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 The Pretender, By: Bruce G. Richardson

Bruce G. Richardson 5/23/09


Journalist, Writer Beaten by armed gunmen of the intelligence agency During his recent visit to Washington, President Hamid Karzai extolled the virtues of a democratic society. But before we get all giddy over participatory democracy in Afghanistan, consider the recent, savage and brutal attack on noted disabled Afghan journalist, Abdul Ahmad Mohammad Yar.  This gratuitous, overt act of violence in order to silence political opposition would indicate therefore that in Afghanistan democracy is illusory, selective and for the elite few. 

Mohammad Yar was one among a number of poets that had gathered for a reading, during an intermission, he busied himself among the attendees distributing brochures relating to the candidacy of Dr. Ashraf Ghani.

In Karzai’s pretend democracy, and without warning, a number of plain-clothed intelligence agents seized Mohammad Yar and began to beat, kick, and verbally abuse him. During the altercation his crutches were taken and used to bludgeon him to the ground.

Eyewitnesses to the incident have named Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president’s brother, as an accomplice, assisting the other government assailants.

What precipitated the incident? What was the crime for which Mohammad Yar was so savagely beaten by government agents?

His crime was the exercising of his democratic rights:  the right to support, and the right to campaign for a candidate of his choice. But in Karzai’s world, a world in which election results are assured prior to election-day, a world in which election results/votes are based on bribes, beatings, threats and intimidation. Mohammad Yar had therefore to be silenced.

During the melee, uniformed national police were in attendance but took no action to stop the beating.

Government interference in the workings of a free-press is commonplace in Karzai’s (pretend to be democratic) Afghanistan. And the case of Mohammad Yar is but one such example. In 2005, there were 40 attacks on journalists including 2 murders, several cases of abduction, assault and imprisonment. Those whom with courage and dedication to ethics in journalism, reveal and expose the crimes of Afghanistan’s elite do so at great peril.

A free and independent media is the only window into the activities of government…those who often in secret and in the name of democracy commit crimes and visit horror upon their constituents in their quest of power and riches. 

Bruce G. Richardson 5/23/09