fighting for refugee status.

He died from his injures.

Political analyst Farooq Meranai says individual protests like this fail to create widespread movements.

He believes because there is no strong opposition parties or civil society groups.

There are about 100 political parties in Afghanistan, each claiming to have hundreds of thousands of members.

But none act as a clear opposition party to the government.

Hezb-e-Eqtidare Millie is one of the biggest parties.

They carried out protests against Iran over water rights and intervention in Afghan’s internal affairs.

But the rallies did not attract common people like 35-year old Satar Khan who works in a money changer.

"Everyone is drowned in their own sweat here. The last 30 years of war has made people poor. People are just busy with their life, earning a piece of bread and do not have time for useless demonstrations and political gatherings. Also all officials and politicians are involved in corruption, how can you trust a thief?"

But political expert Farooq Meranai says Afghans must unite to demand better governance.

"This is the time that people must take risk, get ready for scarifies, get hand-in-hand and unite. Until when should people wait for the given peace and democracy? If a democracy comes with the efforts and power of Afghans, that will be the real democracy. But the democracy given by others 10 years a go was not a democracy because people did not know anything about the meaning of democracy.”

Simin Barakzai has stopped fasting after a senate commission was set up to investigate her case.

Last Updated ( Monday, 24 October 2011 11:19 )  

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