Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Save Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh
See full account of this affair at this site.
I am e-mailing this letter to Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Canada, Omar Said, as well as to the Prime Minister of Canada. If you feel the same way I do, I urge you to act quickly and express your views.
This is the address of the Afghanistan Embassy:
Embassy of Afghanistan
240 Argyle Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1B9
This is the e-mail address:
As a Canadian citizen, taxpayer and voter, I wish to advise you that I have concerns about Canada’s continuing military commitment to Afghanistan.
We went into Afghanistan primarily to support our traditional American allies and chase Osama bin Laden and his associates out of your country. That has been accomplished.
Canada is not, and never has been, an imperial power that sends its army into countries for extended military engagements (U.N. sanctioned peacekeeping excepted). We customarily lend a hand and then we leave. We are behaving differently in Afghanistan and we need to understand why we should do so.
When I was told that the Taliban, aside from sheltering bin Laden, was a terrible and cruel government, administering the strictest form of Sharia law, and that Afghanistan had an opportunity to shed this blood-soaked past and become a modern nation, embracing liberal-democratic values, I held my piece about our army being there.
However, it has come to my attention that Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalism student at Balkh University and reporter for the local daily Jahan-e-Naw (The New World), has been sentenced to death for insulting Islam.
Mr. Kambakhsh was arrested on October 27, 2007, in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province, for allegedly downloading and distributing material from a Farsi website which suggested that the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad legitimize the oppression of women.
On January 22, 2008, Kambakhsh was brought before an Islamic court, without a lawyer or public oversight. Accused of un-Islamic speech and activity, socialism, rebelliousness, and improper instigation of religious debate, he was convicted of blasphemy by the court and sentenced to death.
You know very well, from your long experience in the west, Mr. Ambassador, that Mr. Kambakhsh would have experienced zero consequences had he performed exactly the same act in Canada or the United States, or any other western liberal-democracy.
Why should I want to put our young people in harm’s way to protect the Afghani government if the result is that, like the government of the Taliban, the Sharia prevails over liberal-democratic human rights to which Afghanistan claims to subscribe? In what respect are the due process of law and the ultimate fate of Mr. Kambakhsh different in the new Afghanistan than they would have been in the old?
And most importantly, why should Canada's soldiers be put in harm’s way and die to preserve this?
I would normally not presume to tell the representative of sovereign nation how his country should be conducting itself. But, equally, if I don't approve of the way it is operating, as I do not in this instance, I don't see why you should expect me to support Canadian politicians who want to keep our military engaged in such a country. You can defend yourselves, without shedding our blood.
I understand the religious authorities are counseling a swift execution of the sentence before the matter becomes political. Too late for that. I urge you, Mr. Ambassador, to press your government to step in and offer Mr. Kambakhsh clemency.