February 16, 2011

War on Want calls for end to Afghan war

by Jan Harris

It is sixty years since War on Want was founded with calls for an end to the war in Korea, and now the charity is calling for Britain to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

The charity has launched a report revealing the terrible price the Afghan people are paying in what it says has become a ‘dirty war’.

A letter published by the Guardian on 11 February and signed by the charity’s executive director John Hilary, calls for the immediate withdrawal of troops and a negotiated settlement to protect the Afghan people and give them self-determination.

The letter was also signed by trade union leaders, politicians from the UK and Afghanistan, peace campaigners and representatives from the arts.

War on Want has published a report – The Great Game: The reality of Britain’s war in Afghanistan – which accuses Britain of being implicated in the US army’s torture of prisoners and of using aerial bombing and drone attacks which are causing unnecessary civilian deaths.

The charity want aerial bombing and drone attacks to stop, and for Britain to stop its involvement with the US detention and torture programme.

The US is believed to have established a network of secret prisons in Afghanistan which it uses to ‘render’ prisoners from a number of countries.

The best known is located at the Bagram airbase, which is said to be worse than Guantanamo, with reports of sleep deprivation, beatings and rape.

In February 2009 ministers admitted that suspected terrorists, detained by British soldiers in Iraq were secretly flown by the US to Afghanistan and there have since been reports that British forces ‘routinely’ hand over prisoners to the US, knowing that they will be tortured.

War on Want’s report also claims that development aid is being misused for military purposes, when it is desperately needed by Afghans, who live in the world’s poorest country.

According to War on Want, the welfare of the Afghan people is also being eroded by a policy of privatisation introduced in 2005, under which 50 state-owned enterprises have been earmarked for privatisation or liquidation.

The policy, which is led by USAID, promotes export-oriented business development and puts the interest of foreign investors above those of the Afghan people.

War on Want says that privatisation must stop and must be replaced with an economic policy that meets the needs of Afghans.

Finally War on Want is calling for a ban on the use of private military and security companies in combat situations.

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