Tuesday, 3 January 2017

An Ancient Curse Still Holds Afghanistan In Its Thrall

Healing in His Wings

When Christian missionaries first came to New Zealand in the early eighteen hundreds they were confronted by the Maori inhabitants who were sunk into gross sin--the sin of cannibalism.  The first Maori cleric, Matiu Taupaki specifically mentioned this curse upon the land when he spoke at a memorial service for one of the early missionaries, Henry Williams in 1876: 
"In an attempt to preserve the good, and disinter it from the bones, around 900 Maori from all parts of the country gathered at Paihia on the 11th January, 1876, having raised 200 pounds to erect a memorial to the late Henry Williams.  Reverend Matiu Taupaki--the first Maori to be ordained--delivered the oration at the unveiling of the memorial for Williams before the assembled Maori representatives.
Think of the wickedness of our island.  The exceeding heavy stone which weighed us down was cannibalism, but that did not deter him.  He forsook his own country and people, parents and relatives.  He arrived here in 1823.  He landed at Paihia, and there built his first fortress, the church standing before you.  It was in that fortress he forged the weapons of war wherewith to overthrow the strongholds of the earth." [ContraCelsum.  Emphasis, ours.]
Sometimes a gross sin is so insinuated into a culture that it becomes a damning blight that only the power of the risen Son of God can remove.  In the words of Matiu Taupaki, the curse gets to the point where it "is an exceeding heavy stone" which weighs the culture and people down.  In pre-missionary New Zealand it was cannibalism.  In Afghanistan it is the homosexual rape and sexual slavery of young boys.

This from Yahoo News:

Quivering with quiet rage, Shirin holds a photo of his teenage brother-in-law, who now lives as the plaything of policemen, just one victim of a hidden epidemic of kidnappings of young boys for institutionalised sexual slavery in Afghanistan.

Shirin is among 13 families AFP traced and interviewed across three Afghan provinces who said their children were taken for the pervasive practice of "bacha bazi", or paedophilic exploitation, in Western-backed security forces.  Their testimonies shine a rare spotlight on the anguished, solitary struggles to free sons, nephews and cousins from a tradition of culturally-sanctioned enslavement and rape.

Shirin recalled how his 13-year-old brother-in-law screamed and writhed as he was taken from his home earlier this year by a police commander in southern Helmand.  "When I begged for his release, his men pointed their guns and said: 'Do you want your family to die? Forget your boy'," Shirin told AFP in Lashkar Gah.  "Our boys are openly abducted for bacha bazi. Where should we go for help? The Taliban?"

The heart-wrenching stories, mostly from Helmand but also from neighbouring Uruzgan and northern Baghlan, were revealed after AFP reported in June how the Taliban are exploiting bacha bazi in police ranks to mount deadly insider attacks.  The report, denied by the insurgents, prompted an Afghan government investigation.  AFP is withholding the names of the victims and the accused police commanders as many of the boys are still being held captive.

A common theme in the testimonies collected from stricken families was that of helplessness. Their boys were mostly abducted in broad daylight; from their homes, opium farms and playgrounds.  Once taken captive, they can be shuffled among police checkpoints, complicating efforts to trace them.  Sometimes they emerge into the open as policemen flaunt their spoils.

For fathers like Sardarwali, the crushed hope of such an encounter is almost too much to bear.  After months of fruitless searching, he caught a glimpse of his kidnapped son in a crowded marketplace in Helmand's Gereshk district.  The child -- a slight boy who loved nothing better than playing with his siblings -- was dressed in a fine embroidered tunic and wore a bejewelled skull cap.

Sardarwali was desperate to reach out to his son, to hold him -- but did not dare approach the bevy of policemen that surrounded him.  "I watched him disappear into the distance," Sardarwali said.  "His mother is crazed with grief. She cannot stop crying: 'We have lost our son forever.'" . . .

Bacha bazi has seen a chilling resurgence in post-Taliban Afghanistan, where it is not widely perceived as homosexual or un-Islamic behaviour.  Young boys dressed effeminately have an ornamental value in a society where the genders are tightly corralled. Their possession is a mark of social status, power and masculinity.

The practice has spurred a violent culture of one-upmanship within police ranks, as officers jealously compete to snatch the most beautiful boys, said a former top Helmand security official.  "Often the only escape for enslaved bachas is to make a deal with the Taliban: 'Liberate me and I will help you get my abuser's head and weapons'," the official said, referring to insider attacks.

The Afghan government has said it has zero tolerance for child abusers in security ranks.  But Uruzgan government spokesman Dost Mohammad Nayab acknowledged nearly every provincial checkpoint had a bacha. He fears any move to extricate them could see angry policemen abandoning their posts, paving the way for the Taliban.  "It is difficult to separate policemen from their bachas in this security situation," Nayab said, explaining that police serve as a pivotal first line of defence against insurgents.
The Americans with all their command and control, their military might, their Apache attack helicopters, have not been able to remove this curse from Afghanistan.  The Taliban adjust their tactics around it and have been complicit in the past.

May this ancient people eventually be delivered from their sins by the Saviour of mankind.  He comes with healing in His wings.   May it please the Lord to have mercy upon Afghanistan, and raise up many like the Reverend Henry Williams in early 19th century New Zealand:
He landed at Paihia, and there built his first fortress, the church standing before you.  It was in that fortress he forged the weapons of war wherewith to overthrow the strongholds of the earth."
May the strongholds of the earth, the fastness of an ancient evil, the very Gates of Hell in Afghanistan be overthrown by the servants of the Son of God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I am lead to believe that Afghanistan is the biggest growth area for Evangelical Christianity in the world at present - from a low base for sure but still a big shift. It is darkest just before the dawn.

Secondly, I have read of American troops that dealt to men abusing boys and were then punished by their superior seat polishers in the US for doing do.