Friday, August 03, 2007

These Bones Are Not My Son.


Or perhaps they are. If not mine, they maybe these bones are someone’s daughter, father, mother...or any that make up the fabric of our lives.

I hesitated to write about this. The layers of Afghanistan’s wars and violence are so intermingled, so complicated and yes, so painful, that it is hard to pick one scab without ripping off all of the flesh completely.

I grew up on these stories. I met them again when I went back to Afghanistan. I hear them all the time.

His father was taken in the middle of the night, on his way home, at school, at work.

I remember waiting for my father, as I always did, by the front door. One day, I waited until the night came. He never came.

They won’t hold a funeral for him. They think he may be alive in Russia.

I waited by those prison doors until the last person walked out. He never came out. I went home. My young cousin, who had put on his blue suit and slicked his hair down in a wet part, didn’t wait for me to speak. He just started to cry.
15 rooms of dead bodies. Bound and gagged. Shot to death.

Each dead body holds years of quiet desperation. Of not knowing where he is, of not having a grave to weep over.

This is where justice comes in. The 15 rooms of dead bodies tell me that we need a functioning justice system. If punishment is necessary, let it be out in the open.

Maybe redressing old wrongs is too much to ask just now. Though I don’t know how to ask the families to forgive. Forgiveness will be the bravest act Afghans will ever attempt.

But stopping this from happening again, to stop secret killings, this is why the law exists. This is why we have a court system in the U.S., albeit imperfect.

This is why the Gitmo prison must be closed down and the prisoners transferred to the American justice system. I am not saying that the US has committed anything similar to the mass killings in Afghanistan. BUT, the level of secrecy around the ‘enemy’ prisoners is appalling.

If they committed a crime and must be punished – it should be out in the open. If the US has ‘security concerns,’ put reasonable safeguards in place.

The Gitmo situation frustrates me because the US is better than this. It may sound corny but I fervently believe in the US justice system. It’s hypocritical for the US to argue the ‘prisoner of war’ vs. ‘enemy combatant’ distinction. If the prisoners held at Gitmo are dangerous, let them go through a military tribunal (which has safeguards in place) but why create a separate system?

Every time I go back to Kabul, the need for justice is highlighted. We need more justice in this world, not less. This isn’t going to get anyone on our side.

*Picture taken from Yahoo! News Photo


choayang said...

Oi... heavy stuff to come back to. but still glad you're back.

not feeling so literary, just wanna say i feel yah. hope the message comes across.

Frida said...

Oh - hey - comment function working after all.

Thanks for this post, I've been too chicken to write about it. I'm emailing you instead.