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Afghan civilians massacred by occupation

March 16, 2012

People around the world reacted in horror and anger at the news that a US soldier massacred 16 civilians in Afghanistan—including nine children, three women and four men. This is an inevitable consequence of the occupation, which must end.

The killing spree in the Zangabad village in Kandahar province happened in the middle of the night while the families were sleeping. It’s unclear whether there was more than one shooter but what is clear is that this cannot be dismissed as a “lone gunman” or “isolated incident.”

This is the inevitable result of the occupation of Afghanistan, which has continued for more than a decade against the will of the people. It is sustained by continual dehumanizing from the top of the chain of command, including Canadian General Hillier claiming in 2005 that the occupation is based on killing “murderers and scumbags.”

Like in Vietnam, soldiers are caught between growing local resistance and imperial overstretch that sends them back for tour after tour in a futile quest for “security.” The soldier identified in the massacre is a 38-year old army sergeant who served three tours of duty in Iraq, where he was injured. He was told he would not be redeployed but then was sent to Afghanistan, where the day before the massacre he witnessed a fellow soldier have his leg blown off. During the massacre he relied on his high-degree of military training, killing five of the children with a single shot each to the head.

War crimes are increasingly common in Afghanistan. Just last year photos of US “kill teams” appeared, and the first few months of 2012 have already produced photos of soldiers urinating on Afghan corpses, news of soldiers burning copies of the Qu’ran, and now the Kandahar massacre. Every year produces more Afghan casualties, as Western governments have repeatedly extended the occupation in the name of “security” and defeating the Taliban. But as a local woman said, “they killed a child who was two years old. Was this child Taliban? There are no Taliban here.”

In response to the massacre, 2,000 Afghan students in Jalalabad protested, and another 1,000 protested outside the military base in Zangabad. Vigils and protests also spread across the US, UK and Canada (including Calgary, Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa), organized by Afghans for Peace. The rally in Toronto included a US veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who said: “The escalation of war will continue until we all stand up against this nonsense international venture. The Afghans should have their right to determine their destiny.”

Afghans for Peace is organizing another protest this Sunday in Toronto. For more information, visit

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