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More on helping to free the Taliban hostages

15 August 2007

In a new sign of hope, the Taliban released their first two hostages yesterday. The attention and persuasion is beginning to work–but 19 young people, mostly women, still face execution and the nightmare of captivity.

Over 90,000 of us from 187 countries have rushed to help, and added our voices to an emergency petition, calling on the Taliban to honour their own ‘Pashtunwali’ code of hospitality by releasing the hostages. This week, we’ll spread our message across Afghanistan, by running the petition as a full page ad in a major newspaper, the Killid Weekly. Officials have given us the phone number of the Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusef Ahmadi–so we will also call him to deliver our message directly to the Taliban leadership.

The Killid Weekly ad, and the phone call to Ahmadi, will be more effective the greater our numbers. We need to get well over 100,000 signers in the next 24 hours, and massively grow the petition this week. Please forward this email to as many friends as possible and ask them to sign the petition at the link below:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/honour_the_afghan_code/c.php/?cl=15734212

Afghans tell us that asking the Taliban to respect their own code of honour is a powerfully persuasive message. In 2003 an aid worker named Bettina Goislard, 29, was shot dead by Taliban gunmen. Local people chased down the gunmen and handed them over to the police–and then marched hundreds of miles to Kabul with Bettina’s body to show their shame and remorse.

Although they were Christian evangelicals, all evidence says that the Koreans were in Afghanistan to do aid work, not to convert Afghans to their faith. As with other hostages, like the German engineers, the Taliban targeted them for political and tactical reasons, not religious ones.

The lives of 19 innocent people hang in the balance. So do the lives of many Afghan civilians who rely on international help–because if the Koreans die, other aid groups may leave. This week we have two major opportunities to be heard by the Taliban. Our strength lies in our numbers. If you have already signed the petition and would like to send a message to your email address book, click below to use our tool:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/honour_the_afghan_code/c.php?cl=15734212#tellafriend

With hope,

Ricken, Iain, Pascal, Graziela and the rest of the Avaaz Team

PS – You can read more about the ‘Pashtunwali’ code and its ethic of hospitality here:
http://afghanland.com/culture/pashtunwali.html

And here’s a recent article on the hostage crisis:
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/14/asia/AS-GEN-Afghan-Kidnappings.php

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 August 2007 7:02 pm

    I heard about this story as it broke the news a few days ago, but have heard NOTHING since then… I suppose their lives hanging in the balance as you say, is not “news worthy.” This kind of thing makes me sick.

    I’ll sign the petition, no problem. I was not aware there was such a strong code of honor in such a despicable organization.

  2. 16 August 2007 7:10 pm

    You know… I was thinking… If global pressure has spurred action in releasing hostages in the past, and it actually works, why are we not doing the same thing for peace in general in that country (and Iraq)?

    Kind of a dumb and obvious question, I know, but if 100,000 people can lobby for this, why can they not do the same for other issues?

    Just a thought.

  3. 2 September 2007 3:00 pm

    You make a good point here Brad. The Koreans have taken a very good route, choosing as they did, to negotiate. It is after all a war zone. As despicable and act as it was, we all know that the conflict we faced in South Africa, often led to terrible atrocities on all sides. Yes, lobbying and talking is good. We should work toward that, in God’s name.

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