Stopwar Statement on the 11th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan

October 7, 2012 marks 11 years since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, which took place on October 7, 2001. During these 11 years, Afghanistan has been under military occupation by the U.S. and other western countries, under the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since July 31, 2006.

The invasion of Afghanistan deposed the Taliban government of 1996-2001, and installed the government of President Hamid Karzai. Karzai’s corrupt government is backed by the tribal warlords that control most of Afghanistan, and has passed laws that severely restrict Women’s rights.

For most of the past 11 years, the U.S.-led forces, along with Afghan Security Forces, have been fighting a counter-insurgency war against the Taliban and other groups that have been waging a resistance against the occupation. Since 2009, the U.S. has launched regular drone attacks in northern Pakistan, where much of the resistance to the occupation is based.

To date, 3,097 members of the occupation forces have been killed in Afghanistan, and at least 23,500 wounded; 1,143 contractors have been killed, and at least 15,000 wounded. 10,086 Afghan Security Forces personnel have been killed, and between 12,500 and 14,700 civilians have been killed. Reliable figures do not exist for the number of resistance fighters killed.

Canada has been an active participant in the war in Afghanistan. The first secret Canadian forces arrived in Afghanistan in October 2001, and Canada has been openly involved in Afghanistan since January 2002. From January 2006 to July 2011, Canada was involved in direct combat operations in Afghanistan. 158 members of the Canadian Forces have been killed in the war, and Canada had 2,500 Canadian Forces members in Afghanistan at the height of its operations.

Afghanistan is the number one recipient of Canadian government aid. From 2001 to 2011, Canada gave $1.64 billion in aid to Afghanistan, yet it has done little to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans. Canada’s aid has primarily propped up corrupt warlords and built prisons to detain suspected Taliban fighters. In 2011, Canada halted its project to rebuild the Dhala Dam when it withdrew from Kandahar province. This summer, Canada pledged an additional $227 million in aid, much of it for a counter-narcotics program.

Canadian public opinion has been consistently against the war, and a majority of Canadians opposed Canada’s direct combat role. After repeated promises to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Harper government replaced the direct combat mission with a 950 person strong training mission of Afghan Security Forces in 2011. From this time, the Canadian government and mainstream media have propogated the lie that Canada is no longer at war in Afghanistan.

Stopwar, Vancouver’s broad anti-war coalition, opposes the ongoing war in Afghanistan. We reject the NATO timeline for withdrawal that would have troops from NATO countries remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, and call for the immediate withdrawal of all NATO troops. We support the right of self-determination for the Afghan people, free of western intervention.

Stopwar calls on the Canadian government to immediately end Canada’s ongoing involvement in the war in Afghanistan under the guise of the training mission. We call on the Canadian government to recognize the right to self-determination for the Afghan people, withdraw all Canadian military personnel, and to provide reparations and genuine aid to the war-torn country.