In Afghanistan, the capital Kabul has rapidly been building up a reputation as a new haven for dope-seekers.
In Afghanistan, the capital Kabul has rapidly been building up a reputation as a new haven for dope-seekers. It's a reputation the Afghanistan authorities want to discourage. But despite several drug raids and prosecutions this year, young people keep pouring into Kabul to take advantage of illegal--but easily obtained--hashish supplies.
Visnews cameraman Sepp Riff hit the hippy trail to Kabul last weekend to film this report. Despite stories of disease and malnutrition, most of the hippies in this coverage were healthy, serene and stoned out of their minds. Joints of hash were being openly passed around. An appropriate musical accompaniment has been dubbed on throughout.
The Kabul hippies don't call themselves hippies any more. They prefer the term "Freaks". There are estimated to be about five, thousand of them in Kabul at any one time. The majority seem to be French and German, though Americans, Canadians and Australians are also well represented along with other European countries.
SYNOPSIS: In Afghanistan, the capital Kabul has rapidly been building up a reputation as a new haven for drug seekers. The hippies who come here nowadays call themselves "freaks". But though the name has changed, the habits are familiar. The average freak is around 20, short on money, long on wanderlust and high on dope. They mostly stay in small hotels where bed and food costs half-a-dollar a day.
At any one time, there are about five-thousand freaks in Kabul. They aren't encouraged to stay long. Most come on two-to-three-week transit visas. But between them, they represent most western countries. Germans and French predominate, but there are also Americans, Canadians and Australians.
Hash isn't legal. But it's difficult to control production and distribution, and it's smoked freely. The Afghan authorities have been stepping up their efforts to discourage the hash-haven image of Kabul. Drugs raids are becoming common. So are court cases, with the number of prosecutions so far this year climbing to around the hundred mark. Most offenders are fined and ordered out of the country--it's felt that Afghan jails are not suitable for them.
Reports of disease, malnutrition and depravity amongst the young people in Kabul seem to have been grossly exaggerated. Only last month, a British schoolmaster returned with stories of youngsters begging like dogs in the street. But the increasing drug problem is a continuing worry to the Afghan authorities as more and more youngsters take that golden hippy road to the east.