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The Anguish of Afghanistan

November 16, 1986

In flat, chilling narrative, a report that was released Tuesday by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has detailed the continuing Soviet assault on the Afghan people. The report, directed by an Austrian parliamentarian, Felix Ermacora, asserts that a "continuation of the military solution will lead to a situation approaching genocide."

Soviet troops and their Afghan lackeys have driven 5 million people, a third of the population, from the country and 2 million others from their homes. Perhaps 12,000 civilians perished last year. Infant mortality is grotesquely high, and there is no medical care for the majority of the people.

Yet the most unsettling fact is that these gruesome numbers are not so much inevitable concomitants of war as they are the results of a deliberate Soviet strategy:

"Largely typical of the atrocities are the bombing of villages, the disembowelment or kicking to death of villagers, and the use of explosives disguised as toys.

"The massacres of the civilian population, the use of anti-personnel mines, the looting, the methods of retaliation used and the disproportionately heavy bombardment of villages," the paper says, are part of the "systematic brutality (that) characterized the conflict in 1985."

Government and Soviet forces, the report adds, pursued "the deliberate and systematic . . . destruction of traditional irrigation systems, the felling of fruit trees, the prevention of recultivation of such areas" and the strafing of refugees fleeing to Pakistan. And the catalogue of horror drones on: handcuffed men thrown from helicopters, dogs used to attack and kill civilians, bombs disguised as "pens, cakes of soap and snuff boxes."

Despite barbarism, 115,000 Soviet troops and borders sealed off to muffle the cries of the dying, the Afghans stubbornly fight on. The U.N. commission concluded that the freedom fighters "command the support of the vast majority of the population."

Notwithstanding Reykjavik, a sagging economy and their recent withdrawal of 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, the Soviets relentlessly pound that poor country, hoping that the world will ignore it. By even the standards of genocide in this century, the Soviet Union's war on the Afghans is a monstrous crime.

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