Two Choices: Taliban or Child Raping Police

Saturday, August 01, 2009
Taliban: Lesser of two evils?

The Taliban may be known for their harsh rule of law, but at least they enforce it. This sentiment captured the feelings of many in Afghanistan’s Helmand province who were not displeased to see Taliban fighters forced out by advancing U.S. Marines and British soldiers this month, but were also not happy about who replaced them. Afghanis told American and British military personnel that they were afraid of local police—many of whom are ex-militia loyal to a local warlord—returning to power because, not only do they lack professionalism, but also have a predilection for depravity.

According to locals, the police in Helmand have been known to steal from people and abduct pre-teen boys and rape them. They often demand bribes or kickbacks at checkpoints, or cut deals with opium smugglers. The police even demonstrated a reckless disregard for American soldiers when they pulled into the town of Aynak.
Earlier this month a group of about 150 Marines and Afghan soldiers approached the police headquarters in Aynak and were fired upon by the police. The Americans maintained their cool, and were eventually allowed inside the headquarters. There, they found a ragtag police force smoking cannabis, loading their weapons in a threatening manner, and using an open-pit toilet. As the Marines departed, their commander told his men to watch his back while exiting the building. “I don’t trust a single one of them,” he told the Associated Press.
Neither do the Afghanis.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Crooked Afghan Police Challenge Marines (by Jason Straziuso and David Guttenfelder, Associated Press)


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