An Afghan refugee's message to Americans

I am an Afghan villager who has lived most of her life in rural Afghanistan. You might think of us, 85 percent or more of the Afghan population, as illiterate. But I am educated, with a college degree. I was asked in Pakistan to interview Afghan refugees. I interviewed about 20 of them and visited at least 10 camps ranging in population from 10,000 to 100,000 refugees. The refugees all had one message to the world and to people of the United States of America: Give us weapons!

I bring you their message because the refugees made me responsible for doing so and because these proud Afghans, who have proven their bravery, have something in common with you. They are freedom lovers. They respect their religion, culture, and humanity. And I write to you because I want you to be aware of what is going on in that part of the world. America is a symbol of freedom and the Afghan people's only hope against the Russians.

In one camp an old man shook with anger, bent down, and picked up a stone from the ground. He held it in front of my eyes and half screaming said: "Ask the Americans: How can we fight with this? Are we to fight with sticks and shovels?"

"We don't want sympathy," said a younger man. "We don't need fancy blankets. . . . We need something to fight with. . . . We need modern weapons to stop the airplanes and helicopters which massacre our people by the thousands."

"We have men," he said. "We don't want anyone else to fight for us. We want to have the honor for ourselves of destroying the criminals who have murdered our innocent people, destroyed thousands of our villages, and forced millions of us to be refugees in other countries. We want to be the ones to defeat the traitors and the invaders."

You must remember that our ancestors always fought for their freedom. They were not so fortunate as to have schools, roads, hospitals, and electricity. But they never allowed foreigners to dominate their country. As one of my Afghan refugee brothers said, "We will fight as long as we live."

I have seen many refugee camps where you don't have to interview the people to know their immediate needs. I have seen wounded freedom fighters who receive no care or medication whatsoever. I have seen women perish right in front of my eyes. I have been surrounded by malnourished children.

"Sister, our families are suffering and dying from disease, fifth, malnutrition, and the heat in the tents," one refugee said to me. "But despite all the heartbreak . . . we don't mind, because we are counting on the day when we can go home."

Go to the Afghan refugee camps and see for yourself. See how they fight and with what kind of weapons. Then you will appreciate the faith of the Afghan people. You will say, God is great!

I have asked many refugees what made them flee their beloved country. The answer was that the Russians bombed their villages or overran them with tanks and troops. With tears in their eyes, the refugees told of how they left their cotton fields in Qunduz, their wheat farms in Logar, their grape vineyards in Parwan, and their almond, peach, and apple orchards in Ghorband and Badakhshan.

What the Afghan people had was a blue sky, high mountains, natural food -- and freedom. They now live in a foreign country and look at the circumstances!

What I have told you is not a fairy tale. It is a factual picture of what is happening in my country. It is up to you and the Western world to do something about it before it is too late.

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