The existence of a secret report on mass killings in Afghanistan during the 1990s was revealed in a front-page New York Times article on July 23.
The unpublished 800-page report, prepared by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, was repressed because it names those who today make up a “who’s who of power players in Afghanistan: former and current warlords or officials, some now in very prominent positions in the national government, as well as in insurgent factions fighting it.”
The report relates the commission’s discovery of mass graves throughout the country dating back to that period. It tells of places where bulldozers in recent years unearthed corpses in order to burn them and destroy the evidence.
Many prominent figures are named in the report as having ordered the massacres and coverup that followed, including three now high in the Afghan government: Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, Vice President Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim and Second Vice President Karim Khalili.
What the Times article barely mentions, however, is the role of U.S. imperialism in using these men to destroy what had been a progressive government in Afghanistan.
In 1978, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan came to power in a popular revolution. It was quickly undermined by a CIA-organized and – financed dirty war that eventually drew in the Soviet Union on the side of the revolutionary government.
The U.S. created an army based in the class of landlords who had oppressed the peasants of Afghanistan. The “warlords” mentioned from time to time as having such power in the country are those who enforced the rule of the landlord class. They opposed the democratic and progressive reforms of the PDPA government.
This revolutionary government earned the hatred of the landlords when it canceled the “debts” that peasants owed to them, eliminated the bride price so women could no longer be sold in marriage by their fathers, and built schools in the countryside for both girls and boys.
Did Washington ever admit that it was turning back the clock in Afghanistan? Of course not. It framed the struggle as one of helping freedom-loving Afghans fight a Soviet “invasion,” even though Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, later boasted that the CIA war in Afghanistan started six months before the USSR sent troops to defend the PDPA government.
Once that government was defeated, the forces the U.S. had armed began a bloody struggle among themselves.
The only glimpse the Times article gives of the U.S. role in the civil war comes in a quote from a former “mujahadeen commander,” who didn’t deny the killings in the 1990s but said, to justify himself: “If this war and all these killings were so bad, then why aren’t we putting their international backers on trial? If we talk about violation of human rights, we should accuse the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, who supported the mujahedeen at the time and now calls them warlords. Or President Ronald Reagan, who provided these warlords and human rights violators with Stinger missiles.”
The blood of millions of Afghans killed in the counterrevolution, the civil war that followed, and the war of occupation since 2001 is all on Washington’s hands. n