‘Young democracy’ in action
Here’s a story out of Afghanistan, which is one of the make-believe successes George Bush mentioned in that dog-and-pony show called the State of the Union address. This happened exactly one week before the SOTU but, somehow, didn’t make it into the speech.
A journalist in northern Afghanistan, Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy in a summary trial in which he had no legal representation and no opportunity to defend himself.For more, check out Crooks and Liars here. That site asks everyone to join an e-mail campaign in support of Parwez and in support of justice. I may not be amplifying that request by repeating it here, but if it reaches one more person, it’s worth doing.
Sentencing took place in a closed session of the lower court of Balkh region on January 22.
“It was about four pm when guards brought me into a room where there were three judges and an attorney sitting behind their desks. There was no one else,” Kambakhsh told IWPR.
“The death sentence had already been written. I wanted to say something, but they would not let me speak.
“They too said nothing. They just handed me a piece of paper on which it was written that I had been sentenced to death. Then armed guards came and took me out of the room, and brought me back to the prison."
You can join in an e-mail campaign to plead for Perwiz’ life and freedom with e-mails to the following. Since any appeal he files will be heard in the same “court” as his sentencing, human rights groups are asking people to include a request that his case be moved to the courts in Kabul:Please take a minute and make your voice heard.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
The Supreme Court of Afghanistan
And by contacting the The Embassy of Afghanistan at:
Main Telphone: 202.483.6410
Main Fax: 202.483.6488
So far, President Karzai has been silent about the Perwiz case but hopefully international pressure can encourage him to speak up for freedom of the press and a fair judiciary.