August 2008 Report – Part One

The remote village of YawKawlang in Bamiyaan Province of Afghanistan is relatively small; scattering of crumbling mud homes with a front and back yard full of planted crops and an orchid of apples, figs, apricots and black berries on some that have bigger, more affluent lots. All of them own animals; for sheep and cattle are survival lifelines in the very harsh winters, not only for milk and meat, but for warmth emitted from their bodies as well. All villagers of this village, live below the poverty line by Western standards, but never go hungry, for they almost always manage to seek out a living from the soil in summer and the animals in winter. Poor yes, but content and thankful to Allah for the few bounties that come their way. Until January 1, 2001 …

It was bitterly cold that fateful day; the snow lay a meter high on the ground. The entire village shivered as the mercury kept on dropping, made even worse by blowing winds, biting into exposed skin to leave it sore and even bleeding on the very young. Even so, Aaghae Modarresi tugged towards the hawza to head up the day’s instructions to some 60 talibs in various Islamic disciplines.

First report of trouble came at about noon when a student showed up late, trembling with fear. At a distance from the village centre, he had seen strangers with long beards rounding up people at gunpoint and demanding all males be assembled outside the main large mosque. Everybody at the hawza immediately felt fear, for all knew who the strangers were; the dreaded and loathed Talibaan. They had heard reports of killings and the savage rule of this group but never been victims themselves before. Aaghae and his students decided to play it safe and hid at a safe house a distance away.

When they thought it was safe to come out later that day, they were the only males that remained alive. The Talibaan, under orders of Mulla Dadullah, had performed ablutions, prayed to Allah to bless them and accept their jihad, then summarily machine gunned every male member over 5 years old of age at YawKawlang village that day. In all, 373 momeneen lost their lives to a bullet, just because they were born in a household that loved Imam Ali (AS) and aqeeda of his wilaaya.

The bodies lay in the same spot where they fell for 7 days, waiting burial; Mulla Dadullah refuses all attempts by the surviving women and Aaghae Modarresi and his group of talibs, (who have been spared for mysterious reasons) to either call for help from nearby villages or let the survivors begin burial rituals. It is only after 7 days, when the bodies finally begin cold retarded decomposition, do Mulla Dadullah and his henchmen lose interest and move on …

Allah (S) was kind to grant me, together with Sayyedna Mussawi of WABIL in London, Gulam Virji (Suku Suku) from Dubai and Mulla Mujahidali Sheriff from Portsmouth of Orison Charitable Trust, London, an opportunity to visit Bamiyaan and YawKawlang where the massacres of 2001 by the Talibaan took place. I had failed to visit these places on my July 2008 visit due to the remoteness of the area and running out of time. But alhamd’Allah, we made it this time, taking advantage and safety of chartered flights made possible by the generosity and kindness of Gulambhai. May Allah (S) give Gulambhai a long and healthy life so that he may continue with the sacrifices that is a pillar of strength for CAI and many others.

Even so, our trip was strenuous and not without some element of danger, especially the drive from YawKawlang to Kabul of 167 miles that took over 16 hours. We were also blessed to visit Mazaar before this and in all the three stops plus Kabul, we participated in the distribution of iftaar packages to the poor and destitute. My heart broke in both Bamayaan and YawKawlang when we ran out of rations and the lines of women with children remained. Gulambhai rescued us again with promise of 650 additional families who will receive their share this week, insha’Allah. We also witnessed the mass marriage of 50 poor couples who were sponsored by CAI; we made the local and national news in Afghanistan and even Dubai newspapers; maasha’Allah!

A glimmer of light:

1. Mulla Dadullah was killed by his own pack of dog followers about 3 months ago.

2. The sorry and unjust plight of Hazara is slowly (too slow for me) coming to light, alhamd’Allah, through our efforts but more so due to people like you, our donors. I beg you to support them materially, these people whose only crime is their beliefs. They have been systematically tortured, killed and are still being discriminated for this and no other reason. This makes it incumbent (in my books anyway) to console, help and assist them. If we cannot assist them materially, we must talk of their plight and make the world aware of what happened; is happening. The problems of Afghanistan in general are seemingly hopelessly immense; CAI cannot begin to address them itself. We will need a coordinated effort, all of us; the leaders of our community, the ulema and most importantly, you. You can make a HUGE difference and I beg you help in any way possible, either materially or through propagation.

3. There is talk of compensation of the victims to their families through the UN / EU against countries that supported the Talibaan. I cannot go into the details at the moment but CAI is following through possibilities and insha’Allah, will pursue opportunities; please pray for our success.

I will end here and urge you to browse through the photos.

Jazaak’Allah and Allah bless.

Yusuf Yusufali

Inside plane
Ziarat-e-Ashura – Aaghae Musawi reciting at 14,000 feet; between Kabul and Mazaar so that the mountains would be witness we remembered Abaa Abdillah Hussein (A). Great feeling …
Charter plane
YawKawlang Iftaar
YawKawlang Iftaar
YawKawlang Iftaar
YawKawlang Iftaar
YawKawlang Speech
BandAli – An area of crisp clean water supposedly visited by Imam Ali (AS).
YawKawlang apple tree
17 year old groom
Greeting the couples
Marriage guests
Marriage guests
I was interviewed!
Few couples
Off to Bamiyaan
Bamiyaan iftaar
Bamiyaan iftaar
Mazaar
Mazaar
Freezing wudhoo
Mazaar iftaar
Mazaar iftaar
Mazaar iftaar
Mazaar – This village lost 7 people due to starvation a week before our visit.
We found this boy who lost both parents to the Talibaan so sad looking, it tore at our hearts. He simply would not smile, no matter how much we tried. His hands were terribly scarred due to winter exposure. He now lives with his uncle …