Letter to Good-Willed People

This letter is addressed to the members of the Nobel Committee and to all the human beings for whom democracy, human rights, and universal brotherhood are not empty words.

2001 will remain engraved in our memories as a turning point in the history of the 21th century: a year when a group of extremists endeavoured to trigger off a worldwide cataclysm Ė "the conflict between civilizations" that some theoreticians had feared.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2002,which will be awarded for events taking place in 2001, will inevitably have to take into account those events, which cannot be considered as an epiphenomenon. It will have to consecrate the actions of men and women who, thanks to their courage, have contributed the most to maintain peace and human rights in this dreadful year.

Among the many candidacies which were submitted to the Nobel Committee on February 1, 2002, there is that of Mr. Ahmad Shah Massoud, which we have supported, with the help of intellectuals, politicians, and citizens from all over the world.

Indeed, this man fought all his life to preserve his peopleís freedom and to maintain all their natural rights.

Despite his gifts as a strategist and as a resistant, Mr. Ahmad Shah Massoud cannot be considered as just a fighter. He was first and foremost a man of peace, who was concerned about human rights in his country, and who always called for a political solution for Afghanistan, for democratic elections transcending religious and ethnic differences. This stance was aimed at preserving stability in his country, but also in the region and in the world at large, which were confronted with the proliferation of terrorism and of drug production and trafficking, which he wanted to eradicate. He never ceased to warn the international community against their harmful effects before becoming their victim himself.

His action in favor of peace and of the preservation of liberty was especially noticeable in the areas under his control in Afghanistan (most particularly in the Panjshir Valley), primarily through the maintaining of schools for boys and girls, and the signing of the Dushanbe Declaration on Afghan womenís basic rights on July 2, 2000.

However, solving problems in Afghanistan required acting on a greater scale. He was acutely aware of those problems and knew their roots extended beyond Afghanistan. Working abroad became necessary: hence he played a role in Tajikistan, where his influence over Muslim nationalist movements resulted in a peace accord between the latter and governmental forces in 1997.

Ahmad Shah Massoud also expressly and consistently called for international help.

In a letter dated October 8,1998, he addressed the Senate of the United States of America in these terms: "...the war must cease, fair peace and a transitional administration aiming at setting up a representative government must be established. This is the noble aim we wish to attain. We consider it is our duty to defend humanity against the scourges of intolerance, violence, and fanaticism."

In May 2000, he answered the questions of representatives of the French National Assembly and of the European Parliament in an interview filmed by Interscoop:" the only solution for Afghanistan is democracy through elections. Each individual must have one vote. When we are in Kabul, we will hold elections under the control of international organizations [...] women will have the right to vote, they will be eligible, and they will be allowed to work and study [...] each ethnic group must be represented proportionally to its size."

Following Mollah Omarís declarations on the destruction of the Buddhas in Bamyan, he made the following statement on RFI (Radio France International) on March7, 2001: "...an act I most firmly condemn. This is not the first time the Taliban have acted thus: they have trampled on human rights, especially on womenís rights, they have encouraged the production and trafficking of drugs, and they have supported and sheltered international terrorists..."

He wished the international community to exert more pressure on the Taliban regime, to help him make peace in his country and fight terrorist and extremist exactions that he alone could not prevent because of the presence and implications of foreign powers. He warned that, without this support, "the world will witness even more barbarous acts."

He reiterated these demands when he came to Europe in April 2001.

Today, it can be asserted without the slightest shadow of a doubt that if Commander Massoud had received the help he had demanded for so many years, thousands of Afghan people, especially women, would not have had to endure the tyrannical and liberticidal regime of the Taliban, and they would not have had to suffer their corporal punishments and humiliating treatments. Similarly, Osama bin Ladenís militias would not have disseminated all over the world, the tragic events of New York and Washington would have been averted, and thousands of American lives would have been spared.

Coming to this, it is impossible not to link those dreadful events to the cowardly assassination of Mr. Massoud only two days before. Only God knows what Islamic militias would have done all over the world, if he had not been this "wall" that the fanatics feared so much that they thought it necessary to assassinate him before extending their wrongdoing to the whole world.

This learned man, who had a deep interest in poetry and philosophy, who in his youth had been exposed to Western culture, and who also was a very pious man, could have been a major link between Islam and the Western world and their respective cultures, since he represented, like many other people, the real face of Islam: an open, tolerant religion. We would like to quote here what he said to photographer Reza Deghati: "... I can see all the children of Abraham live together in peace on earth." Unlike the fanatics, he thus reminded people that the three great monotheistic faiths are descended from Abraham, that they are rooted in the same Book, and that all sensible people must bear this close kinship in mind so as to avoid all fratricidal wars.

His premature death, caused by those who hit the Western world two days later, has deprived him of the most noble task his courage and self-denial entitled him to: the reconstruction of his country. With his culture, intelligence, and humanism, he could have established a new model of democracy previously unknown in Afghanistan, respectful of human rights and representative of all Afghans. He did not have the time to achieve his modern vision of Afghanistan. However, those who believed in him and in his project are now trying to carry on with his work.

His work was about the preservation of world peace, and of human rights, while at the same time it transformed his country.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize would constitute a posthumous recognition of his action, and would also serve as an example for the generations to come, in order for our children not to commit the same mistakes we made of remaining blind and deaf to the fight of one man.

We would like the posthumous character of this recognition not to be an obstacle. It is true that it is extremely important and wise to abide by Mr. Nobelís will, as well as by the statutes of his foundation as they have been modified over the years. However, if there is in the statutes a provision allowing to take such an exceptional decision, we think it would be appropriate to apply it.

In the past, other people, although perhaps in a different set of circumstances, have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously. We have in mind Mr. Dag Hammerskjöld. If Mr. Ahmad Shah Massoud deserves this distinction, we believe that it would be deeply unfair to deprive him of it just because of a blind act of the terrorism he fought against.

We also believe that it would be an opportunity for the Nobel Committee to emphasize the importance of this year by including in its decisions an exceptional procedure related to it.

Finally, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Ahmad Shah Massoud would be beneficial for the immediate future of Afghanistan and of the whole world.

On the one hand, 2002 will be the year of reconstruction in Afghanistan. Awarding the Nobel Prize to a person who embodied the project and the hope of this country would also be a strong sign coming from the Western world towards the Afghan people, thus facilitating financial support, but also, and above all, moral support.

On the other hand, the world today is in a difficult plight: it is confronted with an imbroglio of religious and political conflicts whose end is uncertain. Awarding the Nobel Prize to Mr. Ahmad Shah Massoud, a Muslim, would also be a way of appeasing tensions, and of narrowing the gap between the Western world and Islam, by showing the real face of the latter.

The supporting committee for the Nobel Peace Prize to Ahmad Shah Massoud