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How Dare the US Promote Human Rights In Afghanistan?
CorpWatch is outraged that the US government is providing rural Afghanis with iPod-like audio players that deliver information "on topics including human rights, women's rights, Afghanistan's election process, and health."

To deliver the players, "employees of Voice for Humanity... traveled six hours on donkeys and horses through the remotest parts of the Afghanistan countryside." CorpWatch, which claims to support human rights, explains that "aid workers distributed 65,800 remote villages and some of the most dangerous and volatile areas in the country. ...Voice for Humanity, a non-profit humanitarian aid agency...says it has trained tribal chiefs and other community leaders to listen to the recorders and then pass them on to individuals and families."

The program takes special measures to be inclusive of women. "The color-coded idea for the players emerged when VHF learned that men had taken the devices from women and were using them for themselves. Then the Ministry of Women's Affairs suggested changing the color of some of the silver recorders to pink so that men would be too embarrassed to carry them around."

CorpWatch is unhappy with the audio distribution program. They quote one person as saying, "It shows how foolhardy people can be when they're not thinking practically." The groups also claims that "there are further questions about the propriety of the US government distributing ‘public service messages' about an election in which it openly backs one candidate over the others." CorpWatch also claims that "it would have been cheaper and more affective to provide these communities with radio transmitters."

Darkly, CorpWatch sees the promotion of human rights and democracy in Afghanistan as "just a small part of a massive information offensive coordinated by the Pentagon and USAID to burnish the United States' image in the Muslim world."

Perhaps CorpWatch is concerned that the audio players will be ineffective or that the messages could have been delivered more efficiently. Perhaps they are concerned that public perceptions of the US will be improved. Or maybe CorpWatch is most concerned that if the populations of developing countries learn about freedom, they will not become supporters of CorpWatch.
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