Media silence over violence in Afghanistan
Think back to the last time you did some morning shopping. On your list of things to purchase are apples, eggs, grapes, and milk. You buy your groceries, and the next thing you know, an explosion has shaken the grocery store. Around 50 people are dead. More than 60 others are injured. The date is July 15th, 2014. You are in the Paktika province of Afghanistan. The grocery store is a bazaar, and the package on the motorcycle you just walked past has detonated.
Sound familiar? Yes, bombings in Afghanistan sound familiar. Afghan civilians have suffered for decades on this beaten path. But this specific bombing? Not so familiar – this is due to the fact that mainstream Western media has failed to bring it to the public’s attention.
In most cases, television’s mainstream media discards such events in Afghanistan, and for a heart wrenching reason: bombings, massacres, and civilian casualties are seen as “inevitable.” “Accepted.” “Costs of war.” On July 25th, a group of armed men forced three minibuses to a stop in Afghanistan’s Ghor Province. All passengers were ordered to exit and hold out their identification cards – and then, execution style, the armed men shot and killed all Shi’a Muslims who were on the buses. The body count totaled fifteen. Should an event like this really be accepted and labeled as common?
Perhaps these events are “common” in Afghanistan. They occur continuously. But to limit media attention for that particular reason is dehumanizing. Afghan civilians have been dying for years now – thus, such incidents have become a “routine.” The world has slowly grown accustomed to them, and thus, has stopped caring about them. The media now cannot be bothered to cover events that have become something of a pattern.
Of course, this does not apply to all media stations and news platforms. Al Jazeera, a Qatari-based Arab broadcast news station, is quite a good source of information on international news. It continuously updates articles on its website, and Afghanistan has seen more coverage on Al Jazeera than perhaps any other news station.
However, other mainstream media programs do not appear to care too much for Afghan civilians. FOX News’ last thorough coverage of Afghanistan was on the 5th of August, when a U.S. general was killed in Kabul. The same is true for ABC news.
There have been countless attacks, bombings, and illegal executions in the past month alone. While impossible to pinpoint the exact number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan during these past few months, the number is reportedly well into the hundreds. Taliban officials continue to conduct and claim attacks, massacres, and the general taking of lives across the country. Where is the media coverage?
I do not attempt to belittle the death of U.S. General Harold Greene earlier this month. However, if the passing of a single individual deserves so many days of coverage, then why is the case not the same with the massive amount of civilians who have been unjustly killed in the same country?
In Afghanistan, hundreds of children will have to go through extensive therapy to be able to feel even slightly comfortable with the world again. Thousands of people will never get that chance to begin the healing process, due to Afghanistan’s lack of resources. Men and women will forever grieve the loss of their children, spouses, and parents. The country itself is deteriorating before our eyes – or, more accurately, behind our backs. The world cannot continue to remain oblivious to the terrors that civilians in Afghanistan, and other parts of the Eastern world, live through daily.
Do not be akin to those who have given up. Do not become “accustomed” to the thousands of unjust civilian deaths. Do not accept such deaths as inevitable. Do not dehumanize the Afghan people. Do not dehumanize yourself. Hope is not lost – you just have to look for it.
Amnesty International, a human rights organization, recently released an extensive report on Afghanistan and inequitable Western abuses of power within the country. This report received online attention from the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, and CBS news. From this single report, thousands of people have been informed that the war crimes committed in Afghanistan are anything but inevitable.
There’s your taste of hope. Realize that people still care. Realize that you do not have to remain silent.
Educate yourself. Find out the facts. Read about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Read about the Taliban. Read about the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Realize that what you knew as true may not be very accurate after all – and create change. Utilize social media to its fullest extent; you will be surprised by the difference you can make. Donate to organizations, non-profits, and charities that strive to help those in need.. If you have connections to media outlets, reach out to them. Do not allow them to remain silent. Do not allow yourself to remain silent.
You have a voice. Use it.