Wed, Jul 30, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Group releases report on abuses in Afghanistan


A human rights report has documented widespread extortion, armed robbery and kidnapping by police and intelligence officials and militias in Afghanistan. The report accuses the US of supporting some of the worst offenders, and blames all countries for not doing enough to intervene and halt the abuses.

The 101-page report, titled Killing You Is a Very Easy Thing for Us, by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, is a list of violent crimes committed against Afghan civilians in recent months in 12 provinces in eastern and southeastern Afghanistan. It also details threats against journalists, feminists and political activists.

The report, which was to be released yesterday, accused soldiers, police officers, commanders and even current Cabinet ministers of responsibility for much of the violence, which, it said, was occurring across Afghanistan.

The perpetrators are people who came to power after the US-led intervention that overthrew the Taliban government in 2001, and who are now abusing their authority, the report said.

"The United States in particular bears much of the responsibility for the actions of those they have propelled to power, for failing to take steps against other abusive leaders, and for impeding attempts to force them to step aside," it said.

"Their continued funding, joint operations and fraternizing with warlords has sent, at best, mixed messages about their goals and intentions," it said.

In Washington, State Department officials said they had not yet seen the report.

The authors of the report predicted that the warlords and abusive commanders would become more entrenched with time and could threaten the success of President Hamid Karzai's government. The report called for an expansion of the international peacekeeping force and more support for disarmament and demobilization.

"Many of these violations are preventable, but solutions will require the concerted attention and action of international and Afghan authorities alike, which to date has not been sufficiently forthcoming," Human Rights Watch said.

An unidentified editor supplied the title of the report, attributing it to a statement by armed men serving the defense minister, Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim, who came to the editor's house after he published a cartoon of Karzai and Fahim.

"They threatened me ... They said: `Look, killing you is a very easy thing for us. Look: We have 30 bullets in our clips. I can shoot all of these 30 bullets into your chest right now, and there is no one who can stop us,'" the editor said in the report.

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