Residents of Kabul Protest Government’s Inaction on Behsud – UPDATES

Some updates about yesterday’s demonstrations here against government’s inaction on the Behsud conflict -now that the dust (of the demonstrations, not yet of the conflict itself) has somewhat settled:

Pictures of demonstration via BBC

Kot-i Sangi to Deh-Mazang

According to reports and eyewitness accounts, the demonstrations started in Dasht-e-Barchi area but it was only in Kot-i Sangi that the numbers really began to swell. People in a giant human wave in thousands joined the rally that stretched unbroken between Kot-i Sangi and Deh-Mazang, with the entire avenue clogged (one source put it at 300,000 strong.) In what is surely an unprecedented practice in Afghan public and political culture, the thousands-strong rally proceeded and concluded without incidents. One of the organizers told me that there were around 5,000 women in attendance in yesterday’s rally. An eyewitness recounted that women were leading the demonstrations. Besides the IDPs and former residents of Behsud/Behsood -who were present in the largest numbers- people originating from several other provinces also joined the rally. The constituency, however, is reported to have been primarily Hazara.

Halt at Deh-Mazang

By mid-morning the rally had arrived in Deh-Mazang on its way towards the center of the city and offices of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan -UNAMA. And then it stopped.
There are varying and conflict accounts of why the rally stopped. I will list all of the accounts that I have heard- many of which cannot be substantiated:

1. The president personally ordered the rally to be stopped, calling on all of the government’s security forces (including the ANA) to halt the progress of the march in Deh-Mazang. Based on yesterday’s presidential order calling on the Kochis to temporarily evacuate Behsud, and indications of compliance from the Kochis, the government had earlier asked for the rally to be cancelled, and when this was not done, it took measures to stop it before it reached the city center. Security and peace in the city was cited as one of the reasons for the rally to stop.

2. The leaders of the demonstrated struck a deal with the government and called off the demonstrations. Again unconfirmed, this is a variant on version # 1 above, albeit this one implies that the government offered some sort of deal or was able to persuasively sell its solution of temporary evacuation of Kuchis out of Behsud to the leaders of the rally. Other variations of this account go further and blame the demonstrations organizers and leaders as having been “bought off” and co-opted and thereafter calling upon the people to go home. The leaders spoke to the rally and invited them to stop the march, stating that should the government not keep its promises or continue its policy of inaction in Behsud, a bigger rally will be organized in the future and that will go onwards towards the city center to make its demands heard.

3. According to an unconfirmed report by ANSO (Afghan NGOs Security Office), when the demonstrators arrived at Deh-Mazang area and close to the Kabul Zoo, ‘violence’ and ‘armed demonstrators’ were reported. ANSO: “There are various unconfirmed incidents of violence being reported, including a report of armed demonstrators in the area of the Kabul Zoo. NGO should suspend all movement in the city.” I have not been able to corroborate reports of violence or armed demonstrators through any other sources and all of the media (TV, radio, print -including even the BBC Persian Webpage which has finally decided to break its implicit gag-rule over the matter) are unanimous on the non-occurence of any incidents in yesterday’s rally.

Besides the 3rd account which is unlikely in view of the media reporting of the event, it is likely that a combination of 1 and 2 was at play in halting the rally at Deh-Mazang -a carrot and stick approach, if you may.

(More to come on yesterday’s demonstrations.)

For now, here are links to pictures of the event and some reporting:

1. Exclusive pictures from the demonstrations

2. After Progress in Talks, Mohaqiq Ends Hunger Strike, Calls Protesters Back Amid Emotional Scenes

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5 Responses to Residents of Kabul Protest Government’s Inaction on Behsud – UPDATES

  1. jawed nader says:

    One can rarely see such civic and peaceful protests in Afghanistan.

    It was sad that the government intimidated and stopped them.

  2. Ataullah Naseri says:

    I pay my condolences to the family of Behsud who lost their loves one by the cruel Kuchi invaders.
    I believe they are not only the Kuchis, there are the Taliban’s power behind the Kuchis who supply weapons and encourage them to mistreat and persecute the Hazara. With empty hand Hazaras can not do anything to defend themselves, the only way to escape and refuge to be survived.
    I strongly believe if Hazara people of Behsud had the weapon the Kuchis would not be in Behsud right now to burn down the villages and displace thousand of Hazara people. Our leaders have not done enough to help the situation. When ever the new powers come to power in Afghanistan Hazara people are the very first Nation to put their guns down and get on with it. We trusted other Tribes of Afghanistan and the pointed government of Afghanistan so quickly and we never learnt the lesson for decades to forecast the consequences. That is the tragedy we faced and they are many on the way to come and hit us again and again. In Afghanistan the conflicts between the Tribes are beyond trust, we have trusted them so many times and what we got big atrocities and massacres our innocent people.
    As we have our Hazaragi proverbs:
    ka bedana ra bad mobra
    I don’t know as Hazara man what would be our future like in Afghanistan?
    LONG LIVE HAZARA

  3. ali says:

    I agree it would’t happened if our leader haz not surrended the weapons and leant from the past.

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    http://www.365travelvietnam.com/vietnam-tours.html

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