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As prelude to Afghan invasion

U.S. war agitation targeted LGBT movements

Published Dec 16, 2007 9:50 PM

U.S. and British military public relations, and their embedded media, focused on Taliban laws and attitudes about same-sex love to agitate for the October 2001 invasion and justify occupation.

The monopoly corporate media broadcast this newfound concern for the rights of oppressed sexualities—like its crocodile tears for Afghan women—after 9/11, as U.S. imperialism readied the Pentagon to plant its corporate flag in this geo-strategic Central Asian country. Transnational energy behemoths like Unocal and Enron were hellbent on siphoning the vast fossil fuel wealth of the Caspian Sea region from the former Soviet Union through Afghanistan.

More than a year before 9/11, the U.S. Department of State’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2000” had stated that during the Taliban rule, “The punishment for those found guilty of homosexual acts is to have walls toppled over them. Although there were no known instances of such punishment during the year, this punishment was carried out on at least one occasion in 1999, and seven times in 1998 (resulting in five deaths).”

Whether those facts are accurate or distorted, the Department of State wasn’t ready to make war against Afghanistan in 2000, using same-sex rights as a shield. And of course, the U.S. did not declare war on any of its client states in the region that punish homosexuality by prison terms or execution.

In the weeks between the Sept. 11 attacks and the first blast of the imperialist blitzkrieg on Oct. 7, articles in the imperialist corporate media amplified accounts of the 1998 and 1999 executions. These reports also got picked up by media aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities.

But months later, after the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan was already in place, more reports about the period in which the executions took place revealed a more complex reality.

Struggle against rape

Tim Reid reported in “Kandahar Comes Out of the Closet,” in the Jan. 12, 2002, issue of The Times of London that stopping the abduction and rape of male youths by landlord militia commanders “was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilizing the Taliban.” Mohammed Omar is the leader of the Taliban

Reid reported that two non-Taliban militia commanders fought over a male youth in the summer of 1994, just a few months before the Taliban took control of Kandahar. Civilians were killed in the artillery shelling. “Omar’s group freed the boy and appeals began flooding in for Omar to help in other disputes. By November, Omar and his Taliban were Kandahar’s new rulers.”

Reid quotes Torjan, a soldier loyal to the post-Taliban governor appointed under imperialist occupation. Torjan, 38 years old, recalled, “In the days of the Mujahidin, there were men with their ‘ashna’ [beloved young man] everywhere, at every corner, in shops, on the streets, in hotels: it was completely open, a part of life. But in the later Mujahidin years, more and more soldiers would take boys by force, and keep them for as long as they wished. But when the Taliban came, they were very strict about the ban.”

Other media presented similar accounts. The New York Times wrote on Feb. 21, 2002: “In 1994, the Taliban, then a small army of idealistic students of the Koran, were called to rescue a boy over whom two commanders had fought. They freed the boy and the people responded with gratitude and support.”

The Times article quoted Amin Ullah, a money changer, gesturing to his two teenage sons hunched over wads of Afghani bank notes at Kandahar’s currency bazaar. “At that time boys couldn’t come to the market because the commanders would come and take away any that they liked,” Ullah said.

One of the Afghan men that the U.S. Department of state claimed was sentenced to death in 1998 for being “found guilty of homosexual acts” survived. By law, he was later set free. The Feb. 21, 2002, New York Times admitted that the man—Mullah Peer Muhammad—was a former Taliban fighter arrested for sexual abuse of young male prisoners while he was in charge of the central prison in Kandahar. The Times stated, “The man had been convicted of raping and killing a boy.”

Clearly a more complex reality existed than the one the New York Post used to press for war: “Men accused of being gay were executed by having a wall toppled on them.”

These accounts aim to divert attention from the real issue: The Pentagon—that armed institution of gay-bashing violence—had no right to invade and occupy Afghanistan.

Next: Embedded anthropology

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