Thursday, January 31, 2008

‘Young democracy’ in action

Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh

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.

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."
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.
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:

Presidential Office:
president@afghanistangov.org

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
spokesman-unama@un.org

The Supreme Court of Afghanistan
aquddus@supremecourt.gov.af

And by contacting the The Embassy of Afghanistan at:

Main Telphone: 202.483.6410
Main Fax: 202.483.6488
E-Mail: info@embassyofafghanistan.org

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.
Please take a minute and make your voice heard.

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