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Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Loya jirga continues with Malalai Joya - mujahedin uproar (Afghan TV, AP, AFP, NYT, IWPR, Amnesty)
Note: within a week of this incident the woman delegate who started the uproar, Malalai Joya, had her own website on geocities as well as a RAWA campaign on her behalf - I've put a link to the former below.
Text of Remarks by Malalai Joya, Sayyaf, and Mojadidi Processed by Samir Popalzai December 17, 2003 Loya Jirga Meeting Kabul, Afghanistan My name is Malali Joya from Farah Province. By the permission of the esteemed attendees, and by the name of God and the colored-shroud martyrs, I would like to speak for couple of minutes. My criticism on all my compatriots is that why are they allowing the legitimacy and legality of this Loya Jerga come under question with the presence of those felons who brought our country to this state. I feel pity and I feel very sorry that those who call Loya Jerga an infidel basis equivalent to blasphemy after coming here their words are accepted, or please see the committees and what people are whispering about. The chairman of every committee is already selected. Why do you not take all these criminals to one committee so that we see what they want for this nation. These were those who turned our country into the nucleus of national and international wars. They were the most anti-women people in the society who wanted to [makes pause] who brought our country to this state and they intend to do the same again. I believe that it is a mistake to test those already being tested. They should be taken to national and international court. If they are forgiven by our people, the bare- footed Afghan people, our history will never forgive them. They are all recorded in the history of our country. [Mojadedi in Dari] That is enough. Thank you. You had asked for three minutes which is now over. Sister, I have been saying since the beginning that all sayings should be courteous and expressed in a good manner. No one should be insulted, and if you have any complaints you could submit your written complaints to the secretaries of the Jerga and we will then follow them up. [someone in the background in Dari] Mr Chairman, kindly give me two minutes! [An indistinct voice of someone sitting close by to the Chairman in Pashto] [Mojadedi replying to him in Pashto] I just did not understand her words, and what she said. [The indistinct voice of the same person sitting by Mojadedi in Pashto] She hit a hard blow to the reputation of Jihadi people saying they are treacherous and [voice very low and indistinct] [noise in the background] [Modadedi] Have your seats please. [Mojadedi] Please let go. Our sister said something, but you people have patience and endure her. [Continuous sound of noise and people yelling and shouting] [Mojadedi] Sister, look what have you done. you raised everyone. Do you think one should say such words to affront everyone and disappoint all. You made a mistake. [Sayaf's voice in Dari] Hello, Hello. Salam o alaicum. Dear brothers! In the name of almighty, Most gracious, Most compassionate. Brothers! I request you to have your seats please for I would like to speak to you for five minutes. Please have your seats. Everyone sit on their places. I request you all to take your seats. [constant request from the attendees to have their seats]. [starts his speech] In the name almighty Allah, Most gracious, Most merciful. By the permission of the Chairman of the Jerga, I only have a few words, and I request my brothers to please pay heed. Brothers! We have all gathered here for a very holy and important mission. In my short speech, yesterday too, I remarked that our sayings should progress in an environment of brotherhood, friendliness and peace. I believe that there will be people intending this gathering to fail. The failure of this gathering is the failure of all nation which will reflect the lack of talent, competency [word in Arabic: Al ayazu bellah] the imprudence of our nation to the people [of the world]. We have achievements that have surprised both history and humanity. This courageous and brave nation crushed and scattered the Superpower, which had shaken the world, to pieces with the strike of their swords. [People voicing Islamic slogans] Another request I have is that my brothers should not rise from their places supporting my words. If you want to welcome my words whether with applause or slogans, please do not rise from your seats. One of the duties of those who have sympathy for this nation, and for these oppressed and helpless people, is to secure the peace and tranquility of this gathering. If people want to disorder it, we should not let them do so. Yesterday during my statements I remarked that our disputes and our discourse and conversations should not be be inconsistent with Islamic and humanitarian ethics and moral. These Mojaheddin [video showed pointing at himself by putting his hand on his chest] who gave two million martyrs for the freedom of this country had such an extended heart and determination who after their return [from Jehad] did not hang even one of the Russian slave. The Chairman of this gathering, Mr Mojadedi, himself announced their amnesty. Those were exempted from punishment who could not have been forgiven by the history, religion, nation, and the customs and ethnicities of humanity throughout the history. But this amnesty was proclaimed for the interest of our nation, for the clashes not to continue and for the calamities and oppressions not to aggregate. Not even forgiveness, but they again even entered the political sphere, and are benefiting their political rights. Possibly they were members of central communist committees, but they were allowed to participate in these elections. They came and are probably present in this assembly too. These all indicate the broadmindedness, liberalism and expanded horizons of the perspective of Moslems. If despite the existence of these facts, you rise and call the true Ghazis of Islam and those who granted freedom to this nation from the mouth of the red dragon, felons and criminals, this itself is a crime. [Islamic slogans voiced by people] I would not like to prolong my speech. This mission is for the house of this nation. This duty is conducted for the nation, and to fail this mission is wished by the aliens, enemies and others slaves here. Anyone making any remark that harms the reputation of those who represent Islam, those who are the pride of the history of humanity, [Mojaheddin] in fact, want to fail this mission. You recognize your nation. 95 per cents selected representatives of your nation are Mojaheddin. What does this mean? This means that Jehad has formed the basis of this nation. I therefore request all brothers to observe manners and ethics while speaking. They should never speak a word to damage the reputation of the confronting party, or even a single attendee of this assembly. Each individual attendee of this Jerga is responsible for the peace, success and completion of this process. Therefore, I request my brothers that even if they hear anything sarcastic, don't rise from your seats. Please submit your written requests and the Chairman who will give you the permission. Give your respond to swears with respect. Your reply to sarcastic statements should be in manner to enter the hearts of people. You could observe that two or three harming statements were about to disappoint the whole nation. Thus, I strongly request you to observe the order of the gathering, and any sarcastic and damaging statements should be avoided. One another request I have from the Chairman of the Jerga, his Excellency Hazrat Saheb [Mjadedi] is when a sentence is sarcastic, damaging and ironical, the speaker's microphone should be disconnect, and should not be allowed to continue. Hazrat Saheb [mojadedi] will himself reply on your behalf. Since we have selected him and trust him and our request is that the chairing commission and Hazrat Saheb should reply on behalf of the attendees. Peace, ethics, manners should be observed and we should all give hands in hand and not let this process fail which disgrace us to the world and nation. [words in Arabic : Wasalam o alaicum wa rahmatullah- e wa barakatohu] [Mojadedi] Thank you very much, Ustad.
Associated Press. Dec 17, 2003 9:20 AM Eastern Time Afghan constitutional council embroiled in controversy, marred by angry sparring By PAUL HAVEN A woman delegate to Afghanistan's landmark constitutional council issued a stinging rebuke of powerful armed faction leaders at the gathering Wednesday, calling them "criminals" and sparking arguments and an attempt to throw her out. The incident came at the start of stormy day at the Kabul session. Supporters of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, meanwhile, accused the government of trying to force them to accept a presidential system, which they say would put too much power in the hands of U.S.-backed Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. Many in the assembly are calling for the creation of a powerful prime minister's post to blunt the president's influence. Karzai has rejected any move to curb his power. In the morning session, Malalai Joya - one of abut 100 female delegates to the 500-member council, launched a verbal attack on faction leaders such as Rabbani. "Why have you again selected as committee chairmen those criminals who have brought these disasters for the Afghan people? In my opinion they should be taken to the world court," said Joya. Many of the commanders who fought the Soviet Union in the 1980s still control provincial fiefdoms and have been accused of human rights abuses and corruption. After ousting the Soviets, the militias turned on each other in a brutal civil war that destroyed most of the capital, Kabul. Some faction leaders, like former president Rabbani and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a deeply conservative Islamist, have been elected to the jirga, and others - like northern strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum were appointed by Karzai. Human rights groups and others have warned that Karzai will bargain away too much to the men in return for their support for a presidential system. Joya's comments, which stopped only after her microphone was turned off, sparked outrage among the hard-liners and their supporters, who denounced her as a communist and demanded she be removed from the session amid shouts of "God is Great!" Council chairman Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, a Karzai ally, ordered Joya thrown out of the session, saying she had "disturbed this jirga and been very rude." As Joya resisted security guards that had come to take her away, Rabbani called for tolerance, and she was allowed to remain. In the debate over the powers of a prime minister, several delegates have threatened a walk-out. Others signed a petition Wednesday saying the issue of divvying up power should be decided before the council takes up other hot-button issues like women's rights and the role of Islam in a future state. "A large group of delegates stood and shouted that they would walk out if the jirga continues in this manner (without a decision on the prime minister)," delegate Mohammed Daoud told The Associated Press. The session was closed to reporters. About 200 of the 500 loya jirga delegates signed a petition calling for a quick decision on whether to create a prime minister, said delegate Hafiz Mansour, a Rabbani supporter and editor of a Northern Alliance weekly newspaper. The alliance was the key U.S. ally in ousting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan which was playing host to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization. Karzai played down the controversy, saying a walkout was unlikely. "I don't think they'll walk out of the jirga," he said on the steps of his palace office. "The jirga will go on and it depends on the delegates of the jirga what they decide." He called Rabbani a "very sensible man" and added: "I don't think that he would let his people do something like that." The first three days of the jirga have been marked by endless squabbling over the method of voting for leadership positions, a parade of self-indulgent monologues and a one-day stall to allow about 60 delegates to attend the opening of the Kabul-Kandahar highway. The jirga broke into 10 different groups Wednesday afternoon to debate different parts of the 160-article draft constitution. It was not clear how many days they would meet for before returning to the plenary session. The committees will be debating such issues as the role of women in society, the place of Islam in a future state and the balance of power in a nation accustomed to fighting over it. Delegates also predicted testy debate over which of Afghanistan's main languages - Dari or Pahsto - should be used for the national anthem, and whether higher education should be free. The council is meeting under intense security amid warnings by the U.S. military that Taliban rebels might try to target the gathering. Early Tuesday, three rockets slammed into Kabul, but none landed near the site of the council. That same night, one German peacekeeping soldier was shot by gunmen as he approached them on a darkened street., said peacekeeping spokesman. Lt. Col. Joerg Langer. His bulletproof vest stopped the bullets, and he was not injured. The gunmen escaped.
Agence France Presse Dec 17, 2003 6:45 AM Eastern Time Woman delegate causes uproar at Afghan convention By WAHEEDULLAH MASSOUD Afghanistan's landmark constitutional convention was in uproar Wednesday after a woman delegate accused former anti-Soviet fighters of dragging the country into civil war. Malalai Joya, a delegate from western Farah province, inflamed the gathering by criticising the mujahedin and calling for them to be put on trial. Afghan soliders had to mount the stage to keep order as dozens of angry mujahedin delegates rushed it shouting "Allah akbar" (God is the greatest) and demanded that the woman was expelled. The chairman of the loya jirga ("grand assembly") was forced to call a break to allow tempers to cool. The unruly scenes were sparked after Joya opposed a plan by several mujahedin delegates for an open discussion on the proposed system of government in Afghanistan. The loya jirga had already agreed to divide the 502 delegates into 10 groups to debate the draft constitution, which is intended to pave the way for Afghanistan's first democratic elections next year. Some mujahedin had threatened to boycott the session, alleging that the cabinet was interfering behind the scenes. But Joya's intervention exacerbated the sharp differences that have emerged over key issues such as the power of the president since Sunday's opening by former king Mohammad Zahir Shah. "I request the chair of the assembly not to give opportunity (to speak) to such people who call the traditional loya jirga 'the council of corruption and prostitution,' while they are the main factors who led this country towards crisis and civil war," she said. Quoting a Dari proverb, Joya said the mujahedin had had their chance to run Afghanistan, made a mess of it during the 1992-96 civil war and should not be allowed to take power again. "They should be tried in national and international courts," she said before the mujahedin rushed the stage to demand the expulsion of Joya, one of around 100 female delegates. She was eventually allowed to stay. The struggle between former anti-Soviet mujahedin factions plunged Afghanistan into four years of civil war until the Taliban seized power in 1996. Most of Kabul was destroyed by mujahedin fighting, rather than during the Soviet or Taliban eras. Delegates are divided between those who support the strong presidential system laid down in the draft and those, including some mujahedin factions, who would prefer some form of prime minister or at least a parliament with real teeth to counter-balance sweeping presidential powers. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly said he will only stand in next year's presidential polls if the loya jirga approves the system laid down in the draft document. With Afghanistan slowly emerging from decades of conflict, several delegates have previously backed Karzai's view that a strong presidential system was needed as the country lacked the mature political parties for a successful parliamentary democracy. Others pointed out that many groups claiming to be political parties are little more than armed militia factions. However, several delegates have called for a parliamentary system and one said Karzai should compromise with his opponents. Critics have warned that the current draft risks widening the country's deep ethnic and factional divides. Streets around the loya jirga site have been sealed off while foreign peacekeepers, newly-trained Afghan soldiers, police and secret service agents provided heavy layers of security. The ousted Taliban have threatened to disrupt the assembly. They claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Kabul early Tuesday which damaged a house but injured no-one.
December 18, 2003 A Young Afghan Dares to Mention the Unmentionable By AMY WALDMAN and CARLOTTA GALL The New York Times KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 17 — Malalai Joya pushed her black head scarf forward to cover her hair fully, then opened her mouth. Out poured a torrent of words, in a voice rising with emotion. Why, she asked the delegates assembled here on Wednesday to ratify a new constitution for Afghanistan, were her countrymen and women tolerating the presence of the "criminals" who had destroyed the country? "They should be brought to national and international justice," she said. "If our people forgive them, history will not." It took a moment for the 502 delegates to absorb the import of her words. When they did, the result was bedlam: shouts of "Death to Communism!" and a rush by some toward the stage, and toward the diminutive Ms. Joya as well. All of 25, Ms. Joya, a social worker from Farah Province, in the southwest, had crossed several lines at once. She had spoken her mind as few Afghan women dare to do. More important, as many interpreted her words, she had spoken against the mujahedeen, or holy warriors, who fought and humbled the Soviet Union. They are a sacrosanct constituency in this country, and a powerful political force in this assembly, a traditional meeting called a loya jirga. Many Afghans, however, now call those commanders warlords, blaming them for the destruction of Kabul in a vicious civil war that began in 1992 after the fall of the Communist government and ended only when the Taliban conquered the country in 1996 and imposed their harsh brand of Islamic law. But few dare say "warlord" aloud. Ms. Joya's experience helps explain why. The assembly chairman, Sebaghatullah Mojeddidi, himself a former mujahedeen leader, called for security officers and tried to throw her out. He was persuaded not to, but he then asked her to apologize to the gathering. She refused. He finally accepted the apologies of others on her behalf. "My sister, you did an astounding thing," Mr. Mojeddidi said. "You have upset everybody here." At a news conference, he said: "In fact we wanted to take her out for the good of herself. Who can stand against mujahedeen to defend her? They've stood against big powers. "You know mujahedeen when they get angry at these things. They don't care about anyone." Two hours after she spoke, an ashen-faced Ms. Joya was in the United Nations tent at the assembly, escorted by two women, members of the security force. She later returned to the assembly but was closely watched to ensure her safety. Amnesty International issued a press release saying that some people present when she spoke had been heard vowing to kill her. After a similar assembly last year, a man who had complained about jihadis, the most religiously conservative mujahedeen, was so seriously threatened that he and his family won political asylum in the West. By accident or intent, Ms. Joya had stepped directly on the fault line of a power struggle that has already emerged in the first few days of this gathering. On one side are the country's American-backed interim president, Hamid Karzai, and his allies, who support a draft constitution that ensures a strong presidency, in part to check the power of the warlords. On the other side are the jihadis. Many favor a parliamentary system that would limit the power of Mr. Karzai and give greater weight to Islam than the current draft does. They are suspicious of Western involvement in the country's political affairs. While Mr. Karzai's faction, backed by the international community, may ultimately have the edge, his opponents have repeatedly showed their strength. When, for example, the chairman could not restore order after Ms. Joya's speech, one of the men she was probably referring to — Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an imposing mujahedeen commander and Islamist scholar whom many accuse of human rights atrocities — had little trouble doing so. He took the stage to quiet the crowd, then delivered a 15-minute lecture (most delegates, Ms. Joya included, get two or three minutes) implicitly accusing her of being a Communist. "When you are calling those heroes who fought for the freedom of the country criminals," he said, "it means you are a criminal yourself." The previous day, Mr. Sayyaf and his allies had managed to gain control of most of the assembly committees, where the real discussions on the draft constitution will take place. Under a plan devised by the constitutional commission and the United Nations, the 502 delegates will divide into 10 committees of 50 people each to allow for more manageable discussion. The real aim, however, is to prevent religious conservatives and those opposed to a strong presidency from steamrolling the debate by intimidation or sheer force of numbers, officials have admitted. The jihadis had opposed the idea of committees on just those grounds, then suddenly agreed to the idea on Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Sayyaf called for the committees to be carefully structured so that each included religious scholars, jihadis, lawyers and elders. Later he won his way, a major concession by the constitutional commission, which had intended to use a computer-run random selection, one foreign official said. At least six of the 10 committees have chosen jihadis as chairmen, including the former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Mr. Sayyaf. No women were chosen to lead any committees, though there are about 100 women serving as delegates. The 10 committee chairmen will wield considerable influence because they will be part of the final reconciliation group that will prepare amendments to put to the vote of the full assembly. The jihadis' control of the committees had upset moderate delegates, and may have provoked Ms. Joya's tirade on Wednesday. She referred to the chairmen in her speech. In a brief interview on Monday, before she became a very public figure, Ms. Joya said she worked for a nongovernmental organization in Farah, helping at the main hospital and running literacy programs for women, and a nursery and an orphanage. Her one goal, she said, was to "improve the women of Afghanistan." She complained that security in Farah Province, where factional commanders hold sway, often fighting amongst themselves, was so bad that it was impossible to provide health care outside the capital. And she had pointed out that she was the namesake of a legendary Pashtun woman, Malalai, who had fought the British in 1880. Ms. Joya's comments fiercely divided the women at the assembly. Some called her brave. Others called her unprintable names for soiling the memory of the warriors who had spilled blood for her country. Fatima Gailani, a member of the constitutional commission, called her rash. "I think she's very young," Ms. Gailani said. She said she had met with Ms. Joya and explained to her that for the country to move forward with unity, women had to proceed carefully. "Till when should we keep quiet?" Ms. Joya had responded. The answer was easy, Ms. Gailani said: "Till we are strong, till the country is strong, till our democracy is strong, till women's situation in this country is strong. Then we can open our mouths." But Safia Sidiqi, a deputy chairwoman of the assembly, defended Ms. Joya's right to speak freely. "If you are working for democracy here in this country, this is one way, this is one step," she said. "People should have freedom of expression."
Female Delegate Attacks Mujahedin By Danish Karokhel in Kabul (ARR No. 87, 17-Dec-03) Institute for War & Peace Reporting A young woman attending the Loya Jirga caused an uproar in Wednesday's session with her sharp words against mujahedin leaders, saying they "destroyed the country" and "should be tried in national and international courts". Although she was threatened with removal from the assembly and asked to apologise, she stood her ground and would not retract her accusations. Malalai Joya, a young delegate elected to represent Farah province in western Afghanistan, began by saying she was speaking on behalf of young people. In an emotional speech, carried live on public television, she continually referred to mujahedin leaders as "criminals", and said that they shouldn't be at the gathering. In the past, statements such as Joya's have caused journalists to be threatened and jailed. Joya questioned why the people who had previously said the Loya Jirga was against Islam were now participating in it. When the mujahedin were fighting the communists, they also expressed hostility to previous institutions of the previous royalist regime, including the Loya Jirga. Joya also questioned why such people were heading so many of the gathering's ten committees. "Why don't you have all these criminals in one committee to once again see where they take the nation?" she asked. "They made our country the centre of national and international fighting. They were the people who put our country in its current condition, and want to again…. "They should be tried in national and international courts. Even if our people forgive them, history will not." Her speech provoked delegates, who leapt from their seats. They crowded the stage, shouting "Death to communism" and "God is great". Sibghatullah Mujaddidi, chairman of the Loya Jirga, tried to calm the crowd, urging delegates to be more tolerant of Joya's remarks. But the representatives only sat down when Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf, head of Itahad-e-Islami jihadi party, took the microphone and insisted on quiet. "I believe some people want this gathering to fail, and the failure of this gathering is the failure of the whole nation," he said. Sayyaf, defending the record of mujahedin, said, "We have shaken the super power of the world [Soviet Union]. This brave nation tore it up with the….sword." And he urged the delegates to exercise restraint. Others, though, told Mujaddidi that Joya she should be removed. Mujaddidi, appearing exasperated, told security officials, "Take this sister out from the gathering, she doesn't have the right to be here." Two Afghan National Army soldiers came up to Joya, but some women delegates appealed to Mujaddidi not to remove her, and the deputy chairs of the gathering agreed. Mujaddidi then backed off and said, "She is forgiven." Later, other delegates said Joya should apologise, and Mujaddidi tried to order her to do so but she refused. One of the deputy chairmen then abruptly switched topics to the appointments on the 10 committees, and immediately adjourned so that two of the committees could elect their leaders. The council worked the rest of the day in its committees, including Joya, who was guarded by UN officials. In a lunch-hour press conference, Mujaddidi defended his right to remove delegates from the hall. As for Joya, he said, "We did this for her safety. Otherwise who can stop the mujahedin? They rose up against big super powers. The woman, God forbid, could have been seriously injured." A secretary of the Loya Jirga, Jamila Mujahed of Kabul, told IWPR that seven members of Joya's family had been killed in a rocket attack, and that she now lives with her uncle in Farah. Other details about her were not available. Female delegates also hurled accusations at jihadi leaders during the Emergency Loya Jirga in June 2002. Some observers say that woman feel freer than men to level such charges because they don't fear they will be killed for doing so – as a man might be. The reason for this is that women's words are perceived as carrying less weight as men's. Danish Karokhel is an editor and staff reporter for IWPR in Kabul.
17 December 2003
Afghanistan: Threats of expulsion of Loya Jirga delegate unacceptable
Following threats of violence and expulsion of an outspoken delegate,
Amnesty International called today on the Chairman of the
Constitutional Loya Jirga - Sebghatollah Mojadedi, and his Deputies
to ensure that all delegates to the body are able to freely express
During this morning's plenary session, a female delegate spoke out
against what she described as the domination of the process by strong
political figures whom she called "criminals". The Chairman prevented
the woman from continuing to speak and some of the delegates began
screaming abuse at her.
Some present were heard to say that they would kill the woman while
others intervened to protect her.
"The Constitutional Loya Jirga presents the people of Afghanistan
with the opportunity to turn away from the abuses of the past and
create a new system in which the rights of all are ensured," the
"If delegates are threatened or otherwise prevented from expressing
their views, this process of building a new future for Afghanistan
will be severely threatened."
After over two decades of war, the country embarked on a process of
reconstruction beginning with the signing of the Bonn Agreement in
December 2001. As a part of this process, a Constitutional Loya Jirga
has been convened to debate and approve a new constitution for the
One powerful factional leader and delegate to the Constitutional Loya
Jirga, Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, was allowed to speak at length and
told the gathering that those who speak against the mujahideen were
the real perpetrators of abuse. The Chairman called for security
guards to intervene and asked the woman to leave, threatening her
with expulsion. He later changed his mind and allowed her to remain
in the meeting, but warned her that she should not speak this way in
Impunity for past abuses has not yet been addressed in Afghanistan.
In many parts of the country insecurity remains. The justice system
is not yet able to provide the rule of law, much less address the
abuses of the past.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office
in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:
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