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Afghanistan's New Taliban

BBC: Afghan senate backs death penalty. Afghanistan’s upper house of parliament has issued a statement backing a death sentence for a journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan. Pervez Kambakhsh, 23, was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. He has denied the charge. The UN has criticised the sentence and said the journalist did not have legal representation during the case.

This case shocks the conscience. Journalists — all of us — should be trying hard to stop this outrage.

If Afghanistan kills this man it will lose support from people who care about liberty, and at a time when it most needs that support. Surely Americans will ask themselves why our soldiers are dying to preserve such a loathsome regime. I know I will.

1 Comment on “Afghanistan's New Taliban”

  1. #1 Hans Suter
    on Feb 2nd, 2008 at 4:15 am

    I’ve sent the following letter to the Italian minister of defense:

    Gentile Signor Ministro della Difesa,

    Leggo la seguente grave notizia su:

    BBC NEWS
    Afghan senate backs death penalty
    Afghanistan’s upper house of parliament has issued a statement backing a death sentence for a journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan.

    Pervez Kambakhsh, 23, was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. He has denied the charge.

    The UN has criticised the sentence and said the journalist did not have legal representation during the case.

    The Afghan government has said that the sentence was not final.

    A government spokesman said recently that the case would be handled “very carefully”.

    Now the Afghan Senate has issued a statement on the case – it was not voted on but was signed by its leader, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, an ally of President Hamid Karzai.

    It said the upper house approved the death sentence conferred on Mr Kambaksh by a city court in Mazar-e-Sharif.

    Concerns

    It also strongly criticised what it called those institutions and foreign sources which, it said, had tried to pressurise the country’s government and judiciary as they pursued people like Mr Kambakhsh.

    Some governments and international organisations have called for the sentence to be overturned.

    A legal expert, Wadir Safi, told the BBC that parliament was not constitutionally allowed to intervene in a case in the way the Senate had done, and he was concerned the new statement might prejudice the independence of the judges.

    Mr Kambakhsh’s brother, Yacoub Kambakhsh, told the BBC that the journalist was very concerned about his future and said he had not had a fair trial or any lawyer to defend him.

    But the provincial governor in Mazar has said the case is being handled with due process.

    Mr Kambakhsh has at least two more courts in which to appeal and the sentence would have to be approved by President Karzai to be carried out.

    He is a student at Balkh University and a journalist for Jahan-e Naw (New World).

    He was arrested in 2007 after downloading material relating to the role of women in Islamic societies.

    Story from BBC NEWS:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/7216976.stm

    Published: 2008/01/30 09:03:47 GMT

    © BBC MMVIII

    Spero che lei voglia fare presente ai suoi interlocutori afgani che per l’Italia √® impossibile sostenere con soldati e quattrini dei propri cittadini uno stato che ha intenzione di commettere una simile atrocit√†.

    Cordiali saluti

    Hans Suter