Back to Kabul
U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan following Sept.
11, 2001, purportedly sought to assist the country on the
road to development, the nation remains one of the world’s
poorest. And while Afghanistan seems all but a fading blip
on the ever-busier radar screen of U.S. overseas adventures,
one local woman is planning a return trip to the war-torn
country to make good on a promise made by her nation’s leaders.
Connie Frisbee Houde, an Albany resident, made her first trip
to Kabul in February with Global Exchange, an international
human-rights organization, to document with her camera the
effect of U.S. bombing on the lives of Afghan people. Houde
returned with a collection of photographs that captured the
country’s barren landscapes, the wreckage of war and the faces
of the people in the streets of Kabul.
you see the people that you are naming as enemy, and you get
to know them, you won’t see them as enemy,” Houde said. “As
a photographer I was able to bring that back to people.”
Houde has been showing her photos at a number of venues across
the Capital Region—in high schools, galleries and senior centers—and
she published a photo essay in Metroland [“In the Aftermath
of War,” March 6].
The trip was funded mostly by donations, some of which Houde
contributed to a fund to refurbish a middle school for girls
that had been closed by the Taliban. The money was used to
purchase 600 new desks for students and 17 desks for faculty,
and to build four bathrooms, among other renovations.
Houde is hoping to make a return trip to Afghanistan in October
with the National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation,
which supports three major eye hospitals in Afghanistan. Houde
said she wants to document the group’s outreach effort to
provide assistance and self-care education to some of the
country’s more rural areas.
many of these rural areas, the people don’t have vehicles
or even the roads to travel to Kabul for the necessary care,”
Houde said. “In some of these places, they’ll have to hike
this stuff into where the people are.”
Houde said she especially likes NOOR’s tack for helping the
Afghan people as they look to do more than just apply a band-aid.
not just going in and looking to work on people’s eyes and
fix things,” Houde said. “They’re talking about prevention
and care. They’re looking at the bigger picture.”
Houde is currently looking to raise funds for the trip and
is looking to show the work from her previous trip to interested
audiences for donations. Houde will be featured on WMHT’s
InSight on July 24 at 7:30 PM. Her photographs will
be on display at the Bethlehem Community Church in Delmar
on July 29 at 7 PM, and representatives from NOOR will discuss
the nature of October’s trip.
of the so-called “787 27” were in Police Court in Albany on
July 17 to face charges stemming from their March arrests
for blocking traffic with their bodies by laying across the
787 exit at Broadway in protest of U.S. military intervention
On March 20, the day after U.S. forces initiated conflict
in Iraq, hundreds of Capital Region citizens gathered to protest
in Albany. Later that day, 27 demonstrators formed a human
chain by laying their bodies across the 787 exit ramp. When
police arrived, some of the protestors “went limp” and had
to be dragged to police vehicles for arrest. Traffic was hung
up for roughly an hour.
Though most were ticketed for disorderly conduct, a mere violation,
seven of the demonstrators were charged with obstructing governmental
administration, a misdemeanor carrying a possible jail sentence.
Judges overseeing the cases have since reduced the penalties
for all 27 defendants and offered plea bargains, but a majority
of the protesters are not accepting the deals. Attorneys for
the defendants claim that the more severe charges were handed
out randomly and that each defendant deserves equal punishment.
of the individuals did anything that caused any more obstruction
of traffic than anyone else,” said Mark Mishler, an attorney
for the defendants. “Everybody laid down in the street and
they were given the same warning. Frankly I don’t know if
there is anything that should make their cases any different.”
Further, Mishler said recent court decisions stemming form
civil- disobedience arrests in Albany have set a precedent
for how these cases should be handled. Of the 37 demonstrators
arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in Albany from
February to June 2000, all were given the reduced penalties,
But Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne has another
take on the matter.
the judge dismisses the misdemeanor charges wrongly and now
the argument is, ‘Well, we have the disorderly conduct charges
now too. We should get ACODs,’” said Clyne. “Our position
is: Sorry, that’s not so. It doesn’t change what you did.
The fact that the judge dismissed the case, we believe wrongly,
doesn’t change the fact that their conduct is still the same.
If they want to go to trial, we’ll go to trial.”
Those facing the reduced charge of disorderly conduct face
a possible fine and community service if they accept. Mishler
said several legal steps could draw out the process for a
few months, and the defendants wouldn’t see their day in court
until September or October.
Albany’s Dominic Romani, 24, was one of the seven charged
with a misdemeanor. He is not accepting the plea and looks
forward to taking the matter to court. Romani expressed gratitude
to those who decided to take a stand on the issue.
am absolutely thrilled that others are holding out,” Romani
said. “Solidarity is vital to the movement—not [just] the
peace movement, [but] the anti-fascist movement in all its
forms—and this proves that our friends are strongly committed
to each other. This type of thing only makes us stronger.”