Author Topic: Foreign contractors hired Afghan 'dancing boys', WikiLeaks cable reveals  (Read 4241 times)

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Offline EmmanuelGoldstein⌛

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Foreign contractors hired Afghan 'dancing boys', WikiLeaks cable reveals

Episode fuelled Afghan demands that private security firms be brought much more under government control

    Jon Boone
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 December 2010 21.30 GMT


WikiLeaks cables show Afghan interior minister Hanif Atmar was in a panic over the scandal involving foreign contractors. Atmar resigned in June this year. Photograph: Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images

A scandal involving foreign contractors employed to train Afghan policemen who took drugs and paid for young "dancing boys" to entertain them in northern Afghanistan caused such panic that the interior minister begged the US embassy to try and "quash" the story, according to one of the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

In a meeting with the assistant US ambassador, a panicked Hanif Atmar, the interior minister at the time of the episode last June, warned that the story would "endanger lives" and was particularly concerned that a video of the incident might be made public.

The episode helped to fuel Afghan demands that contractors and private security companies be brought under much tighter government control. However, the US embassy was legally incapable of honouring a request by Atmar that the US military should assume authority over training centres managed by DynCorp, the US company whose employees were involved in the incident in the northern province of Kunduz.

There is a long tradition of young boys dressing up as girls and dancing for men in Afghanistan, an activity that sometimes crosses the line into child abuse with Afghans keeping boys as possessions.

Although rarely discussed or criticised in Afghanistan, it is conceivable that the involvement of foreigners could have turned into a major public scandal. Atmar himself warned about public anger towards contractors, who he said "do not have many friends" and said they needed far greater oversight.

He also said tighter control was needed over Afghan employees of such companies as well.

"He was convinced that the Kunduz incident, and other events where mentors had obtained drugs, could not have happened without Afghan participation," the cable said.

Two Afghan policemen and nine other Afghans were arrested as part of investigations into a crime described by Atmar as "purchasing a service from a child", which the cable said was against both sharia law and the civil code.

He insisted that a journalist looking into the incident should be told that the story would endanger lives, and that the US should try to quash the story. But US diplomats cautioned against an "overreaction" and said that approaching the journalist involved would only make the story worse.

"A widely-anticipated newspaper article on the Kunduz scandal has not appeared but, if there is too much noise that may prompt the journalist to publish," the cable said.

The strategy appeared to work when an article was published in July by the Washington Post about the incident, which made little of the affair, saying it was an incident of "questionable management oversight" in which foreign DynCorp workers "hired a teenage boy to perform a tribal dance at a company farewell party".

In fact, the episode was causing palpitations at the top of government, including in the presidential palace.

The cable records: "Atmar said that President Karzai had told him that his (Atmar's) 'prestige' was in play in management of the Kunduz DynCorp matter and another recent event in which Blackwater contractors mistakenly killed several Afghan citizens. The President had asked him 'Where is the justice?'"

According to a separate cable both incidents helped fuel Afghan government demands "to hold a tighter rein over [private security companies]" – a demand that also led Atmar to offer that the overstretched police should take over protection for military convoys in the south of Afghanistan.

Earlier this year Karzai issued a decree calling for the dissolution of all private security companies by the end of the year, an edict that has since been slightly watered down.

In a meeting between Atmar and the assistant ambassador Joseph Mussomeli, the US diplomat said he was deeply upset by the incident and that the embassy was considering Afghan demands that the US military should beginning overseeing the DynCrop operations.

Privately, however, they knew that such an arrangement was not "legally possible under the DynCorp contract".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/02/foreign-contractors-hired-dancing-boys

Linkback: http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/cablegate/7/foreign-contractors-hired-afghan-dancing-boys-wikileaks-cable-reveals/16454/

"The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organisation in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible." -1984

I am not "Emmanuel Goldstein" of the magazine 2600. My username is derived from 1984.

Offline EmmanuelGoldstein⌛

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Re: Foreign contractors hired Afghan 'dancing boys', WikiLeaks cable reveals
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 23:32:35 PM »
PBS Frontline on "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan":
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/dancingboys/view/

Documentary:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/dancingboys/

For more information on the practice of Bacha bazi:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacha_bazi
"The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organisation in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible." -1984

I am not "Emmanuel Goldstein" of the magazine 2600. My username is derived from 1984.

Offline EmmanuelGoldstein⌛

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Re: Foreign contractors hired Afghan 'dancing boys', WikiLeaks cable reveals
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 23:36:53 PM »
Wikipedia entry for the DynCorp Afghanistan incidents:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DynCorp#Afghanistan_incidents

Not the only known incidence of DynCorp and trafficking/sex slavery, there is also the Bosnian incident of the 90's, with Kathryn Bolkovac's blowing the whistle on it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DynCorp#1999_Bosnia_incident
"The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organisation in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible." -1984

I am not "Emmanuel Goldstein" of the magazine 2600. My username is derived from 1984.

Offline EmmanuelGoldstein⌛

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WikiLeaks Reveals That Military Contractors Have Not Lost Their Taste For Child Prostitutes

Jason Linkins, 12/08/10 12:09 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 | Huffington Post

Anything interesting to be had at the intersection of the WikiLeaks cache of diplomatic cables and those military contractors that cart off many millions of taxpayer dollars to facilitate their profit-seeking misadventures in the world's zones of forever war? Glad you asked! Here on these pages is the latest news of one of my favorite private military contractors, courtesy of David Isenberg:

    Now, courtesy of Wikileaks, DynCorp can look forward to a new round of ridicule and denunciations.

    As first reported by the British Guardian newspaper, on June 24, 2009 the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan sent a cable to Washington, under the signature of Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, regarding a meeting between Assistant Chief of Mission Joseph Mussomeli and Afghan Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar. Among the issues discussed was what diplomats delicately called the "Kunduz DynCorp Problem." Kunduz is a northern province of Afghanistan.

    The problem was this:

        1. In a May 2009 meeting interior minister Hanif Atmar expresses deep concerns that if lives could be in danger if news leaked that foreign police trainers working for US commercial contractor DynCorp hired "dancing boys" to perform for them.

"Dancing boys!" Just how concerned/disturbed should you be about this? As it turns out, very: these "dancing boys" are part of a very sick tradition called "Bacha Bazi." Isenberg links to an excellent "Frontline" documentary about the practice in his post, but if you're looking for something succinct, let's send you over to John Nova Lomax at the Houston Press:

    Bacha boys are eight- to 15-years-old. They put on make-up, tie bells to their feet and slip into scanty women's clothing, and then, to the whine of a harmonium and wailing vocals, they dance seductively to smoky roomfuls of leering older men.

    After the show is over, their services are auctioned off to the highest bidder, who will sometimes purchase a boy outright. And by services, we mean anal sex: The State Department has called bacha bazi a "widespread, culturally accepted form of male rape." (While it may be culturally accepted, it violates both Sharia law and Afghan civil code.)

Of course, the lawless antics of private military contractors are legion. But it should be noted that once again, we have DynCorp implicated in the practice of child prostitution. Let's flashback to 2002, once again:

    Ben Johnston recoiled in horror when he heard one of his fellow helicopter mechanics at a U.S. Army base near Tuzla, Bosnia, brag one day in early 2000: "My girl's not a day over 12."

    The man who uttered the statement -- a man in his 60s, by Johnston's estimate -- was not talking fondly about his granddaughter or daughter or another relative. He was bragging about the * he had purchased from a local brothel. Johnston, who'd gone to work as a civilian contractor mechanic for DynCorp Inc. after a six-year stint in the Army, had worked on helicopters for years, and he'd heard a lot of hangar talk. But never anything like this.

    More and more often in those months, the talk among his co-workers had turned to boasts about owning prostitutes -- how young they were, how good they were in bed, how much they cost. And it wasn't just boasting: Johnston often saw co-workers out on the streets of Dubrave, the closest town to the base, with the young female consorts that inspired their braggadocio. They'd bring them to company functions, and on one occasion, Johnston says, over to his house for dinner. Occasionally he'd see the young girls riding bikes and playing with other children, with their "owners" standing by, watching.

And still they keep winning contracts!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/wikileaks-reveals-that-mi_n_793816.html
"The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organisation in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible." -1984

I am not "Emmanuel Goldstein" of the magazine 2600. My username is derived from 1984.

Offline EmmanuelGoldstein⌛

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Re: Foreign contractors hired Afghan 'dancing boys', WikiLeaks cable reveals
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 00:13:20 AM »
Afghanistan sees rise in ‘dancing boys’ exploitation


The exploitation of Afghanistan’s ‘dancing boys’: A growing number of Afghan children are being coerced into a life of abuse as a result of the practice of wealthy or prominent Afghans exploiting underage boys as sexual partners.

Ernesto Londoño, Published: April 4, 2012 | Huffington Post


DEHRAZI, Afghanistan — The 9-year-old boy with pale skin and big, piercing eyes captivated Mirzahan at first sight.

“He is more handsome than anyone in the village,” the 22-year-old farmer said, explaining why he is grooming the boy as a sexual partner and companion. There was another important factor that made Waheed easy to take on as a bacha bazi, or a boy for pleasure: “He doesn’t have a father, so there is no one to stop this.”

A growing number of Afghan children are being coerced into a life of sexual abuse. The practice of wealthy or prominent Afghans exploiting underage boys as sexual partners who are often dressed up as women to dance at gatherings is on the rise in post-Taliban Afghanistan, according to Afghan human rights researchers, Western officials and men who participate in the abuse.

“Like it or not, there was better rule of law under the Taliban,” said Dee Brillenburg Wurth, a child-protection expert at the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, who has sought to persuade the government to address the problem. “They saw it as a sin, and they stopped a lot of it.”

Over the past decade, the phenomenon has flourished in Pashtun areas in the south, in several northern provinces and even in the capital, according to Afghans who engage in the practice or have studied it. Although issues such as women’s rights and moral crimes have attracted a flood of donor aid and activism in recent years, bacha bazi remains poorly understood.

The State Department has mentioned the practice — which is illegal here, as it would be in most countries — in its annual human rights reports. The 2010 report said members of Afghanistan’s security forces, who receive training and weapons from the U.S.-led coalition, sexually abused boys “in an environment of criminal impunity.”

But by and large, foreign powers in Afghanistan have refrained from drawing attention to the issue. There are no reliable statistics on the extent of the problem.

“It is very sensitive and taboo in Afghanistan,” said Hayatullah Jawad, head of the Afghan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Organization, who is based in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif. “There are a lot of people involved in this case, but no one wants to talk about it.”

An open secret

A recent interview with Mirzahan and a handful of his friends who sexually exploit boys provided a rare glimpse into the lives of men who have taken on bacha bazi.

The men agreed to be interviewed together in a mud hut in this tiny village in Balkh province, accessible only by narrow, unpaved roads and just a few miles from areas where the Taliban is fighting the government for dominance. The men insisted that only their first names be used. Although the practice of bacha bazi has become something of an open secret in Afghanistan, it is seldom discussed in public or with outsiders.

Sitting next to the 9-year-old Waheed, who was wearing a pink pants-and-tunic set called a shalwar kameez, Mirzahan said he opted to take on the boy because marrying a woman would have been prohibitively expensive. The two have not had sex, Mirzahan said, but that will happen in a few years. For now, Waheed is being introduced to slightly older “danc­ing boys.”

“He is not dancing yet, but he is willing,” Mirzahan said with pride.

Asked how he felt about becoming a dancing boy, Waheed responded shyly.

“I feel so happy,” the boy said. “They are so beautiful.”

Sitting nearby was 23-year-old Assadula, who said he’s an Afghan soldier assigned to a unit in the southern province of Kandahar. Assadula said he has been attracted to teenage males for as long as he can recall. Two years ago, he took on a 16-year-old as his bacha. The relationship will end soon, he said, sitting next to his companion, Jawad, who is now 18.

“When he starts growing a beard, his time will expire, and I will try to find another one who doesn’t have a beard,” Assadula said.

Many of the men who have bachas are also married. But Assadula said he has never been attracted to women.

“You cannot take wives everywhere with you,” he said, referring to the gender segregation in social settings that is traditional in Afghanistan. “You cannot take a wife with you to a party, but a boy you can take anywhere.”

Boys who become bachas are seen as property, said Jawad, the human rights researcher. Those who are perceived as being particularly beautiful can be sold for tens of thousands of dollars. The men who control them sometimes rent them out as dancers at male-only parties, and some are prostituted.

“This is abuse,” Jawad said. “Most of these children are not willing to do this. They do this for money. Their families are very poor.”

Although the practice is thought to be more widespread in conservative rural areas, it has become common in Kabul. Mohammed Fahim, a videographer who films the lavish weddings in the capital, estimated that one in every five weddings he attends in Kabul features dancing boys.

Authorities are well aware of the phenomenon, he said, as he played a video of a recent party that featured an underage boy with heavy makeup shaking his shoulders seductively as men sitting on the floor clapped and smiled.

“Police come because they like it a lot,” Fahim said, referring to parties with dancing boys.

When the boys age beyond their prime and get tossed aside, many become pimps or prostitutes, said Afghan photojournalist Barat Ali Batoor, who spent months chronicling the plight of dancing boys. Some turn to drugs or alcohol, he said.

“In Afghan society, if you are raped or you are abused, you will not have space in society to live proudly,” he said.

When Batoor completed his project on dancing boys, he assumed that nongovernmental organizations would be eager to exhibit his work and raise awareness of the issue. To his surprise, none were.

“They said: ‘We don’t want to make enemies in Afghanistan,’ ” he said, summarizing the general response.

A post-Taliban revival

Afghan men have exploited boys as sexual partners for generations, people who have studied the issue say. The practice became rampant during the 1980s, when mujaheddin commanders fighting Soviet forces became notorious for recruiting young boys while passing through villages. In Kandahar during the mid-1990s, the Taliban was born in part out of public anger that local commanders had married bachas and were engaging in other morally licentious behavior.

Afghanistan’s legal codes are based mainly on sharia, or Islamic law, which strictly prohibits sodomy. The law also bars sex before marriage. Under Afghan law, men must be at least 18 years old and women 16 to marry.

During the Taliban era, men suspected of having sex with men or boys were executed. In the late 1990s, amid the group’s repressive reign, the practice of bacha bazi went underground. The fall of the Taliban government in late 2001 and the flood of donor money that poured into Afghanistan revived the phenomenon.

Wurth, the U.N. official, who is leaving Kabul soon after three years of work on child-welfare issues in Afghanistan, said the lack of progress on combating the sexual exploitation of children is her biggest regret. Foreign powers have done little to conduct thorough research or advocate for policy reforms, she said.

“It’s rampant in certain areas,” Wurth said. “But more than that we can’t say. Nobody has facts and figures.”

Wurth said she was encouraged by recent discussions with Afghan government officials, who she said have begun to acknowledge the problem and have expressed concern about the rising popularity of the practice. The sexual exploitation of boys recruited to the Afghan police force was one of the reasons it was added in 2010 to a U.N. list of armed groups that recruit underage fighters, Wurth said.

But, so far, the government has taken few meaningful steps to discourage the abuse of bachas. Wurth said she was not aware of any prosecutions.

“A kid who is being sexually exploited, if he reports it, he will end up in prison,” she said. “They become pariahs.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afganistans-dancing-boys-are-invisible-victims/2012/04/04/gIQAyreSwS_story.html
"The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organisation in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible." -1984

I am not "Emmanuel Goldstein" of the magazine 2600. My username is derived from 1984.


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