September 4th 2009 – An Open Wound

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If someone would decide to bomb a large group of people whilst being aware of the fact that civilians are most likely to be among them he would probably face massive legal prosecution. The court in Bonn, Germany, has now declared that the man who did excactly this, was doing nothing but his job.
It was on September the 4th, when two tank trucks loaded with petrol got stuck in the shallow bed of Kunduz river. The trucks had been abducted by the Taliban the day before, but had then been abandoned in the mud for the moment. At night, more than a hundred Afghans from a dozen surrounding villages gathered around the vehicles to look for things that might still be of use, like clothes or food. Especially the prospect of free gas, which many couldn’t afford, attracted people of all different ages.
In the Camp of german soldiers 15 kilometres away, the commander of „provincial reconstruction team Kunduz“ colonel Georg Klein receives reports on the gathering of Afghans on the trucks that where captured the day before. Believing that the people on the Kunduz river sand bank are opposing military insurgents, he orders US-force bombers to deliver heavy artillery. When the bomber pilotes send live video pictures from their front cameras that show a huge group of people, they ask colonel Klein several times if they should not rather try to chase away the people by flying close to the ground. His answer is a clear no. But nstead of the six bombs that Klein had instructed, the pilots drop two. Their doubts are to be cofirmed as justified.
In this night, more than 130 people die. Nearly fourty are children from the age of five to 16, the rest are mostly farmers, tractor drivers, common people. But most importantly, they were fathers to a total of over 160 children who’s families are now on their own. In fact, no more than five of the people killed where members of the Taliban.
While the lives of so many where destroyed in a few minutes, back in Germany colonen Klein has been promoted to a higher position within the military. Two victims of the Kunduz massacre had pledged for compensation at the high court in Bonn: Abdul Hannan, who had lost his two sons aged eight and twelve, and Quraisha Ra’uf who’s husband was killed in the NATO bombing attack. She now has to raise six children on her own. But on December 11th, their attorney Karim Popal had bad news for them. Klein and the federal republic of Germany had not been found guilty. The colonel for example said, he could only identify tiny black dots on the video screens. Also he could’t be sure that there was no cooperation with the enemy, the Taliban. All in all, this judgement has been very unsatisfying not only for the attorney Popal and the victims Hannan and Ra’uf, who have to carry the trial costs by themselves. It is seen very critically throughout Germany, but for the Afghan people and all the victims of Kunduz it is a humiliation to see the man who killed their children has not even been suspended from office, but even gets to work in a higher position. Justice has not been done, considering that the Kunduz massacre in 2009 was the worst atrocity by German soldiers since 1945. Karim Popal promised to initiate another trial.
The jugement that has been made in Bonn is yet another symbol for the inequality in treatment of people in the Middle East and the west. The former german politician and author Jürgen Todenhöfer sums this up with the statement: „In the last few years, Afghanistan has whitnessed several 9/11s.“

Edris Joya, afghan freelance journalist

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