Saur Revolution

Saur Revolution

Overview
The Saur Revolution (also written Sawr Revolution) is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 (PDPA) takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e. Taurus, refers to the Dari
Dari (Eastern Persian)
Dari or Fārsī-ye Darī in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids. In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources. It is the term officially recognized...

 name of the second month of the Persian calendar, the month in which the uprising took place.

Under the secular government of Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

, factionalism and rivalry developed in the ruling PDPA, with two main factions developing, Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

 and Khalqi.
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Quotations

I am fifty-two years of age. I am a bishop in the Anglican Church, and a few people might be constrained to say that I was reasonably responsible. In the land of my birth I cannot vote, whereas a young person of eighteen can vote. And why? Because he or she possesses that wonderful biological attribute — a white skin.

Guardian Weekly [London] (8 April 1984)

Be nice to the whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.

As quoted in New York Times|New York Times (19 October 1984)

I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum.

As quoted in The Christian Science Monitor|The Christian Science Monitor (20 December 1984)

For goodness sake, will they hear, will white people hear what we are trying to say? Please, all we are asking you to do is to recognize that we are humans, too.

As quoted in The New York Times (3 January 1985)

When a pile of cups is tottering on the edge of the table and you warn that they will crash to the ground, in South Africa you are blamed when that happens.

As quoted in The New York Times (3 January 1985)

I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.

Today (NBC program)|Today, NBC TV (9 January 1985)

Those who invest in South Africa should not think they are doing us a favor; they are here for what they get out of our cheap and abundant labor, and they should know that they are buttressing one of the most vicious systems.

Quoted by L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley (politician)|Tom Bradley in letter to the editor Los Angeles Times (13 May 1985)

A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.

Address at his enthronement as Anglican archbishop of Cape Town (7 September 1986)

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.

Address at his enthronement as Anglican archbishop of Cape Town (7 September 1986)

God has such a deep reverence for our freedom that he'd rather let us freely go to Hell than be compelled to go to Heaven.

Beyers Naudé memorial lecture (15 August 2003)
Encyclopedia
The Saur Revolution (also written Sawr Revolution) is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 (PDPA) takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e. Taurus, refers to the Dari
Dari (Eastern Persian)
Dari or Fārsī-ye Darī in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids. In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources. It is the term officially recognized...

 name of the second month of the Persian calendar, the month in which the uprising took place.

Background


Under the secular government of Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

, factionalism and rivalry developed in the ruling PDPA, with two main factions developing, Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

 and Khalqi. In 1978 a prominent member of the Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

, Mir Akbar Khyber
Mir Akbar Khyber
Mir Akbar Khyber was an Afghan intellectual and a leader of the Parcham faction of the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan...

, was killed. Although the government issued a statement deploring the assassination, Nur Mohammad Taraki of the PDPA charged that the government itself was responsible, a belief that was shared by much of the Kabul intelligentsia. PDPA leaders apparently feared that Daoud
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

 was planning to exterminate them all.

During the funeral ceremonies for Khyber a protest against the government occurred and shortly thereafter most of the leaders of PDPA, including Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

, were arrested by the government. Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

, however, was put under house arrest. This gave him a chance to order an uprising, one that had been slowly coalescing for more than two years. Amin, without having the authority, instructed the Khalqi army officers to overthrow the government.

The Coup d'Etat


The government of President Mohammad Daoud Khan came to a violent end in the early morning hours of April 28, 1978, when military units loyal to the Khalq faction of the PDPA stormed the palace in the heart of Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

. The coup was strategically planned to begin Thursday, April 27, because it was the day before Friday, the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 day of worship, and most military commanders and government workers were off duty. With the help of a few airplanes of Afghanistan's military air force which were mainly Soviet made MiG-21
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek by Polish pilots due to...

 and SU-7
Sukhoi Su-7
The Sukhoi Su-7 was a swept wing, supersonic fighter aircraft developed by the Soviet Union in 1955. Originally, it was designed as tactical, low-level dogfighter, but was not successful in this role. On the other hand, soon-introduced Su-7B series became the main Soviet fighter-bomber and...

s, the insurgent troops overcame the resistance of the Presidential Guard and killed Daoud and most members of his family.

According to an eyewitness, the first signs of the impending coup in Kabul, about noon on April 27, were reports of a tank column headed toward the city, smoke of unknown origin near the Ministry of Defense, and armed men, some in military uniform and others not, guarding Pashtunistan Circle, a major intersection. The first shots heard were near the Ministry of Interior in the New City (Shari Nau) section of Kabul where a company of policemen apparently confronted an advancing tank column. From there the fighting spread to other areas of the city. Later, that afternoon, the first fighter planes, SU-7s, came in low and firing rockets at the national palace in the center of the city. In early evening came an announcement on government-owned Radio Afghanistan that the "khalq" (people) were overthrowing the Daoud regime. The use of the word "khalq," and its traditional association with the Communists in Afghanistan, made clear that the PDPA was leading the coup -- and also that the rebels had captured the radio station.

The aerial attacks on the palace intensified about midnight as six SU-7s made repeated rocket attacks, lighting up the city. The next morning, April 28, the city was mostly quiet, although the sound of gunfire could still be heard on the southern side of the city. As the people of Kabul ventured out of their homes they realized that the rebels were in complete control of the city and learned that President Daoud and his brother Naim had been killed early that morning. A group of soldiers had surrounded the heavily-damaged palace and demanded their surrender. Instead, Daoud and Naim, pistols in hand, charged at the soldiers, and were killed in a hail of bullets.


Communist Rule


The PDPA, divided between the Khalq and Parcham, succeeded the Daoud regime with a new government under the leadership of Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki was an Afghan politician and statesman during the Cold War. Taraki was born near Kabul and educated at Kabul University, after which he started his political career as a journalist...

 of the Khalq faction. In Kabul, the initial cabinet appeared to be carefully constructed to alternate ranking positions between Khalqis and Parchamis. Taraki (Khalqi) was Prime Minister, Karmal (Parchami) was senior Deputy Prime Minister, and Hafizullah Amin (Khalqi) was foreign minister. The unity, however, between Khalq and Parcham lasted only briefly. Taraki and Amin in early July relieved most of the Parchamis from their government positions. Karmal was sent abroad as Ambassador to Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. In August 1978, Taraki and Amin uncovered a "plot" and executed or imprisoned several cabinet members, including the military hero of the Saur Revolution, General Abdul Qadir Dagarwal
Abdul Qadir Dagarwal
Abdul Qadir Dagarwal , a colonel, was the leader of the Afghan Air Force squadrons that attacked the Radio-TV Station during the 1978 Coup that started the Saur Revolution....

. In September 1979, it was Taraki's turn to become a victim of the Revolution. Amin overthrew and executed him.

Once in power, the PDPA implemented a socialist agenda. It moved to promote state atheism
State atheism
State atheism is the official "promotion of atheism" by a government, sometimes combined with active suppression of religious freedom and practice...

 and suppress the Islamic faith and carried out an ill-conceived land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

, which was resented by virtually all Afghans. It changed the national flag from traditional Islamic green color to a near-copy of the red flag of the Soviet Union, a provocative affront to the people of this conservative Islamic country. The PDPA also imprisoned, tortured or murdered thousands of members of the traditional elite, the religious establishment, and the intelligentsia. It prohibited usury
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

, without having in place any alternative for peasants who relied on the traditional, if exploitative, credit system in the countryside. That led to an agricultural crisis and a fall in agricultural production.; The PDPA made a number of statements on women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

, declaring equality of the sexes and introduced women to political life. A prominent example was Anahita Ratebzad
Anahita Ratebzad
Anahita Ratebzad is a female Afghan Marxist and former member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan and the Revolutionary Council....

, who was a major Marxist leader and a member of the Revolutionary Council. Ratebzad wrote the famous May 28, 1978 New Kabul Times editorial, which declared: "Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country ... Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention."

The dependence upon and adherence to the Soviet Union by the PDPA government soon became apparent to the world. The American Embassy in Kabul cabled Washington announcing ”what the British first, and later the Americans, tried to prevent for a hundred years has happened: the Russian Bear has moved south of the Hindu Kush.”

Opposition to the PDPA


Afghan opposition to the PDPA government became particularly pronounced after the Soviet Union invaded and occupied
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 the country in late December 1979. The Soviets feared that the PDPA government was in danger of being toppled by opposition mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 forces and resented the independence shown by President Hafizullah Amin. Amin was killed or executed by the Soviets, reportedly on December 28, 1979.

As the internal chaos and opposition by the Afghan people to the PDPA government increased, the U.S. saw the situation as a prime opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union, and the move essentially signaled the end of the détente
Détente
Détente is the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. The term is often used in reference to the general easing of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1970s, a thawing at a period roughly in the middle of the Cold War...

 era initiated by former President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

. In 1978 the United States began training insurgents and directing propaganda broadcasts into Afghanistan from Pakistan. Then, in early 1979, U.S. foreign service officers began meeting insurgent leaders to determine their needs. According to the then National Security Advisor
National Security Advisor (United States)
The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor , serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues...

 Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981....

, CIA aid to the insurgents within Afghanistan was approved in July 1979, six months before the Soviet Invasion. Brzezinski said that aid to the insurgents, begun under the Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 administration with the intention of provoking Soviet intervention, was significantly boosted under the Reagan administration
Reagan Administration
The United States presidency of Ronald Reagan, also known as the Reagan administration, was a Republican administration headed by Ronald Reagan from January 20, 1981, to January 20, 1989....

, which was committed to actively rolling back Soviet influence in the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

.

External links