Taliban Murders Sushmita Banerjee, Author and Women’s Rights Advocate

article-2412697-1BA46672000005DC-81_306x423In a culture of the oppression and abuse of women, Sushmita Banerjee stood out. An Indian married to an Afghan businessman, Banerjee wrote of the rule of the Taliban and her effort to flee the medieval Islamic rules placed on women. Her book “A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife” was an inspiration for women facing religious oppression and was later made into the movie “Escape From The Taliban.” The title proved tragically optimistic. This week, after she returned to her husband in Afghanistan, Banerjee was executed at her home by the Taliban.

Banerjee went to Afghanistan in 1989 after meeting Jaanbaz Khan in Calcutta and marrying him. In 1993, the Taliban came into power and moved to close a dispensary she was running from her house. She was declared “a woman of poor morals.” In 1994, she fled but her Afghan brothers-in-law tracked her down in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and took her back to Afghanistan. She was kept under house arrest by the Taliban. She was able to briefly escape through a tunnel that she dug in the house. However, outside of Kabul, she was arrested and interrogated by the Taliban. They threatened to kill her for fleeing her husband, but due to her Indian citizenship, she was taken to the Indian embassy. Her husband joined her in India. Her book became a best seller in India.

Recently, Banerjee returned to Afghanistan to work as a health worker and was filming the lives of local women. The Taliban came to her house, tied up her husband and his family, and took her outside and shot her. Her body was dumped near a religious school. She was 49.

The Taliban correctly saw Banerjee as a threat because she defied them and their sexist, repressive beliefs. She was a towering symbol of courage not only for women but for all of us. She will be missed but left a wonderful testament to the struggle for freedom that will continue to inspire women around the world.

Source: BBC

20 thoughts on “Taliban Murders Sushmita Banerjee, Author and Women’s Rights Advocate”

  1. “….the only effective way to respond in such situations is to use counter terrorism. …..That means that when such a terrorist attack happens, the government needs to take known prisoners who are Taliban, and execute them.”

    The study of approaches to counter insurgency is pretty deep by now by now. I would argue that what the US considers the best thinking on war against terrorists and insurgents is contained in ‘Counterinsurgency fm3-24’ the well know manual largely credited to General Patraeus.

    I am pretty sure that manual does not suggest executions of fighters, their family members or associates as a tactic.

    An example of where a policy of execution was not successful would be German execution of partisan fighters and their associates during WWII.

    An example of one of the very few successful campaigns against insurgents would be British efforts in Malaya. While executions may have occurred, I am pretty sure there was no policy or widespread fact of executions.

    If there is an historical example of where execution of fighters or close associates seemed to aid a counter insurgency campaign I would like to hear of it.

    1. The best known use of counterterrorist actions are the Bolsheviks in the same area against Islamic fanatics. The GPU was very ruthless when the women teachers the Soviets sent to teach Muslim women were murdered in the Muslim areas of the young Soviet Union. They were successful.

      The comparison of the Nazi reprisals against the Resistance in the occupied countries is not a valid one since we are talking about a foreign invasion and control of a country by a foreign power. This is a far different situation where you have domestic enemies and terrorists. The object of the Resistance was not to terrorize German troops, but to kill them. I am unaware of the Nazis conducting mass reprisals against the Resistance for killing collaborators and informers which were designed for terrorist reasons.

      The Malaysia situation was successful mainly because it was an ethnically based insurgency with the Chinese being the main force against the Brits, while most Malays stayed on the sidelines. In Vietnam, the NLF was a mass based group with long time ties to the mass of the people, especially in the south when they voted overwhelming for revolutionary communists in 1939 in the southern part of Vietnam. The French did not like the results of that election and kicked them out and put their leaders in prison. As Eisenhower admitted at the time, if free elections had been allowed in 1956 under international supervision in all of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh would have won with close to 80% of the vote. Which of course, is why the US did not sign the Geneva Accords which called for that to happen. He only liked “free” elections when he knew ‘his” side would win. I am unaware that the Taliban has anything close to that kind of support. Bron told that he knows an Afghan who states that at most 10% of them support the Taliban, and from what I saw when the Taliban was overthrown, the great mass of people were celebrating their fall. indeed, the Pakistan partisans who had recruited fighters for the Taliban, shut up and got the hell out of there when they saw the sentiments of the Afghans. So I think that we have a good base for tough anti-terrorist measure that I suggested. Now whether or not the US has the will to use such measures is another question, but I think such action while tossing out standard law enforcement measures is the only way to win. I know that this will be very unpopular on a legal blog,but unfortunately until one has established a peaceful and relatively functioning legal system, sticking to the means WE use in the US now is a formula for defeat.

  2. OS:

    I recently had an Afghan client who said that only about 10% of the people are fighting us. He said over 60% were fighting the Soviets. He was saying many/most Afghanis support what the US is trying to do.

    He could have been blowing smoke but who knows.

  3. The point of such murderers is to terrorize the broader population which is not part of the Taliban. Unfortunately, the only effective way to respond in such situations is to use counter terrorism. When such terrorist acts result in a similar or worse loss to the Taliban, they will see that such acts are counterproductive and lead to losses that they cannot sustain. The ultimate result will be either their extinction, or a modification of their methods and goals.

    That means that when such a terrorist attack happens, the government needs to take known prisoners who are Taliban, and execute them. Lincoln and the Union were faced with a similar situation during the Civil War with black union POWs. They in some instances took Confederate POWs and executed them in return. So we have precedent in our own history, and fortunately, such measures were not used much since the Confederates changed their policy. If we cannot get the actual terrorists, their families need to be the target with executions of their brothers, fathers, etc if they are not actively with the government. If it is not known who did it, then randomly selected Taliban fighters need to be executed at a ratio of two to one. I am not advocating such measures for the deaths of legitimate combatants, but for non-combatant murders. In rural areas that are under Taliban control, then the mosques and mullahs need to be razed and the leaders killed.

  4. OMG, Otteray Scribe! Assuming that this data is for real, it tells a dismal story indeed. I wonder what an update to September 2013 would show us. Would anybody like to make a case that we have accomplished anything of lasting value in Afghanistan? I’m all ears.

  5. OS,
    Empires go to die there and so do women. So sad.
    The IED’s became the weapon of choice for the Taliban because the found out that facing the Marines and Army and our partners was not healthy for them. When my son was there in 2010-2011 they spent a lot of time dealing with IED’s and the threat from them.

  6. IED attacks listed in the data dump from Wikileaks “War Logs.” Reporters overlaid on a NATO map of the area. The original map was done by The Guardian. The person who posted this map re-rendered the same data in HD.

    The green explosions are ones in which no one was hurt, yellow ones are injuries only, and red ones are fatal IEDs. On the death and injury tallies, the left column is friendlies. Both allied forces and civilians are listed in the ‘friendlies’ count. The right column is the ‘enemy’ list. Notice as time goes by, how much coalition efforts decreased the IED count (insert deliberate snark and irony here).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCK8oSFFpgc

    This is why the warlords are afraid of Wikileaks and want to see Julian Assange do hard time, for a long time.

  7. Equality and Education of women scares to death authoritarian male pigs.
    It is easier for the taliban to kill women than to admit their equal humanness. Men wrote the bible, men control religion, some men eagerly choose to believe they are more equal, same as the pigs in animal farm. The same as the 0.1% in the banking & finance industry that are raping the 99% and the world resources.

  8. RWL,
    Yes. They are going to have to take care of the problem themselves. It may not happen anytime soon, and maybe not even in this century. That is some of the most rugged and inhospitable terrain imaginable. The three most powerful empires on the planet have tried to tame Afghanistan without success. There is no way for outsiders to come in there and try to mold their culture. The best thing the rest of the world can do is impose some kind of quarantine on the place.

    What history has shown in the cases of Afghanistan and other rogue regimes, is that outside intervention only hardens resolve of the most militant, and turns ordinary folk into militants.

    It not just in Afghanistan that women, dissidents and the vulnerable are mistreated and even brutalized. Look at the examples of several countries in the middle east, Africa, and North Korea.

  9. The US is now negotiating with the Taliban. We need to recognize that there are just some cultures/ movements/ belief systems with which or with whom you cannot reasonably deal. This goes for some of our wonderful allies in the ME.

  10. Not to be insensitive, but why did she return to Afghanistan, knowing that death was waiting for her? Or is her death similar to Dr. MLK, jr (i.e. he was threaten 24/7 when he went to march against racial injustice in parts of the ‘deep south’, but he continued to march, and eventually murdered?) Or is there more to the story than what is posted here?

    OS,

    Really? Do you think Afghanistan is going to rid itself of the Taliban, without UN or US involvement? Or does the UN or US even care how women are mistreated around the world?

  11. If only we could believe our huge and precious investment there would give the population a fighting chance against the Taliban. I fear it did not and only served to enrich Karzai, Karzai types, and US corporations.

  12. The tragedy that is Afghanistan continues to unfold. She was not the first and certainly won’t be the last woman killed by the Taliban. From The Times of India newspaper web page, which is covering the story in depth:

    Last month, a female Afghan MP was abducted by suspected Taliban militants while she was travelling with her children. Another woman MP recently sought asylum in Britain after being abandoned by her relatives for seeking divorce from an abusive husband. In July, gunmen assassinated a high profile female police officer. These instances have occurred in the backdrop of orthodox Muslim groups renewing their call against women stepping out of their homes to work or seek independent careers.

    Ours was an ill-advised adventure in Afghanistan, as was that of the old Soviet Union. Before that, it was England. As has been written of Afghanistan repeatedly, it is where empires go to die. The only way to deal with the Taliban is to isolate them as much as possible, so they cannot spread their poison to the rest of the world. The sane people of Afghanistan will eventually have enough, and take care of the Taliban problem their own way.

    The Times of India
    story: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-author-Sushmita-Banerjee-killed-in-Afghanistan-by-Taliban/articleshow/22349517.cms?

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