Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Afghanistan National Revolutionary Movement's nominate for Presidential election has said that if he wins the election, he will make a system according to Islamic rules.
Molawi Mohammad sayed Hashimi has stated this statement on 3 sour in a press conference in Kabul.
Hasimi said If he win the election, he will search some ways by which Afghan civilian will be able to learn according religious laws and will select those ministers and governors who aren't soaked with corruption.
He affirmed that will make large masques in Afghanistan so that Afghan civilian should not be compelled to immigrate in foreign countries for learning and Afghanistan will have its On Red/Lal Masques.
He also said that will make limited rules and regulations for media to eradicate Media's stubbornness.
According to the information we have, he was Afghanistan National Revolutionary Movement's ex leader (Moulawi Mohammad Nabi Mohammady)'s advisor, and than after year 1371 he worked for a year as consultant minister in Burhanuddin Rabani's government.
Till now beside Hashimi, 31 another persons have nominated themselves for presidential post.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
“This conviction was unjust under the Iranian criminal code and the sentence was severe,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Saberi’s lawyer was not with her when she appeared before the judges for the single hearing on 13 April. Coming as it does in the run-up to elections, this sentence is a warning to all foreign journalists working in Iran.”
The Saberi case is the latest example of how the Iranian authorities arbitrarily use spying charges to arrest journalists and tighten the gag on free expression.
Aged 31, Saberi has been detained ever since her arrest in Tehran in late January. The trial opened before a revolutionary court on 13 April and only one hearing was held, lasting a day. Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, confirmed today to Reporters Without Borders that she has been convicted and sentenced and said he was going to appeal.
Saberi’s arrest was revealed by National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States on 1 March following a call it received from her father on 10 February. The day after the NPR report, the Iranian authorities confirmed she was being held in north Tehran’s Evin prison. On 2 March, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said she had been working “illegally” in Iran. Judicial authority spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said on 3 March that she had been “arrested on the order of the Tehran revolutionary court and is now in detention in Evin prison.”
Born and brought up in the United States, Saberi has an Iranian father who became a US citizen. She moved to Iran six years ago, working as a stringer for NPR from 2002 to 2006. She also worked for the BBC and Fox News. The Iranian authorities do not recognise dual citizenship and regard her as an Iranian like any other.
Her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Without Borders that she had not worked for the media since 2006. She did not have access to news and information as she did not have press accreditation, he said. “Her writings were just personal notes and comments about cultural and literary subjects with a view to writing a book about Iran,” he said, adding that “she had been concentrating since 2006 on studying Farsi and Iranian culture at a Tehran university.”
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Having earned itself the neologism of "Swat video", this widely watched footage shows a burka-clad girl pinned to ground. Two men holding her hand and feet while the third - with a black turban and beard - canning the girl. Crying for mercy ("stop it please") and begging forgiveness, the girl struggles - instinctively but unsuccessfully - to free herself.
Silent onlookers watch on helplessly, apparently unmoved by the shameful spectacle on display. "Either kill me or stop", screams helpless girl yet again in her mother tongue, Pashto. Her pleas for mercy are instead countered by an off-camera instruction to the man holding her feet: "Hold her legs tightly". The flogging does not stop until the count is 34.
Silent onlookers watch on helplessly, apparently unmoved by the shameful spectacle on display. "Either kill me or stop", screams helpless girl yet again in her mother tongue, Pashto. Her pleas for mercy are instead countered by an off-camera instruction to the man holding her feet: "Hold her legs tightly". The flogging does not stop until the count is 34. When the lashing is over, she is led to a stone building nearby.
The footage was passed on to local journalists. Afraid of puritan wrath, the local journalists kept mum. Their fears were justified. Only weeks ago, a journalist was cold-bloodedly murdered in Swat. Elsewhere, Pakistan is no "safe haven" for journalists either. Almost 40 journalists have been killed in the last eight years, most of them in Taliban-controlled districts.
However, self censorship in the face of Taliban terror was not the only reason that mainstream media in Pakistan hushed this video up. Making a "breaking news" out of every trifle, a dozen or so Pakistani channels jealously vie with each other to be the first to report a particular incident. But this footage for days and days did not manage to gatecrash the newsrooms also because a big chunk of media men and women too sympathise with Taliban. A brave woman and documentary maker, Samar Minallah, passed the footage to local media.
"They were not ready to show it", she told this scribe on phone. Finally, she sent the video on to Islamabad-based foreign journalists. It made cautious headlines on April 2 in, for instance, the Guardian while BBC Urdu also hosted the news on its website.
Meantime, women rights groups began staging demonstrations in Lahore and Karachi. Thus, the silence was broken. Then the vultures from mainstream media-houses swooped on Swat. On April 3, electronic media swung to action while the morning papers on April 4 had wall-to-wall coverage of the incident with chilling details.
The media coverage, however, was also triggered by the universal outrage. The anger is so widespread that even right-wing and Islamist parties, for the first time, have condemned the Taliban. Also, a host of columnists and anchorpersons sympathising with Taliban - touted as Media Mujahideen - are, for the first time, finding it hard to defend Taliban. Until now, every brutality Taliban has inflicted on their helpless victims, was justified in the name of resistance to US occupation of Afghanistan. When, for instance, the five-star Marriot was attacked by a suicide bomber in capital Islamabad, a leading Media Mujahid spun a cock-and-bull theory that hotel was housing US military facilities.
It turned out that a beautifully named 14-year-old girl, Chaand (moon in many South Asian languages) was accused of having an "affair" with Adalat Khan, a youth living in the same street. An electrician by profession, Adalat Khan was one day spotted coming out of Chaand’s home by Taliban. Adalat had been summoned by Chaand’s family to help fix some electric appliances. A Taliban militant had proposed Chaand. Her family turned down the suit. Now was a chance to take revenge. Hence, both Adalat and Chaand were dragged out of their respective homes and flogged. First, Adalat was administered 50 lashes. Later, Chaand was spanked with a leather belt.
Muslim Khan, a spokesperson for Taliban in Swat, while replying journalists’ queries not merely defended this disgracful butchery but claimed that the girl should have been stoned instead! Since the punishment was awarded, according to Muslim Khan, before the implementation of Sharia when Taliban were at war with the government hence a fatwa for stoning could not be obtained from a Sharia court.
Deal delivers Sharia law
Following a "peace deal" struck on February 21, between Taliban and the government, Sharia courts have been established. These courts pass a verdict in three days while local lawyers are not allowed to appear as counsels since they are not qualified in Sharia
Meantime, as this scribe is busy writing these lines, more information is pouring in and the latest news is: The Taliban also forced Adalat to marry Chaand. As more information reaches people, they are getting more agitated and outraged. This outrage is translating into protest demonstrations across Pakistan. Every demo is proving more fatal for Taliban than any US drone attack
The Law on Private Matters of the Shiites in Afghanistan
President Karzai has recently signed Qanon-e Ahwal-e Shakhsiah Ahl-e Tashaio a, or the
Law on Private Matters of the Shiites, a new legislation dealing with the private matters of the
Shiite population of Afghanistan. The move has provoked an outcry among the Afghan civil
society and the international community. A number of articles in the new law contradict the basic
principles of human rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
and our national obligations under international human rights conventions and treaties,
particularly the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In a
Taliban-style provision, this law conditions women s movement outside her house to the consent
of her husband. The law undermines the progress towards realization of human rights, empowers
and institutionalizes a radically hard-line interpretation of the holy religion of Islam and sets a
bad precedent for future conservative legislations and government policiesThe Afghanistan Watch has been following the debates surrounding the approval of the
legislation in the National Assembly. It believes that the law is written in line with the most
conservative interpretation of Shiite jurisprudence and many progressive and moderate voices
coming out of the Afghan civil society, the Shiite religious scholars and from within the
parliament during the debate over the draft law were ignored and sidelined. The views expressed
in the law are dictated by the most conservative and a minority of the Shiite ulema in
Afghanistan. The organization believes that enforcement of some provisions of the new law will
be a setback for the promotion of women s and children s rights which have often been presented
as the main goals of the international intervention and the post-Taliban political process in the
country. This will also erode the hopes and aspirations of Afghan women and children after years
of war and total exclusion under the Taliban for liberty, political and legal equality and
improvement in their living conditions after nearly 8 years of democratic experimentAs a member of Afghan civil society, the Afghanistan Watch is deeply alarmed that laws
such as this can be passed by the democratically elected national assembly and singed into effect
by the President
Speakers and Members of both Houses of the National Assembly to reconsider this law in line
with the commitments and obligations of Afghanistan under its Constitution and international
human rights obligations
human rights organizations and the diplomatic community in Kabul to consistently advocate and
pressure the Afghan government and the parliament to respect universally recognized human
rights values and norms
(New York) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai should issue a pardon for Parwez Kambakhsh, a student and part-time journalist, whose 20-year prison sentence for blasphemy has been upheld by the Supreme Court, Human Rights Watch said today. The Supreme Court decision was the final stage in a highly politicized case that has repeatedly flouted Afghan and international law and highlighted the lack of professionalism among the Afghan judiciary
"The Supreme Court represented the last hope that Parwez Kambakhsh would receive a fair hearing, but once again justice was denied," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Kambakhsh has committed no crime. Now it is up to President Karzai to act on principle and free him"
Threats, prejudicial statements, and political interventions have marred the Kambakhsh case from the outset. "This case has been a conspiracy, it is about politics," Nooristani told Human Rights Watch. "I had a legal right to see the Supreme Court judges, but they would not see me; they did not let me submit my defense statement. They had already made up their minds
Kambakhsh was detained in Balkh province on October 27, 2007, accused of writing and distributing an article that criticized the role of women in the Quran. Kambakhsh says he merely downloaded the article from the internet and sent it to friends. While in detention, Kambakhsh says, he was forced to sign a confession under duress
Human Rights Watch called upon the government of Afghanistan to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Kambakhsh and to detain him in a prison where he will not be at risk
Another journalist, Ghows Zalmai, is facing a 20-year jail sentence for blasphemy after publishing a translation of the Quran in Dari, one of the languages of Afghanistan. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing his case
"The Karzai government is allowing blasphemy cases against the press to go forward to keep the support of religious conservatives," said Adams. "Afghans were silenced by the Taliban, and do not want to be silenced again. The government must recommit itself defend freedom of expression"
One day Ali told Zeba that he was going to take on trip and she agreed.
Zeba was handed to a man called Abdullah and a women living in his house.
Abdullah later told Zeba that he spent a lot of money for her and that she was his wife now.
Zeba wanted to refuse him but was afraid that he would kill her if she did.
She was not even able to communicate with Abdullah, well as he is a Dari speaker and she speaks only Pashto.
Zeba was raped a number of times after the Nikka (marriage) ceremony.
Towenty days later, Zeba had a chance to talk with her neighbor who understood Pashto and told her story.
While taking the women living in Abdullah’s house neighbor informed police and the arrested Abdullah."IOM"case record 2008.
A grill who burnt herself in Kandahar:
She was later found dead in house in the same province.
The autopsy revealed that she was first sexually abused and then burnt to death.
Executive Summary UNAMA Human rghts Unit
1.This Report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict in Afghanistan in 2008 is
compiled in pursuance of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1806 (2008). UNAMA conducts
independent and impartial monitoring of incidents involving loss of life or injury to civilians
as well as damage or destruction of civilian infrastructure and conducts activities geared to
mitigating the impact of the armed conflict on civilians. UNAMA’s Human Rights Officers
(national and international), deployed in all of UNAMA’s regional offices and some
provincial offices, utilize a broad range of techniques to gather information on specific cases
irrespective of location or who may be responsible. Such information is cross-checked and
analysed, with a range of diverse sources, for credibility and reliability to the satisfaction of
the Human Rights Officer conducting the investigation, before details are recorded in a
dedicated data base. However, due to limitations arising from the operating environment,
such as the joint nature of some operations and the inability of primary sources in most
instances to precisely identify or distinguish between diverse military actors/insurgents,
UNAMA does not break down responsibility for particular incidents other than attributing
them to “pro-government forces” or “anti-government elements”. UNAMA does not claim
that the statistics presented in this report are complete; it may be the case that, given the
limitations in the operating environment, UNAMA is under-reporting civilian casualties. In
January 2009, UNAMA introduced a new electronic database which is designed to facilitate
the collection and analysis of information, including disaggregation by age and gender.
2. In compliance with its mandate granted under UN Security Council Resolution 1806 (2008),
paragraph (g), the Human Rights Unit of UNAMA (UNAMA Human Rights) undertakes a
range of activities aimed at minimizing the impact of the conflict on civilians, including
reporting through the UN Secretary General to the Security Council, the Special
Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) UNAMA, the UN Emergency Relief
Coordinator, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other UN
mechanisms as appropriate. UNAMA Human Rights advocates with a range of actors
including Afghan authorities, international military forces (IMF), and others with a view to
strengthening compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law. It also
undertakes a range of activities on issues relating to the armed conflict and protection of
civilians with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the
humanitarian community, and members of civil society.
3. The armed conflict intensified significantly throughout Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008, with
a corresponding rise in civilian casualties and a significant erosion of humanitarian space. In
addition to fatalities as a direct result of armed hostilities, civilians have suffered from
injury, loss of livelihood, displacement, destruction of property, as well as disruption of
access to education, healthcare and other essential services.
4. UNAMA Human Rights recorded a total of 2118 civilian casualties between 01 January and
31 December 2008. This figure represents an increase of almost 40% on the 1523 civilian
deaths recorded in the year of 2007. The 2008 civilian death toll is thus the highest of any
year since the end of major hostilities which resulted in the demise of the Taliban regime at
the end of 2001. Of the 2118 casualties reported in 2008, 1160 (55%) were attributed to antigovernment
elements (AGEs) and 828 (39%) to pro-government forces. The remaining 130
(6%) could not be attributed to any of the conflicting parties since, for example, some
civilians died as a result of cross-fire or were killed by unexploded ordinance. The majority
of civilian casualties, namely 41%, occurred in the south of Afghanistan, which saw heavy
fighting in several provinces. High casualty figures have also been reported in the south-east
(20%), east (13%), central (13%) and western (9%) regions.
5. In 2007 Afghan security forces and IMF supporting the Government in Afghanistan were
responsible for 629 (or 41%) of the total civilian casualties recorded. At around 39% of total
civilian casualties, the relative proportion of deaths attributed to pro-government forces
remained relatively stable for 2008. However, at 828, the actual number of recorded noncombatant
deaths caused by pro-government forces amounts to a 31% increase over the
deaths recorded in 2007. This increase occurred notwithstanding various measures
introduced by the IMF to reduce the impact of the war on civilians.
6. Air-strikes remain responsible for the largest percentage of civilian deaths attributed to progovernment
forces. UNAMA recorded 552 civilian casualties of this nature in 2008. This
constitutes 64% of the 828 non-combatant deaths attributed to actions by pro-government
forces in 2008, and 26% of all civilians killed, as a result of armed conflict in 2008. Nighttime
raids, and “force protection incidents” which sometimes result in death and injury to
civilians, are of continuing concern. Also of concern is the transparency and independence
of procedures of inquiry into civilian casualties by the Afghan Government and the IMF; the
issuance of solatia payments to victims (given that the different troop contributing countries
have different conditions for such payments); and the placement of military bases in urban
and other areas with high concentrations of civilians which have subsequently become
targets of insurgent attacks.
7. In the reporting period, international military forces did attempt to address a number of
significant concerns. This included streamlining and greater transparency of command
structures between ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom; the latter now, largely, operates
under the Commander of ISAF who is simultaneously Commander of US Forces
Afghanistan. However, some operators still remain outside his command. It is also
noteworthy that refined tactical directives on “force protection”, air-strikes and night-time
raids have been issued in the latter part of 2008. ISAF also introduced a centralised civilian
casualties tracking cell that is mirrored within US Forces Afghanistan by a similar tracking
cell, aimed at investigating all claims of civilian casualties attributed to ISAF/US Forces
Afghanistan. International military forces showed themselves more willing than before to
institute more regular and transparent inquiries into specific incidents (although the
independence of these inquiries is still questionable).
8. AGEs remain responsible for the largest proportion of civilian casualties. Civilian deaths
reportedly caused by AGEs rose from 700 in 2007 to 1,160 in 2008 – an increase of over
65%. While seasonal trends remained broadly consistent, in practically every month of 2008
the insurgent-caused death toll among civilians was higher than in the same month of 2007
and outstripped that resulting from the actions of pro-government forces. The vast majority
of those killed by the armed opposition are victims of suicide and other IED attacks (725
killed) and of targeted assassinations (271 killed). Together, these tactics accounted for over
85% of the non-combatant deaths attributed to AGE actions. The remainder of AGEinflicted
fatalities resulted primarily from rocket attacks and from ground engagements in
which civilians bystanders were directly affected.
9. Accounting for 725 non-combatant deaths, or 34% of the total civilian casualties in 2008,
suicide and IED attacks killed more Afghan civilians than any other tactic used by the
parties to the conflict. UNDSS recorded 146 suicide attacks and 1,297 detonated IEDs in
2008, with another 93 suicide attacks and 843 IEDs that were discovered before they could
be detonated. Although the majority of such attacks have been directed primarily against
military or government targets, attacks are frequently carried out in crowded civilian areas
with apparent disregard for the extensive damage they cause to civilians. Throughout 2008,
insurgents have shown an increasing disregard for the harm they may inflict on civilians in
such attacks. There have been reports of insurgents using civilians as human shields during
operations and of deliberately basing themselves in civilian areas heedless of the toll that
may be inflicted on civilians. Insurgents have also increasingly targeted persons perceived to
be associated or supportive of the Government and its allies, including teachers, students,
doctors and health workers, tribal elders, civilian government employees, former police and
military personnel, and labourers involved in public-interest construction work. UN and
NGO staff members have also become victims of violence and have been killed, kidnapped
or received death threats on numerous occasions. Schools, particularly those for girls, have
come under increasing attack thereby depriving thousands of students, especially girls, of
their right of access to education. According to UNICEF, attacks on schools and educational
facilities rose by 24%, from 236 incidents reported in 2007 to 293 in 2008.1
10. The deteriorating security situation and drastically reduced humanitarian access intensified
the challenge for the humanitarian agencies to address the growing needs of vulnerable
Afghans. By the end of 2008, “humanitarian space” had shrunk considerably. Large parts of
the south, south-west, south-east, east, and central regions of Afghanistan are now classified
by the UN Department of Safety and Security as an “extreme risk, hostile environment” for
operations. In 2008, 38 aid workers (almost all from NGOs) were killed, double the number
in 2007, and a further 147 abducted. UNDSS recorded over 198 other direct attacks, threats
and intimidations targeting the aid community in 2008.
11. As the conflict intensifies, Afghans are suffering; in addition to the growing number of
deaths and injuries, vulnerable groups are also suffering in terms of destruction of
infrastructure, loss of income or earning opportunities, and deterioration of access to basic
life-supporting services. UNAMA, concerned about the high cost to civilians, calls upon all
parties to respect the relevant rules of international humanitarian law and human rights law
and to do everything in their power to ensure that the impact of their actions has the least
possible negative impact upon the civilian population.
(February 12, 1993)
The Context of the Operation
The Afshar operation of February 1993 represented the largest and most integrated use of
military power undertaken by the ISA up to that time. There were two tactical objectives to the
Operation. First, Massoud intended, through the operation to capture the political and military
headquarters of Hizb-i Wahdat, (which was located in the Social Science Institute, adjoining, the
neighborhood below the Afshar mountain in west Kabul), and to capture Abdul Ali Mazari, the
leader of Hizb-i Wahdat. Second, the ISA intended to consolidate the areas of the capital directly
controlled by Islamic State forces by linking up parts of west Kabul controlled by Ittihad-i Islami
with parts of central Kabul controlled by Jamiat-i Islami. Given the political and military context of Kabul at the time, these two objectives (which were largely attained during the operation)
provide a compelling explanation of why the Islamic State forces attacked Afshar.
The forces that launched the offensive in west Kabul on February 10-11, 1993 all formally
belonged to the ministry of defense of the ISA.
The minister of defense and de facto commander-in-chief of the ISA at the time of the Afshar
operation was Ahmad Shah Massoud. He had overall responsibility for planning and command of military operations. He directly controlled the Jamiat-i Islami units and indirectly controlled the
Ittihad-i Islami unit. Massoud secured the participation of the Ittihad-i Islami units through
agreement with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the leader of the party. Although the Ittihad-i units had been given Afghan Army formation numbers, commanders in the field took their orders from senior
Ittihad-i commanders and Sayyaf himself. Sayyaf acted as the de facto general commander of
Ittihad-i forces during the operation and was directly in touch with senior commanders by radio.
In this sense, Sayyaf shares equal command and control responsibility with the top Jamiat
Page 2 of 7
Given the pattern of violence and ethnic tension that had preceded the operation, the general
commanders could and should have anticipated the pattern of abuse that would result when
launching an offensive into a densely populated Hazara majority area.. Furthermore, as fighting
took place in an area barely two kilometers from the general command post, and field
commanders were equipped with radio communications, the general commander must have
known of the abuses taking place in Afshar as soon as they started. Both Massoud, together with his senior commanders, and Sayyaf failed to take effective measures to prevent abuses before
the operation commenced, or to stop them once the operation was underway.
While it has not been possible to identify individual commanders responsible for specific instances of execution or rape, the Afghanistan Justice Project has been able to identify a number of the commanders who led troops in the operation. Testimony indicates that both Jamiat and Ittihad-i troops committed abuses. Although some of the commanders were only involved in legitimate military actions, capturing and securing a designated objective, commanders who took place in the operation on the ground have a case to answer to determine whether they restrained their troops from abuses, or whether they and their men actively participated in the summary executions, rape, arbitrary detentions and other abuses that occurred during the operation.
The Islamic State, through Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud and leader of factional ally,Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, committed the following military forces to participate in the Afshar operation.
Mohammad Qasim Fahim, director of intelligence, with responsibility for special operations in
support of the offensive and participating in planning of the operation.
Anwar Dangar, commander of a division level unit of mujahidin from Shakkar Darra, Shamali,
named by numerous witnesses as leading troops in Afshar that carried out abuses on the first
two days of the operation.
Mullah Izzat, commander of a division level unit of mujahidin, from Paghman, named by
numerous eye witnesses as leading troops in Afshar that carried out abuses on the first two days
of the operation.
Mohammad Ishaq Panshiri, commander of a brigade level unit of mujahidin (lewa) that,
according to witnesses, participated in the assault.
Hajji Bahlol Panshiri , commander of a brigade level unit (lewa) that, according to witnesses
participated in the assault.
Baba Jullunder Panshiri , commander of a brigade level unit (lewa) that participated in the assault.
Khanjar Akhund, Panshiri , commander of a battalion level unit (ghund) that participated
in the assault.
Mushdoq Lalai , battalion level, participated in the assault.
Baz Mohammad Ahmadi Badakhshani , commander of a division level unit that participated in the assault, attacking from Qargha
Massacre and Mass Rape in Afshar (February 1993)
Page 3 of 7
Ittihad-i Islami commanders and units participating in the operation
Haji Shir Alam, division commander affiliated to Sayyaf, from Paghman, named by numerous eye witnesses as leading troops in Afshar on the first two days when abuses committed
Zulmai Tufan, commander of the Lewa 597 brigade, named by numerous eye witnesses as
leading troops in Afshar on the first two days, when abuses were committed. (Lewa 597 existed
before the fall of Dr. Najibullah’s government when it was called Lewa Moradat-Tank). It was in
based in the Company area of west Kabul.
Dr. Abdullah, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund) of the Lewa 597, named by several
witnesses as leading troops in Afshar on day one and two, when abuses were committed.
Jaglan Naeem, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund) of the Lewa 597, had stationed
troops in Afshar by second day of the operation.
Mullah Taj Mohammad, named as participating in planning of the operation
Abdullah Shah, named by several witnesses as leading troops in Afshar and responsible for
arbitrary arrests, abductions and other abuses.
Khinjar, who had stationed troops in Afshar by the second day of the operation
Abdul Manan Diwana, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), named by witnesses as
stationing troops in Afshar by the second day of the operation
Amanullah Kochi, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), had stationed troops in
Afshar by second day of the operation
Shirin, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), had stationed troops in Afshar by the second day of the operation Mushtaq Lalai, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), had stationed troops in Afshar by the second day of the operation Mullah Kachkol , had stationed troops in Afshar by second day of the operation
The most significant new deployment of artillery before the operation was the position on Aliabad
Hill. Massoud pre-positioned a Z0 23 gun there, with the detachment of 30 men, to target the
area around the Central Silo, Afshar, Kart-iSeh, Kart-iChar and Kart-iSakhi.
Massacre and Mass Rape in Afshar (February 1993)
Page 4 of 7
The main significance of the massive firepower and the large number of positions from which
artillery was used is that they demonstrate the scale and significance of the operation. This was
not a raid or skirmish but a full scale battle, in which the Islamic State deployed the combined
military resources from the old Soviet era army and the mujahidin against targets within the
capital city, all of them located in areas that were primarily residential, with the civilian
Witnesses who were associated with the military at the time of the operation have provided
accounts of the planning and military coordination that Massoud undertook prior to actually
launching the operation on the ground. However, this represents only a partial view of the
planning, as an operation of this scale must have involved intensive preparations. According to
one witness, the top Jamiat commanders, along with selected senior Ittihad-i commanders (Shir
Alam and Zulmai Tufan), and with the main Shia ally, Massoud Hussein Anwari, plus the ISA
military advisors, met under the chairmanship of Massoud at Corps headquarters in Badambagh two days before the operation. Another meeting was held in an intelligence safe house in
KartiParwan, near the Intercontinental hotel, on the night before the offensive. Massoud used the same house as an operations room for much of the day. There was also a meeting of the Ittihadi commanders, under the chairmanship of Sayyaf, in Paghman, one day before the operation.
The purpose of these meetings was to instruct key commanders on their role in the ground
offensive. The ISA forces commenced a generalized bombardment of west Kabul on the night of
February 10-11, 1993, with targets both around the Social Science Institute and Afshar and in
the rest of the Shia areas of the city. Troop movement started around 05.00 on February 11, and
this is generally remembered as the time of the full commencement of the operation. The first
decisive troop movement was from Badambagh to the top of the Radar Hill, part of the Afshar
ridge. ISA troops were immediately able to take over positions along the top of the ridge
unopposed and the main Hizb-i Wahdat defense posts there were burned and the tanks stationed
A large contingent of both Ittihad-i and Jamiat forces advanced towards Afshar from the west.
The closest point of the front line to the main target of the operation was the Kabul Polytechnic.
A Jamiat force advanced along the main Afshar Road, from Kart-iParwan and the Intercontinental
Hotel, towards the Social Science Institute, entering Afshar from the east.
The ISA forces did not advance along other sections of the front line marking the west Kabul
enclave, although they maintained an intense bombardment and had ample forces deployed to
maintain a threat of advance. However, by 13.00 Hizb-i Wahdat’s main defense line along the
Afshar ridge was gone and their hold on the Social Science Institute untenable. Mazari and his
top commanders fled the Institute on foot. By 14.00 the ISA forces were able to occupy the
Social Science Institute, and the forces that had advanced from the east and the west, met up in
Afshar, having taken effective control of the area. They deployed in Khushal Mina and Afshar, but
made no further advance.
Troops started to secure the area, establishing posts and undertaking a search operation. It was
this search operation that rapidly became a mass exercise in abuse and looting, as described in
the civilian eyewitness testimony below.
Mazari was able to order the re-establishment of the defense line along the edge of Khushhal
Mina, next to the Central Silo and Kart-iSakhi, thus retaining most of the rest of west Kabul.
Some of the Afshar residents, basically those considering themselves most vulnerable, managed
to flee with the departing Wahdat troops (this factor seems to account for the relatively low
number of male youths mentioned in the casualties in the testimony). However, the majority of
the Afshar civilian population was in place as the ISA forces took over. Because of the
Massacre and Mass Rape in Afshar (February 1993)
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bombardment, active fighting and presence of potentially hostile troops, it seems that many
civilians were unable to leave on the first day of the operation. However, a mass exodus took
place on the night of the February 11-12. Women and children fled mainly towards Taimani, in
north Kabul, and they found shelter in schools and mosques in the Ismaili quarter there. Some
old men elected to stay and guard houses and possessions, but testimony indicates that the
troops mainly targeted men for arbitrary detention and summary execution, i.e. male civilians
were not free to leave the area. Most survivors who fled Afshar described seeing debris and
corpses along the way, indicating that they fled after the main battle. By the end of the second
day, the bulk of the civilian population had evacuated Afshar and it seems that this exodus was
the development that most decisively ended abuses against civilians in the area.
On the second day of the operation, February 12, Massoud convened a meeting in the Hotel
Intercontinental which, belatedly, discussed arrangements for security in the newly captured
areas. This meeting was attended by top ISA military commanders and political figures, including
Rabbani, Sayyaf, Ayatollah Mohsini, Ayatollah Fazl, and General Fahim. ISA did claim a Shia
constituency and Hussein Anwari, as a senior ISA commander, was under pressure from Shia
civilians to make some arrangements for their safety. The meeting ordered a halt to the
massacre and looting and agreed on an exchange of envoys between the warring parties, for
identification of prisoners. It also called for a withdrawal of the offensive troops, leaving a smaller
force to garrison the new areas.175 Given the scale of abuses that occurred on the first two days
of the operation, before the meeting, it was clearly too late to prevent the main abuses.
The meeting also seems to have been ineffective in halting the looting of the area, as the
destruction of housing in Afshar happened largely after the meeting.
principal military targets would have been the Social Science Institute and the other main Wahdat
garrisons. However, the Social Science Institute was never hit. The majority of the rockets, tank
shells and mortars fell in civilian residential areas. As the command centers of both the Ittihad-i
and Jamiat forces were within site of Afshar, it appears that the attack was intended to drive the civilian population from Afshar—which it succeeded in doing. The number killed in the assault
(not including those summarily executed) is not known. Virtually every witness interviewed by
the Afghanistan Justice Project described seeing bodies in the area. Indeed, the shelling and
mortar fire was so intense, many residents hid on the first day, and did not try to leave. Although this may have reduced civilian casualties from the bombardment, it left these civilians vulnerable to the abuses that followed.
As noted above, the parties to the conflict were bound by Common Article 3 to the Geneva
Conventions, which prohibits summary executions, torture and hostage taking. Witnesses
interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project stated that a group of Hizb-i Wahdat soldiers was
taken prisoner from Wahdat headquarters at the Social Science Institute by Ittihad-i Islami forces
on February 11. In addition to these, a large number of civilian men and suspected Wahdat
militants were arrested from the Afshar area after Ittihad captured it. The number taken is not
known. One group of Hazara prisoners held by Ittihad-i Islami was subsequently used by the
Ittihad commanders to undertake burial of the dead from the Afshar operation, after one week.
This group of witnesses has reported that their relatives were among the civilian and military
prisoners taken by Ittihad-i who subsequently disappeared and are believed to have been
summarily executed by Ittihad-i forces. The Afghanistan Justice Project has been able to obtain
only a few of the names of the victims. Some other men were taken from their homes.
Witness A told the Afghanistan Justice Project that he and his family had tried to escape, but the rocketing and shelling was too intense. “We ran to my mother-in-law’s house and hid there.
Other people told us that people were being killed on the roads. Eventually a few other families
joined us. We could hear the radios of some of the Sayyaf people and they were being warned
not to start fighting over the loot. The armed men – who were from Sayyaf and from Jamiat –
were looting all the houses. Sayyaf’s people spoke Pashto; Jamiat spoke Dari. I sent my family to another place and I stayed at the house. At about 11:00 a.m. a commander named Izatullah
(from Ittihad-i) came to the house with about ten other armed men. I had left the door open
hoping the militias would think the house empty. They came in and beat me and took me to
Qargha river where I was put into a container with about 60-65 men. It was very crowded.
Sometimes some men were taken out and made to do work, like chop wood.” After a week the
prisoners were all told how much they would have to pay to be released. The witness was told he would have to pay $5000. He told them he did not have that much money, but friends in
Paghman came and paid for his release.
Witness B told the Afghanistan Justice Project that Ittihad-i Islami troops had beaten her and
arrested her unarmed husband from their residence in Afshar, and that he was still accounted
Witness C told the Afghanistan Justice Project that the soldiers searched the houses looking for
men. “I was taken to Paghman. At night I was kept in a container; during the day I and other
10-20 men were made to dig trenches. There were lots of containers. At night some men would
be taken out and not come back. We could hear shots and we assumed the men had been killed.
I think some were buried in the trenches. I finally escaped by hiding in the river under a bridge. I left and went to Quetta.”
permanently damaged and he was deaf. According to his wife, he also had difficulty recognizing
people. After he was detained, a second group of 10-15 Ittihad-i soldiers came to the house
between 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. They claimed that they were looking for Wahdat forces, they
grabbed M.’s son by the arm. “My son was about 11 years old. They held him and asked where
his father was. They aimed their guns at him and I threw myself over him. I was shot in the hand and leg but he was shot five times. He died.” The soldiers then took the family belongings and left.
Witness K, 75 years old, stated that troops affiliated to Sayyaf abducted him from Sar-I Jui,
Afshar on the day of the Afshar operation, February 11. He was one of a group of seven men
who were taken prisoner, and beaten severely and made to act as porters to help carry goods
being looted from Afshar. The Ittihad-i troops then took him to Company (a Sayyaf-controlled
area) on that day and held him there for two months. The commander who captured him was
Ghulam Rasool, affiliated to Sayyaf. He stated that after that he spent two months in Shakar
Darra as a prisoner of Anwar Dangar, and then three months in Farzah with Commandant
Haneef. He witnessed the troops summarily executing one of his relatives, Qambar Zohar.
Witness G was briefly arrested and beaten unconscious by Ittihad-i troops on the first day of the operation. When he returned to the area later he removed two bodies from his well, and
estimates that he saw 30-35 bodies himself while fleeing the area (including a decapitated head
left in a window).
Abdullah Khan, of Ghazni Province, 67 years old, was arrested from Afshar by Commander Aziz
Banjar, a Sayyaf commander. The rest of the family had fled to Taimani during the main military operation. Abdullah Khan had stayed on in Afshar to guard the household goods. However, all
household goods were stolen during the operation and the house was destroyed. The family has
have been unable to trace Abdullah Khan and so he remains missing.
Witness Sh. told the Afghanistan Justice Project that when Ittihad-i forces entered her house,
they beat to death her father inside the compound. They then stole all household belongings.
civilians to drive the civilian population from the area. The Afghanistan Justice Project
interviewed many witnesses who described incidents of rape by Ittihad-i forces during the Afshar operation.
soldiers shot her son. She stated: “While I was still bleeding they raped me.” She stated that
three soldiers held her down while the fourth raped her in the basement of her own house.
Several other women had also taken shelter in M.’s house: a neighbor, Z., and her two
daughters, and another woman, R. The Ittihad-i troops raped Z.’s two daughters, ages 14 and
16, and the woman, R. The soldiers took them by turn down to the basement to carry out the
rape. One of Z.’s daughters was injured by a bayonet when she attempted to resist.
Another witness, S., stated that armed men had burst into her house at Afshar-Silo on the
second day of the Afshar operation. They beat and raped her and her sister in their house and
looted the contents.
Witness Sh. stated that after capturing Afshar, Ittihad-i Islami troops forcibly entered her house at 7:00 a.m. They raped four girls in their residential compound, including Sh. her sister, age 14
years, and two others.
There were many other reports of rape; the numbers of women raped is not known.
Residents of Afshar did not return until after 2001. As of mid-2005, the area remains largely
flattened, although some former residents have returned to the ruins of their former homes.
By Simin Fahandejsadi
A journalism student was sentenced to 20 years in an Afghani prison. He is charged with downloading and distributing an article he found online that criticized the rights of women in Islam.
Yaqub Ibrahimi vividly remembers the day his brother, Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh was arrested. It was around ten in the morning on October 27, 2007. Four guards from Afghanistan’s national security service came to their small apartment, arrested Parwez and left.
“They carelessly messed up my room and took my documents and papers with them,” Yaqub told King’s Journalism Review over the phone from Afghanistan. “That’s when the whole story began.”
The security officers took Parwez to the Mazar-i-Sharif Prison and after a four-minute trial, sentenced him to death on January 22, 2008. Parwez was actually luckier than most convicted of “blasphemy” in Afghanistan. He is still alive. An appeal court recently overturned the death sentence but ordered Parwez to spend the next 20 years in prison.
Immediately after the sentence was imposed, press and human rights organizations around the world rose up to defend him. The cause soon became not only a fight to save a journalist’s life, but a battle to salvage the country’s fragile democracy.
“This case has become so symbolic, so political,” Katherine Borlongan, executive director of the Canadian section of Reporters without Borders said.”We’re talking about a death penalty…If we lose this case, what is that going to mean to all of the other young Afghans who dream about freedom?”
Organizations and individuals around the world have circulated petitions, written letters to the Afghan government, sent out press releases and urged governments to stand up for Parwez.
In an open letter dated 11 June 2008 to President Hamid Karzai, Reporters Without Borders wrote, “You must be aware, Mr. President, of the case of the young journalist, Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, which has shocked the entire world. Reporters Without Borders urges you….to give a clear undertaking that your government will protect press freedom, which is currently under so much threat in your country.”
Who is Parwez?
Before being imprisoned, Parwez was a third-year journalism student at Balkh University in Mazar-i-Sharif in the northern province of Balkh. He was also editor-in-chief at Jahan-e Naw Daily, a publication in his province, and wrote for his school paper.
The 23 year old student loved to read and write. According to Yaqub, Parwez had qualities rare in Afghanistan. He was open to ideas different from his own and was an advocate of human rights. “He was always reading. Sometimes I would see him awake at two or three in the morning reading when he had to go to class at 7:00 am the next day.
Yaqub, himself a reporter in Afghanistan, works for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, an organization that trains Afghan journalists. His articles are often critical of the warlords and the religious fundamentalists in Afghanistan. He believes his work was one of the reasons for Parwez’s imprisonment, that authorities wanted to show journalists the consequences of not just blasphemy but of criticizing the government.
“By imprisoning Kambakhsh they wanted to silence me,” He said. “But if we want to be true journalists and reporters in a country like Afghanistan we have to be prepared to face these consequences. We know what can happen to us before we commit to our job.”
Certainly, it can happen suddenly. Parwez was reported to the Afghan intelligence service by his professor and some students at his university for having written and distributed an article insulting to Islam. The intelligence service then investigated and arrested Parwez.
He was taken to prison, where he was tortured. During his time in prison he confessed to downloading and distributing the article but later denied it. He said that he was forced into the confession and that he did not write or distribute it.
On January 22, 2008, in a trial that consisted of three judges, a scribe and Parwez, he was sentenced to death for blasphemy. He had no legal representation and only a few minutes to defend himself.
“What they called my trial lasted just four minutes in a closed court.” Parwez said in an interview with the newspaper, The Independent. “I was told I was guilty and the decision was that I was going to die.”
The article Parwez was accused of distributing was written by an Iranian man in Switzerland who calls himself Arash Bikhoda – or Arash the Godless. Arash, in his Myspace profile, describes himself as “a freedom fighter, republican, capitalist, naturalist, secular humanist, and against Islam.” His article is a list of passages in the Quran that he believes are the proof of the inferior status of women in that religion.
The article starts off this way: “In world’s history Islamists have always been accused of anti-women (beliefs) and for their disregard for the basic rights of women. This essay will show how these anti-women beliefs are rooted in the teachings of their Quran.”
The language of the article is strong. Perwaiz Hayat, professor of South Asian religions and Islam at Dalhousie University said that although Parwez’s intentions were not bad, the article is an insult to the identity of Muslims.
“What Parwez did was courageous in a way,” he said. “He wanted to create that awakening in the minds of people. (But) Muhammad is the identity of Muslims. The moment you talk badly about Muhammad, you’re talking badly about their identity. This kills them: how dare can you do that?”
So, where is Afghanistan’s freedom?
The real question then, is, has Afghanistan progressed enough to allow for freedom of belief, expression and the press?
There are contradictory laws in the Afghan constitution. Article 34 says “freedom of expression is inviolable. Every Afghan has the right to express his thought through speech, writing or illustration or other means.”But for Parwez and others like him, the freedom is not so absolute.
Article 3 of the constitution says that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.” And article 45 of the Afghan Media Law forbids the publication of any materials contrary to the “principals and provisions” of Islam.
Since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 the fight in Afghanistan has been a fight for freedom and democracy against fundamentalism, Yaqub said. “We know that fundamentalist groups are very active in Afghanistan,” he said. “And if there isn’t a strong pressure on them they will destroy anyone they can by their dark beliefs. It’s possible that we or others will be sacrificed in this midst, but it’s OK. We know that these problems will help change the views of people about human (rights).”
Kamran Mir Hazar, a friend of Yaqub and Parwez and editor-in-chief of the website Kabul Press News believes freedom of the press is in retreat in Afghanistan. He was an Afghan reporter who was imprisoned and tortured several times. He escaped from Afghanistan a year ago and is now living in Norway, writing articles about violations of human rights in his home country.
“They accused me of being a spy and working for a spy agency,” Kamran said. “This, for a journalist is a very insulting accusation. There are laws in our constitution that say (the intelligence service) isn’t allowed to arrest journalists but they are trying to change this.”
Regardless of the world wide support Parwez has received, he is not popular with everyone at home.In an interview with an Iranian website called Aatash, a Muslim preacher by the name of Muhammad Abdu’l-Ghaher Ab’ul-Asrar, who preaches at a Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, said he supports the sentence given to Parwez.
“Agreeing with infidelity is the same as infidelity,” he said. “If a Muslim man leaves his religion, he has three days to come back to Islam. If he doesn’t, his punishment is death. Parwez’s three days has come to an end!”But not all Muslims feel that way.
“This article may be objectionable,” said Dr. Jamal Badawi, a Muslim scholar, Imam and professor at Saint Mary’s University. “But you don’t just sentence people like that. Even apostasy, as a matter of just conviction is not subject to capital punishment.”
The Worldwide Cry for His Release
For many organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and Reporters Without Borders, the issue is bigger than the offensiveness of an article. It’s about the violation of a basic right in a country struggling for freedom.
“When you persecute or imprison a journalist you are saying something more,” said Julie Payne, manager of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. “Because…you are talking about not just taking away the voice of that journalist but taking away the voice that was going to talk to all of those people, and all those people that will not get news because that person has been imprisoned.”
Payne’s organization has written letters to the Canadian government asking it to use diplomacy to obtain Parwez’s release. The Canadian government, however, has never responded and it is not clear whether it has taken any action.
Even though the death sentence has now been reversed, advocates for Parwez aren’t giving up the battle. In a statement on its website, Reporters Without Borders said, “Afghan justice has again failed to protect Afghan law and guarantee free expression. By sentencing this young journalist to imprisonment, the appeal court has eliminated the possibility of his being executed, but it has also exposed the degree to which some Afghan judges are susceptible to pressure from fundamentalists.”
Parwez’s defence lawyer has promised a renewed appeal, this time to the Afghan supreme court, and called on Afghan President Karzai to intervene, Agence France Presse reported.
One reason this story has received unprecedented attention is because of the effort and money governments have contributed towards Afghanistan, Kamran believes. It has become like their child and it’s hard to see that small hope for change vanish.
“People’s money has gone to this cause,” said Kamran. “In America, in Canada, people’s taxes are going towards bringing freedom to Afghanistan and it’s disappointing to see this.”
Parwez’s case has even been noticed by the students and faculty at University of King`s College.Fred-Vallance Jones, assistant professor of journalism at King’s, started a petition and drafted an open letter to President Karzai. The faculty at King’s and many students signed the petition and voiced their concern for Parwez.
Stephen Kimber, Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism and the acting director of journalism at the time, said whether the petition had an impact doesn’t matter. It matters that a group of people made the effort to speak out.
“Our job is to ask questions and we have to be able to ask those questions in an environment that doesn’t put your life at risk,” he said. “And when you see that being threatened in a situation like this, it is important to speak out.”
Payne believes the responsibility of helping journalists such as Parwez is on our shoulders as much as it is on our government’s. “I talk to these (journalists) who have lived their entire lives in a war-torn country and expect that the country will be continue to be in war,” she said. “And, yet, they have the optimism and the belief that what they are doing is so important that they will risk their lives to do it…you just think, the very least we can do is add our voices and tell our government that we care about this.”
Meanwhile, Parwez Kambakhsh is still in prison and awaiting his fifth appeal hearing. His brother said his psychological state is worsening every day. He has been moved to a prison in Kabul where terrorists, murderers, thieves and kidnappers are also kept. According to his brother the condition of the prison is horrifying with 10 to 30 people in one small cell. It is extremely hot in the summer and unbearably cold in the winter.
“The prison is a very inhumane place,” Yaqub said. “Parwez used to read a 100-page book in one day but now, when I take him books to read, he cannot even finish reading one or two lines in months. He is being psychologically tortured. I am extremely worried that the damages will be long term.”
There is not much else Yaqub and others can do to minimize the damage being done to Parwez. “Hoping is the only thing that is keeping us going now,” he said.” We are hopeful that the pressures from the international community will have an affect on the government and they will release him…”“And I want to say that if the world keeps silence about issues like these, it is, in fact, creating the most ideal situation for the fundamentalists.”
Also see this link too : http://blogs.ukings.ca/kjr/?p=307
Now available in more than 360 languages, the Declaration is the most translated document in the world — a testament to its universal nature and reach. It has inspired the constitutions of many newly independent States and many new democracies. It has become a yardstick by which we measure respect for what we know, or should know, as right and wrong.
It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality — that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists — and that it exists for them.
The sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration is an occasion for all of us to recommit to the vision of the Declaration. It remains as relevant today as it was on the day it was adopted. I hope you will make it part of your life.
10 December 2008 marks 60 years since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document which promised “Dignity and justice for all of us.” Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, the Declaration is made up of a preamble and 30 articles which set out fundamental human rights and freedoms for men and women across the world.
The commitment to universal dignity and justice is the key message of the Declaration. The core values of inherent human dignity, non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality, apply to everyone, everywhere and always. The Declaration is not a wish-list or luxury, but something that affects and concerns us all.
One of the key appeals of the Declaration is that it was drafted by representatives from all regions of the world and drew inspiration from values, beliefs and political traditions from cultures and societies across the globe. For example Egypt advocated for the statement of universality at the opening of the declaration and a young woman delegate from Pakistan spoke out against child marriage.
Hernán Santa Cruz of Chile, a member of the drafting sub-Committee, wrote: “I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality. In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.”
In 1948 when the Declaration was adopted the world was still recovering from the horror of the Second World War with the added uncertainty of the Cold War between East and West taking place. But with the creation of the United Nations in 1945, the world had vowed never to allow the atrocities of the war to happen again. World leaders came together to reinforce the UN Charter, which founded the organisation, with the Declaration of Human Rights which would guarantee the rights of every individual.
Today, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrates 60 years in existence, there is a chance to recall the amazing worldwide appeal of the Declaration. The document has been translated into more than 360 languages. Although not all governments have become parties to all human rights treaties, all countries have however accepted the Declaration. As such the Declaration is seen as a living document which will continue to inspire future generations.
“In advancing all human rights for all, we will move towards the greatest fulfillment of human potential, a promise which is at the heart of the Universal Declaration." - Former High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.
This is a world in which every man, woman and child lives in dignity, free from hunger, and protected from violence and discrimination, with the benefits of housing, health care, education and opportunity. This vision, in my view, represents the global culture of human rights we strive towards and it should therefore be a unifying rather than divisive force, within and among all cultures.
Yet, we must recognize that, for all the solemn commitments and normative advances made in the promotion and protection of international human rights, serious implementation gaps remain. Impunity, armed conflict and authoritarian rule have not been defeated. Lamentably, a tradeoff between justice and peace is often erroneously invoked when societies emerge from conflict and combatants return to their communities. Regrettably, human rights are at times sidestepped in the name of security. Freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status – the promises of the Universal Declaration - remains an elusive goal. There are too many countries in the world that still systematically discriminate against women, despite international standards and despite recognition of the critical role of women in development, and the role of women in peace and security. A root cause of violence against women is discrimination against women, and I believe that gender equality will contribute to development and security, as well as human rights.
Ms. Pillay was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province in South Africa in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defence attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island. She also worked as a lecturer at a university and later was appointed Vice-President of another university.
In 1995, after the end of apartheid, Ms. Pillay was appointed a judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was chosen to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years, the last four (1999-2003) as President. She played a critical role in the tribunal’s groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. In 2003, she was appointed as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where she remained until August 2008.
In South Africa, as a member of the Women's National Coalition, she contributed to the inclusion of an equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women's rights organization, and has been involved with other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.
Ms. Pillay was born in 1941, and has two daughters.
It has a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the UN and heads the UN’s human rights efforts.
The growth in United Nations human rights activities has paralleled the increasing strength of the international human rights movement since the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. Drafted as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations” the Declaration for the first time in human history set out basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all human beings should enjoy. It has over time been widely accepted as the fundamental norms of human rights that all Governments should respect. December 10, the day of its adoption, is observed worldwide as International Human Rights Day.
In 2006 the Human Rights Council was established with an expanded mandate of making recommendations to the General Assembly for further developing international law in the field of human rights and undertaking a Universal Periodic Review of the fulfilment of each State of its human rights obligations and commitments.
60 years ago in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article Nine established: “No one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.” This means that no one can hold you, your relatives or anyone else unless the law says they can and they follow proper legal procedures.
In Afghanistan, the 2004 Constitutional Loya Jirga translated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into Afghan law, including Article Nine, and prohibited arbitrary arrest and detention in Afghanistan. The Constitution of Afghanistan guarantees that “No one can be pursued, arrested or detained without due process of law” (Article 27; 2) and that a person’s liberty (or freedoms) can be restricted only when the law provides (Article 24; 1).
In line with the Constitution, Afghan laws, such as the Police Law and the Interim Criminal Procedure Code, say who can arrest and detain you, how long you can be detained for and for what reasons. It also clearly states what procedures must be followed for a detention to be legal.
If there are no legal reasons for you to be detained or the detention is beyond the time limit, then you are being arbitrarily detained. If the proper procedures or ‘due process of law’ has not been followed, then you have been arbitrarily detained.
Many people have been and continue to be arbitrarily detained in Afghanistan. People are detained even when they have not committed a crime; sometimes because there is a contractual dispute, sometimes because a powerful person wants to influence them; sometimes because the police want to pressure a criminal suspect by detaining his/her relatives; sometimes because the police, prosecutor or judge want a bribe; sometimes because what is a crime is not always understood.
Afghans also end up being detained arbitrarily because procedures have not been followed. For instance, many Afghans have not been told that they are entitled to a defence counsel or what the charges are against them. Many Afghans also remain in detention past the legal time limits.
Stopping arbitrary detention in Afghanistan will be a long process. Better protections against arbitrary detention need to be put into the law and the law needs to be fully implemented. Afghans are still learning about their rights. The authorities detaining people are still learning to understand their obligations towards detainees under Afghan law.
Criminal law, for instance, does not explicitly ask judges to review the lawfulness of detention until the first court hearing. This means it is possible for someone to be arbitrarily detained for three months before coming before a judge. At the same time, the law requires that authorities release detainees if the police, prosecutors or courts do not meet their legal time lines. This however often does not happen because of confusion and lack of coordination and communication between the authorities responsible.
To successful combat arbitrary detention will require both those detaining people to be more diligent about respecting people’s rights and those who are detained and their families to demand that these rights be respected by the authorities.
Encouragingly, some progress is being made. The Ministry of Justice is working, with the support of the international community, to strengthen the law so that your rights are better protected. For instance, the draft law now grants you the right to have the lawfulness of your detention reviewed within days of being detained. Police, prosecutors and judges are also working together to strengthen oversight and coordination.
A better system needs to be put in place to monitor if the police, prosecutors and judges tell detainees about their rights and respect those rights; this also needs to discipline those who do not. More focused training needs to be developed so that those who detain people fully understand the rights and the laws they are upholding.
And, importantly, more effort needs to be made so that you, your family and your neighbours know your rights and how to exercise them.
You can help stop arbitrary detention today. Learn more about what your rights are. Share this magazine and your new knowledge with a community elder, a friend, or a relative. If a relative is detained, then go to the authorities and remind them of their obligations.
Khoda hafez (Good bye) were the last words Mir Gul, a retired university lecturer, heard from his son Qasim in the hot summer of 1992. Qasim, 24, the father of a three month old girl left home for work and “disappeared”. Years later Mir Gul found that he’d been killed by fighters in the Guzar Gah area of Kabul.
One day Malalai’s husband, an ordinary employee at Kabul Airport and member of no political party went to work; no one has seen him since. Almost a decade later Malalai found out that he’d been arrested by the Khad, then Afghanistan’s intelligence agency. He was taken from his office directly to Pul-e-Charkhi prison where he and many others were executed without a trial.
There are hundreds of cases and thousands of people who disappeared following the April coup of 1978 when the first Afghan President Mohammad Daud was overthrown until 2001 when the Taliban regime was toppled.
People were executed, many of them without trial, by the pro-Soviet regime during 1978-1991.
Human rights violations
After the fall of the pro-Soviet regime in April 1992, factional fighting started. Kabul was reduced to rubble and many civilians died.
Mohammad Karim was a grade twelve student when he was stopped by fighters on the Darul Aman road. He was taken to the house of Science and Culture on the same road.
“Blood ran cold in my veins as I saw another man badly beaten and bleeding there,” said Karim. “I saw that young man dying and thought I will die the same way. They searched me and took my wrist watch and a little cash I had.”
The fighters kicked Karim and beat him with their AK-47s and chains. As their position came under attack from a rival faction they went off to fight. Karim, who was only just able to move, managed to climb a wall and escape.
Manan was very “lucky” to have only one sister killed when a rocket landed in a wedding party in Qalai Fateullah Khan, a residential neighbourhood in Kabul. Manan’s entire family was on their way to the wedding where 60 people were killed. Being late saved Manan’s family.
Abdul Naser carried his teenage sister who was wounded in a rocket attack in the residential area of Sarak-e-Naw.
“We were caught in the middle of the fighting when we were going home and she was wounded in her abdomen. While carrying her I was feeling warmth from her breathing at my neck. Suddenly I felt no warmth and when we reached home she was already dead,” said Naser.
Due to on-gong fighting their family buried her in the yard of the house as many other people did with their loved ones who died in the days of severe fighting between the two factions.
An entire family of 13 people was killed by a single rocket which landed on a house in the Khair Khana neighbourhood in Kabul.
“Neighbours buried the family as there was no way to inform relatives in those days of the bloodshed,” recalled Haji Najeeb the neighbour of the deceased family.
Fighters were also stationed on the Kart-e-Naw hills. “They were forcing us to carry their food to the top of the hill. Once I saw two fighters betting for a bottle of Coca Cola to see who was a better sniper. Nothing strange in this except that their targets were people walking down the hill on the roads,” remembered Abdul Rashid a resident of Kart-e-Naw.
Abdul Rashid stayed in Kabul to look after his house. “I left for Jalalabad the next day as my life was worth just a bottle of cold drink,” he says.
No single group is responsible for Afghanistan's tragic legacy of war and civil strife. All the victims I spoke to say there should be no amnesty for those who committed human rights violations against civilians.
Call for justice
What is common from the people describing their grievances is the call for justice.
All the names of the people mentioned have been changed as they still fear persecution for expressing their opinion about such a sensitive matter as transitional justice.
“When I hear from the media that the Government offers reconciliation to the person who is behind the killing of my son, this makes me mad,” said Mir Gul.
“I know no one is guilty until the court recognizes him or her as guilty but there is compelling evidence,” he adds. “I would have felt much better if I had buried my husband,” said Malalai, who believes that transitional justice is a long process but she has not seen the first step taken yet.
Afghanistan launched an action plan for peace, reconciliation and justice in December 2006 which was drafted by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
The action plan includes an acknowledgement of the suffering of the Afghan people and ensuring credible and accountable state institutions. The plan highlights purging human rights violators and criminals from state institutions, truth-seeking and documentation, promotion of reconciliation and an improvement of national unity and the establishment of effective and reasonable accountability mechanisms.
Both houses of parliament, the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga) and the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga) have passed a reconciliation bill granting amnesty for all those involved in human rights violations during past civil wars. The bill still needs to be endorsed by the President.
“I hope if not me, but my granddaughter will one day will see her father’s killers behind bars,” concludes Mir Gul.
Q & A
Dr. Sima Samar, Head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission
Q: Your main focus has been on the documentation of past crimes. What else, beside documentation, has been done in regard to transitional justice?
Based on the report “A call for justice” an action plan was made. The plan was for three years - 2006, 2007, 2008. There are five points clearly mentioned in the action plan: 1 - Acknowledging the suffering of the people; 2 - Nominating a day as “Victim’s Day” and building memorials. These can reduce the pain of the people. 3 - Strengthening documentation. Some of the documents should be collected and should draw a map of the crimes which have taken place in the past and should indicate which kinds of crimes they were. 4 - The removal of people accused of war crimes from Government positions. For this purpose a consultative committee has been established for the President. The committee had to review the candidates past human rights record and make sure that a post should go to the right person; 5 - Establishing a committee or an institution to investigate war crimes , but unfortunately it didn’t happen and only a day has been nominated as National Day of Human Rights Victims which is observed on 10 December.
As for as the documentation is concerned, the commission has worked on it. Now we are in the process of analyzing our reports for any shortcomings. We are in the process of making a small museum in Badakhshan province and we have also worked on a memorial place in Herat.
AIHRC: This was the action plan for peace, reconciliation and justice which I already explained. The Government has not taken any fruitful action as it was expected to. The reason behind that are the killings you can see happening in the city. People have lost hope and trust in justice and therefore people are unfortunately attempting revenge which will continue to have negative impacts on our community. In fact, we were supporting more to be done in this regard on different approaches: cultural, traditional or Islamic approaches should be exercised for amnesty and people must be encouraged for forgiveness. Actually, there has been little done in this aspect.
Moreover, if you remember, the lower and upper houses of Parliament have passed an amnesty bill and let all criminals get amnesty, from the Saur Coup of 1357 (the April Revolution of 1978) until now. Whoever was involved in conflicts have been given full impunity. However, the President has not endorsed the bill. But there are indications, unfortunately, showing the bill is being implemented.
For example, Asadullah Sarwary, who was head of the AKSA (National Security Department) during the communist regime, killed and tortured to death many ordinary people around the country. The prison term for Asadullah Sarwary was 16 years whilst unfortunately others who committed lesser crimes will face capital punishment.
AIHRC: In my view, it would be good to give people more awareness. One of the useful ways to organize such a theatre is to give awareness and through it create an environment of an open discussion regarding past crimes and the process of transitional justice amongst the people. I have read the reports on the theatre in Herat, Jalalabad and Bamyan where UNAMA and the Human Rights Commission had organised it and the outcome of the theatre shows it is what people really want. In these three provinces we have witnessed that the people are really appealing for the implementation of justice.
Not addressing past war crimes is not a solution for the people. In fact this causes people to run out of patience and they look for opportunities to take revenge themselves. We should not let this happen.
Therefore, such theatres are a useful awareness tool as it provides opportunity for the victims to share their sufferings and pains. This reduces their protests and finally eliminates them.
AIHRC: Mass graves were actually mapped and identified by people who witnessed the incidents. Unfortunately most of these mass murders took place during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. To further investigate how many people were killed and who they were exactly we would need broader scientific approaches and that is costly. In my personal view, if that is not possible at least the human dignity of those buried must be respected before any construction projects take place.
I have just come from Brussels and the city of Ypres which was totally destroyed in World War One. There are 160 graves in the city and the names of all the victims; even the dates of birth and their country of origin have been engraved on the grave stones. The names of those who were lost and have not been identified, which is some 60,000 people, are also recorded on another memorial place. People remember them and pray for them. Psychologically it affects people while remembering those lost. We hope the same happens in Afghanistan.
Q: You mentioned about the Martyr’s Park in Kabul. I assume all of the mass graves would be re-located in that park as it is almost impossible to identity the victims?
AIHRC: This requires a political commitment and in this regard there have been comments by some religious mullahs not to let this happen and thus making it more political. But the Government can build such memorials and there could be room for a park or tower in any of those places where the killings happened. Regrettably no efforts have been made in this regard so far.
AIHRC: This again depends on the commitment of leaders and politicians in Afghanistan and to what extent they want a long lasting reconciliation in Afghanistan. There is a need to reduce violence, hatred and pain in this country. This is the responsibility of political leaders now to consider the human dignity of those who lost their lives for freedom and peace in this country. Otherwise we will not leave a good message for future generations in this country who need to know what happened.
Wednesday، December 31، 2008