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View Full Version : Price Of An Afghan Child

02-15-2006, 07:52 PM

Sawara and Mawes Khan had put their nine children to bed after evening
prayers in the family home they shared with Mawes brother Sardar, his wife
and their seven children . . . hours later their lives changed forever when
a laser-guided missile demolished the house. American Special Forces
operating in the Paktika district of southern Afghanistan were convinced
they had hit a Taliban stronghold.

The US soldiers were on the scene within minutes and beat back would be
Afghan rescuers saying there were Taliban inside. But by day break, as the
corpses of 11 children lay in a neat row in the demolished courtyard, the
Americans began to realise the full extent of their mistake. After removing
twisted chunks of metal from the missile, the soldiers apologised to the
villagers of Bermil and took away evidence of the bomb to their base three
miles away, near the Pakistan border at Shkin.

Sawara said: "Some say I am a lucky to be alive but I am not a survivor. I
can't count myself blessed. I am also a dead person now. "I am dead inside.
All my children have gone. My two-year-old boy Hazrat was crushed to death
as he lay in my arms. "It is like hell has visited our home. I heard a jet
flying low and thought there was too much noise, and then there was nothing.
"The next thing I knew I was buried in wood, soil and stone. My nephew was
shouting at me and digging around me. Then the Americans arrived. " They
pulled everyone away until sunrise then they removed what was left of their
missile, said sorry and left. On Tuesday I had a family and by Wednesday I
had nothing." Swara, a stunning-looking woman with high cheek bones and
emerald eyes, pulled her red cloak over her braided head to cover her face.
She said she hadn't cried yet, but it was obvious her pain and grief are
ready to erupt. Her anger at America forces is understandable. ''I heard
cries from my daughter Irana and if the rescuers had been let in may be she
could have been saved. I will never know. ''The pain I have will never go

Local Afghans in Bermil are outraged by the blunder and as news of it spread
through the Paktika region, a senior delegation from the Afghan Interim
Government arrived by helicopter with US military.

After landing at the US base in Shkin, a 15-vehicle convoy including 50
armed guards rolled up to Bermil with the delegation including the Governor
of Paktika Mohammed Ali Jalali and Shahzada Masoon, the personal adviser to
Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's interim leader. The officials asked to see the
Khan brothers who had lost 11 children between them. Mawes and Sardar Ali
were then given an apology and 500,000 Afghanis worth around 10,000 US
dollars. Four of the injured received the equivalent of 250 US dollars each
before the delegation departed with a promise to rebuild the Khan Brothers'

'The Americans said 'we did a wrong and we mis-targetted'. What good are
their words? I have lost everything. My nine children, my home and my
animals,'' said Mawes, aged 45. He added: "Nothing will ever be able to
compensate me for the loss of my family. How can you put a price on a human
body? Please tell the world what has happened here. We can do nothing for
ourselves; we are very poor, simple people. "All I know is that the
Americans make mistakes and then apologise. But they can not buy our
silence. An Afghan life is worth just the same as an American life, the same
as any life," said Mawes. He was working through the night at a nearby
hostel when he heard an explosion. He had no idea that it was the sound of
his home taking a direct hit, “ I thought they are searching for Osama bin
Ladin, but everyone knows he is not here”. "When I heard the bomb drop I had
no idea my home had been hit until I arrived in the morning and it was gone.
"The Americans were removing their missile bits and said sorry, then they

When he walked in to the demolished courtyard Mawes saw the corpses of nine
of his children lying next to two of their dead cousins. His daughters
Irana, 6, Fatima, 7, Hassana, 10, Bakhmala, 15, Marama, 20, and Bibi 25,
were buried last Thursday with their brothers Hazrat, aged two, Noor Wali,
five and Sheer Wali, aged 11. Their cousins Syed, two, and 20-year-old
Marama, children of Sardar Ali and Zarbakhta Khan were buried in the same
service at Bermil village cemetery.

Huge sobs and wails could be heard from many of the 2000 men who arrived for
the Muslim service as the 11 bodies, covered in white shrouds were placed in
separate graves. The areas police commander Gul Mohammed, said he and his
men helped the family dig the graves because there were so many. Policing in
his district has become increasingly difficult in recent weeks because of
the American Special Forces presence, and this bombing has increased the

The Khan's nephew also called Gul Mohammed, stood at the graves and said:
"They are all Shaheeds (martyrs), every one of them. They are all innocents,
victims of US bombs. "Before they were buried I looked at their faces and
they seemed so normal. Their bodies were intact and they looked as though
they were sleeping. "The bodies of my cousins are now lying here and I still
can not believe it." In Bermil Village, which is less than a stone's throw
from the Pakistan border, many of the families are suffering from shell
shock and side effects of the bombing. Neighbouring homes have also been
structurally damaged.

Orphan Rahim Ullah, 14, who was taken in by the Khan's five years ago,
nursed a badly injured arm which was still bleeding when we arrived on
Thursday. His cousin, Izatullah, 12, had suffered a head injury. Both were
still numb and dazed by the air strike. The injuries of other victims,
including pensioners Mohammed Amir Khan and Khan Zaman are less obvious.
Both men are now deaf and blind from the blast. "They have received nothing,
not even an apology," said Mawes who, despite his own loss, took time to
comfort the two elders who were sitting hunched, sobbing and shaking. Scores
of others are clearly traumatised by the bombing but the nearest hospital is
in the neighbouring province of Gazny, a 12 hour drive away. Any practical
medical help and long-term counselling is unlikely. Few aid agencies work in
the area which is regarded as extremely dangerous and the UN recently
suspended all operations because of "deteriorating security" following the
murder of an International Red cross delegate in nearby Oruzgan last month.

The presence of American Special Forces in the district is clearly
unwelcome. One villager said: "They come and go and ignore us as though we
are animals underneath their feet. "If they left so would the fighters who
only come here because they want to kill Americans. The Americans say they
want to get Bin Laden but instead they kill us. "The Americans have made too
many mistakes. They are not welcome. "Tell the world what they are doing
here. They are trying to keep us silent and keep their mistakes quiet so no
one will find out. Please let someone knows."

Another villager, who also asked to remain anonymous, added: "Everyone is
afraid of the Americans. We just wish they would go. They have done nothing
to improve our lives. They abuse us, our women, our homes, they openly cause
us pain and sadness. "We need Peace Keepers here, not Americans who pay more
for their bombs than they do their mistakes."

This was a sharp contrast to the millions of dollars given to the families
as compensation for the loss of their loved ones in Lockerbie.

Just as a note of interest - I was one of the first journalists to arrive in
Lockerbie the night that the PanAm Flight 103 exploded overhead. I can tell
you that the bodies of Americans blown apart by bombs look exactly the same
as Afghan bodies pulled out of the wreckage of Bermil. Why is the value of
life so different?

This was written by Yvonne Ridley the british journalist captured by the afghanistans and converted to islam after her release

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02-15-2006, 07:56 PM
Jazak'Allah khair for postin the artcile i like Yvonne Ridley stuff :)

02-15-2006, 08:00 PM
Man if you see this man, the pictures really do speak, makes one very humble.

02-15-2006, 08:03 PM
articles like this aim to show us that our brothers and sisters are suffering and we need to feel the pain, not just read and think, another village is wiped out or another 20 or so muslims are killed etc.
when we hear of any father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter being killed we should feel as if our family has been killed...

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02-16-2006, 02:36 AM
Mashallah..jzakallah khairun sis..:)

Eric H
02-16-2006, 05:20 PM
Greetings and peace to you all,

It is always the poor people of any faith and any nation that suffer the most,
we must keep them in our prayers

God bless.


02-16-2006, 05:30 PM
jazakallah sis its a very sad story......All we can do for our fellow muslims is to feel their pain and share their sorrows but thats all we can do for them.....May Allah guide and protect his Ummah

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