Dear Ceasefire.ca supporters -
This is an urgent alert to inform you of new developments in Afghanistan, and to ask for your help to avert more innocent civilian casualties. Your action is required.
This could be our most important campaign since our founding in 2003. We are
asking our 20,000 supporters to support our media and lobbying campaign to stop the attack on Kandahar.
According to reports, a major military offensive is being planned involving 23,000 American, Canadian and Afghan troops on the city of Kandahar and the nearby countryside. Heavy casualties are expected, including civilians.
The attack may be launched in July. A CBC reporter said it will unleash “a summer of bloodshed” (CBC, 10 May 2010).
U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered his military to mass its troops and equipment at Kandahar Airfield, outside the city. Weaponry and 4,500 combat troops are in position. Another 18,000 are scheduled to arrive soon.
Canada’s troop level in the region stands at 2,850, the highest since 2001. The Canadian Forces are preparing to assist the U.S.-led attack on Kandahar.
Our country’s potential contribution to the attack on Kandahar includes a counter-insurgency battle group, main battle tanks, light armoured vehicles, transport and attack helicopters, unmanned aerial drones, missiles and howitzers.
U.S. Special Forces have advanced into the city to capture or assassinate suspected insurgent leaders. The Taliban has pledged reprisal attacks.
The death toll of civilians has already begun. Afghans are being gunned down by American and NATO convoys and at military checkpoints. Already this year 28 civilians have been killed and 43 wounded by Western forces in “escalation-of-force” incidents (NY Times, 8 May 2010).
In response to the imminent attack on Kandahar, a local hospital has set up 100 more beds to treat anticipated civilian casualties. The United Nations has withdrawn its foreign employees from the city for their safety.
The UN reports: “Overall, the intensification of the armed conflict in the south, and its expansion into areas previously considered stable, made 2009 the worst year for civilian fatalities since the fall of he Taliban regime in 2001.”
Alarmingly, 2,412 civilians were killed last year by both sides, two-thirds by insurgents (Report of UN Secretary General, 10 Mar 2010).
Fearful for their lives, 94% of Afghans surveyed for the U.S. army said they do not want foreign forces to launch an attack. Most Afghans surveyed sympathized with insurgents and their cause (Guardian, 9 May 2010).
Years of war and corruption have turned many Afghans against the government and its Western backers, such as Canada.
The Afghan government, led by disgraced President Hamid Karzai, will be unable to provide for the refugees and people driven from the fighting. For example, a smaller military offensive last year displaced 40,000 Afghans. Local elders have urged the president to cancel the attack by Western forces.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 to run the ad below in the influential Hill Times newspaper in Ottawa, to inform journalists, to urge the Canadian government to not join the attack, and to urge the U.S. and NATO to stop the operation.
Make your donation. Go to: https://www.ceasefire.ca/donate/donate.php
If we are successful, we will reduce or completely prevent Canadian military involvement in the offensive. Even more, we could save the lives of many Afghan civilians, and bring our troops home as soon as possible.
If we are not successful, many more people will die, including our troops and civilians.
I hope that you will make an emergency contribution to stop the attack on Kandahar.
Thank you for responding as soon as possible.
Steven Staples, Ceasefire.ca
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