Statement Attributable to the Spokesman of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan

Following a recent fact-finding assessment of violent clashes in the Bale Murgab District of Bad his province, the AIHRC and UNAMA condemn in the strongest possible terms the perpetrators of human rights abuses and their commanders. We urge the Governor of Bad his and the local police to exercise all possible influence to end these violations; to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice; as well as to take all other necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of similar events.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AIHRC stress that those who were wounded and those whose relatives were killed or had houses and property looted or destroyed must receive adequate compensation. We further urge the Central Government to pay attention to the civilian population of the area and to its basic needs; as well as to take concrete measures to correct both short- and long-term oppressive socio-economic practices.

From 16-20 April, the AIHRC and UNAMA joined a delegation sent by the Central Government to carry out a preliminary fact-finding assessment of clashes that began in Bale Murgab on 24 March. A major focus was on the impact of the fighting on human rights particularly in the Acai village. Information gathered from Acai elders and from local human rights activists point to extremely serious violations of human rights before and during the recent armed conflict. Such violations are a serious threat to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

According to reports, during the recent conflict in Acai village, 38 civilians died while 761 homes and 21 shops were looted. Among the persons who died were 3 women and 12 children who drowned in a river. Some reports say that they threw themselves in the river to escape the gunfire. Others said the women jumped in to avoid being abused by soldiers. Reports further state that a coalition of local factions pursuing Jumna Khan and his troops executed 26 individuals whose bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs.

According to interlocutors there was an already established pattern of human rights violations in Bale Murgab prior to the recent fighting which may have even triggered the conflict. Reportedly these included: forced taxation of the local population by soldiers and armed individuals not wearing any recognizable uniform; extortion of money and food and; confiscation of cattle and harvest. Failure to comply with the demands of the soldiers resulted in ill treatment and torture and even extra-judiciary executions. Interlocutors also pointed out that persons refusing to comply with requests by the soldiers were labeled as Taliban.

The AIHRC and UNAMA observed gross neglect of the local population including extremely high levels of illiteracy and a total absence of infrastructures as well as qualified teachers. The population does not complain to the local authorities out of fear that this would only exacerbate their abusive behavior. The remoteness of the area often makes it impossible for these people to address complaints tithe central government.

The AIHRC and UNAMA will continue to investigate the human rights violations in Bad his and to monitor actions required from local, regional and central authorities to redress the situation.