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Protest against escalating U.S. war and mineral exploitation in Afghanistan

By staff |
June 19, 2010
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Antiwar speaker from IVAW at rally against Afghanistan war
(Ed Felien)
Protesters at Afghanistan antiwar rally

On Thursday, anti-war activists protested at Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office to demonstrate against the Obama administration’s escalating war in Afghanistan. The Anti-War Committee of Minneapolis-St. Paul organized the protest. 

With the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan last December, civilian casualties increased dramatically. Rhetoric from the Obama administration expresses concern for civilian deaths, but the violence continues. Last month, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry reported that civilian casualties jumped by 33% in a recent month-long period. Afghan officials reported 173 civilian deaths from March 21-April 21 of this year and stated, “An increasing number are at the hands of U.S. and foreign forces.” On May 10, the New York Times reported that shootings of Afghan civilians by U.S. and NATO convoys at military checkpoints have spiked sharply. At least 28 Afghans were killed and 43 wounded in convoy and checkpoint shootings this year. Despite widespread opposition from the people of Afghanistan, the U.S. is considering a large-scale military offensive in Kandahar, a city of half a million people. 

Anti-War Committee member Katrina Plotz explains, “The presence of U.S. troops is an unjust foreign occupation that is actually causing, rather than solving the problems of violence, displacement, and poverty in Afghanistan. The Afghan people deserve the right to determine the future of their country for themselves. The U.S. has no business attacking Kandahar or continuing to occupy Afghan soil for another day.” 

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that U.S. geologists discovered $1 trillion in untapped mineral reserves in Afghanistan, including large deposits of gold, copper, cobalt, and lithium – a key mineral in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and cell phones. American geologists began studying the potential for mining in Afghanistan in 2004. The Pentagon already hired international accounting firms with mining expertise and is preparing to turn over technical data to multinational mining companies and American investors.

“It has recently surfaced that Afghanistan is rich in mineral reserves and I cringe to think of the fresh exploitation that promises to come of this. Because as loudly as we proclaim “No Blood for Oil” we must also demand “No Blood for Lithium” either,” said Misty Rowan of the Anti-War Committee to the crowd. “Do not make the citizens of Kandahar pay with their lives, and do not make the citizens of this country pay with the tax dollars we desperately need here at home!”

Ray Camper from Iraq Veterans Against War also spoke at the demonstration, “As a Veteran, I am using my voice for those who cannot. I am speaking not just on behalf of myself, but for all those who have seen enough war, enough death, and enough of our human and monetary capital being diverted away from where it is needed the most. Bring our men and women home and provide them with jobs. Keep our money here, and provide schools and an education for our children. Let’s build houses and communities here, instead of tearing down and destroying them abroad.”

The Twin Cities Anti-War Committee is planning more public outreach and protests in the coming months.