Dáil debates

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Afghanistan Crisis: Statements


6:22 pm

Photo of Mick BarryMick Barry (Cork North Central, Solidarity) | Oireachtas source

Despite proclamations by the Taliban that it will be different this time, the horror of rule by extreme Islamic fundamentalism is already there for all to see in Afghanistan. Female employees in Kabul's city government have been instructed to stay at home. High school girl students have been instructed not to return to class. Executions and amputations have been restored as punishment for criminals. Journalists have been arrested and other attacks made on press freedoms. The ministry for women has been renamed the ministry for the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice.

The return of US imperialist rule is not on the cards but it would not be a solution in any case. More than 100,000 Afghan people were killed or injured under Washington's war on terror regime. In one recent year, more Afghan civilians were killed by occupying forces than by the Taliban. Under the occupation, corruption was rife and ordinary Afghans were treated with colonial disdain. The key beneficiaries of the occupation were the weapons manufacturers and military contractors who got the lion's share of the $1 trillion spent by the occupying power. US imperialism was the force which had armed and financed the mujahidin warlords in the 1980s, when they went to war with the Soviets. From the mujahidin came the Taliban and al-Qaeda. US imperialism spawned the Taliban in the first place.

Neither imperialist intervention nor rule by Islamic fundamentalism offers any way forward for the Afghan masses. The hope for the future lies in those masses, in particular the urban population and new generation of women whose interests clash so sharply with those of the country's new rulers. In time, I hope the clash results in a popular challenge to the rule of the Taliban and puts onto the agenda a democratic workers' and peasants' government that explicitly champions the liberation of women. Such a government would find its key allies not in the ministries of London and Washington, but in the working class of neighbouring countries, not least Pakistan. A socialist federation of those countries, based on the right of nationalities to self-determination, would represent a decisive step forward.

I will comment on the Afghan admission programme. Afghan nationals living in Ireland since 1 September can sponsor up to four family members. This is restrictive and will force people to choose between family members in some cases. What is fair or humane about that? Why is the scheme starting in December? Why is it not starting at the beginning of October? There are 1,200 Afghan nationals residing in Ireland, but only 500 places on the programme. This is far too low. Given the horrors that people in Afghanistan are experiencing and enduring, we should not put in place such restrictions.


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