The people of Helmand are demanding a two-day cease fire after a suicide car bomb killed 16 people and injured more than 40 on March 23, 2018.
The attack occurred outside a wrestling match in the Ayub Khan Stadium in Lashkargah City. On Monday, women started a peaceful sit-in in protest of the war. Both the government and the Taliban initially ignored the protest.
However, on March 28th the Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi asked the protesters to first contact the U.S. to ensure a ceasefire because their aggression forced the Taliban to wage war. The Taliban want foreign troops to withdraw from Helmand’s Shorabak base and Kandahar Airport.
The Afghan government has not made a public statement regarding the protest which was first started by women and later joined by men.
Protesters are planning to walk 125 miles in a peace march to Musa Qela, the Taliban stronghold.
Now with hundreds of people gathered in the sit-in and the hashtag #HelmandPeaceMarch starting to trend on social media, members of the Helmand peace rally have pledged to go on a hunger strike. They will not eat nor drink until their demand for a ceasefire is met, according to media reports.
For more than 16 years, Helmand has been the eye of the storm for U.S. counterinsurgency operations. It has always been the strong hold of the Taliban since Helmand shares a border with Pakistan. The southern province is also the mainland of opium and rich in lithium amongst other key natural resources.