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Afghan youth in U.S. protest war

Published Apr 7, 2012 10:21 AM

Some 150 people from Fremont and Occupy Oakland demonstrated outside a U.S. military recruiting center in Fremont on March 30 at a protest organized by Afghan youth. They were also joined by a number of San Francisco Bay Area Iraq Veterans Against the War activists. Fremont has the highest concentration of Afghans in the U.S.

The march organizers raised three main issues: Protest the U.S. massacre of Afghans in Panjwai, Kandahar, as well as all other atrocities related to this war; protest U.S. military recruitment of poor people in this country; and raise awareness about and rally support against the “U.S./Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement.” If enacted, this agreement would extend the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2024.

Michael Thurman, one of the veterans, spoke in front of the recruiting center about how he had been lied to when he was recruited right out of high school. Thurman talked about how the killing of civilians happens all the time.

Dottie Guy said she had enrolled in the National Guard, never imagining that she would wind up being sent to fight overseas.

The San Francisco vets Web page for this action stated in part, “We’re outraged not only about this latest atrocity, but by the drone attacks, the night raids, the ‘kill teams’ murdering for sport and collecting body parts as trophies, the urinating on dead Afghan bodies while filming it, and the burning of Qurans.”

Abbas Darab, from Afghans for Peace, talked about the comparisons to Trayvon Martin, and “our brothers in downtown Oakland. They’re doing the exact same thing to them.”

Treal Mustafan, an Afghan youth born in Oakland, said he was “upset with what the U.S. has done in Afghanistan, historically and currently.” He asked people to not enlist, but rather to pay attention to history, instead of treating history as irrelevant. Mustafan said it was “a shame a lot of U.S. Afghans were conducive to war, but were starting to learn.”

Following the rally, the crowd marched through the shopping center and down a divided eight-lane road in central Fremont. The marchers held the entire width, from the curb to the central divider, unprecedented for an unpermitted march in Fremont.

Although Fremont motorcycle cops tried to push the militant youth to the curb, everyone held their ground and marched several blocks. They tied up traffic but got honks of support from passersby.

As the cops brought out squad cars to support their motorcycle division, the marchers surprised them by doing a u-turn, marching back on the other side of the road, holding the entire width once more. The march ended near the military recruiting office without incident.