UN report accuses Afghan MPs of torture and massacres
· Publication delayed by fears over former warlords
· Diplomats unhappy over police chief appointments
By Declan Walsh in Kabul
- - A controversial UN report that has
been shelved for 18 months names and shames leading Afghan
politicians and officials accused of orchestrating massacres,
torture, mass rape and other war crimes.
The 220-page report by the UN high commissioner for human
rights, which the Guardian has obtained, details atrocities
committed by communist, mujahideen, Soviet and Taliban fighters
over 23 years of conflict. Originally scheduled for release in
January 2005, the report's publication has been delayed
repeatedly due to sensitivities over identifying former warlords
still in positions of power.
"The UN has been intimidated. It is afraid to rock the boat
because of these guys," said Sam Zarifi of Human Rights Watch.
"But the boat is taking on water and they are going to pull it
Debate over the role of former warlords has grown more heated
since anti-foreigner riots rocked Kabul two weeks ago, casting
clouds over the $12bn (£6.5bn) western-funded reconstruction
effort. European diplomats are angered that days after the riots
President Hamid Karzai appointed 13 former commanders with links
to drugs smuggling, organised crime and illegal militas to
senior positions in the police force. The names were inserted at
the last minute into a list of 86 police chiefs that had been
selected by US, German and Afghan officers as part of a drive to
professionalise the corrupt force.
The most controversial appointment is that of the new Kabul
police chief, Amanullah Guzar. Ranked 202 in a list of 270
candidates, Mr Guzar was appointed by Mr Karzai in place of a
candidate ranked 12th. Documents circulating among western
diplomats allegedly link him to extortion, land grabbing and the
kidnapping of three UN workers in late 2004. Speaking at Kabul
police headquarters, Mr Guzar said: "President Karzai appointed
me and he knows all about my past. Let anyone with allegations
bring them to court."
A European official said the 13 appointments had strained Mr
Karzai's relationship with foreign donors and further eroded his
credibility with ordinary Afghans. "This is not acceptable to
us. If we let people who have committed human rights abuses and
economic crimes slip through, Afghans are going to start asking
what we are doing here," he said.
Jawed Ludin, Mr Karzai's chief of staff, said the 13 names were
added to ensure balance. "It's very sensitive. Building
institutions should not be seen as sidelining any sector of
society, especially the mujahideen," he said.
Another government official said: "Keeping mujahideen commanders
out in the cold is not a good strategy because it turns them
into an anti-state element." Mujahideen, communist and Taliban
leaders feature prominently in the UN "mapping" report. Based on
press reports and human rights testimony, it presents little new
information but offers the first comprehensive survey of wartime
atrocities between 1978 and 2001.
According to the report one commander testified that before the
Afshar massacre of Shia civilians in 1993, jihadi leader Abdul
Rasool Sayyaf told his officers: "Don't leave anyone alive -
kill all of them." During the subsequent killing, according to
the report: "One eyewitness reported ... he had seen an elderly
Shia man nailed to a tree and then shot in the head." Mr Sayyaf
is now an extremist MP who leads a pro-Karzai faction in
Co-author Patricia Gossman said the report was "not a bill of
indictment" but a "truth telling" exercise to help Afghans
confront their past. She said she was "bewildered" by the delays
in publishing. "It sends the wrong signals. This is something
Afghans wanted to see and it's really disappointing we couldn't
live up to that."
A UN spokesman, Aleem Siddique, said the report had been
presented to the Afghan government and may be released within a
month. "We need to ensure it is published at an appropriate
time," he said.
In a separate development yesterday the Afghan government said
it was considering creating units of armed tribesmen to help
protect areas from Taliban fighters. In southern Helmand
province, former governor Sher Muhammad Akhundzada says he has
enlisted several hundred tribesmen. "I have raised 500 people
and am working on their registration. The finance ministry pays
them $200 a month," he told Reuters.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
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