District chief accused of slayings, torture & extortion
FARAH CITY (Pajhwok): The Parchaman district’s administrative head is involved in killing and torturing several civilians, besides extorting cash from the people, residents of western Farah province allege.
More than 3,000 families have allegedly been forced into migrating from Parchaman owing to the strong-arm tactics of the district chief, Mohammad Daud Mobarez, and his supporters.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has also voiced its grave concern at the overall situation in the district, where only one family has literally been assigned with the district’s administrative control.
Worse still, the government has failed to initiate the required measures to address public concerns at bad governance and brazen violations of constitutionally-guaranteed human rights. Residents lament their gripes have fallen on deaf ears.
Killing of 3 of a family
Mobarez is accused of killing two men and a child belonging to the same family living in the district centre. Members of the aggrieved household claim they had to leave the town after being held captive in their house for a year and a half.
A member of the family, Ayesha, told Pajhwok Afghan News the district chief’s father Mohammad Salim Mobarez, who had held the same position, was killed in a bomb attack on his vehicle in 2012.
The 35-year-old woman recalls Mobarez was appointed to the position in the wake of his father’s death. Soon after assuming office, Mobarez implicated Ayesha’s husband and his brother in the bomb attack.
Ayesha says: “Mobarez and his gunmen kidnapped my husband’s brother 45-year-old Abdur Rashid, who cutting grass in a field close to his house. He was ruthlessly beaten with sticks and Kalashnikov butts, so much so that he died on the way. We weren’t given his body for burial.”
Two months later, the woman explains, the district chief’s brother --accompanied by a group of gunmen -- stormed her house. They picked up her spouse Abdul Ghani, who was reportedly tortured to death.
Forty-five days after the harrowing murder, Ayesha says, Mobarez loyalists snatched a three-year-old son of Abdul Ghani. After a couple of days the hapless family is informed the minor’s body has been dumped in a watercourse.
The child had been strangulated to death, the doctor informed the family. Without naming the doctor, the palpably distraught woman says the child was last of her family member killed by the district chief’s goons.
Held hostage inside home
Following the child’s killing, Mobarez did not allow for a year and a half 15 girls and women of the family to come out of their home. “During this period of virtual captivity, we could not contact anyone. Others were not allowed either to be in touch with us,” Ayesha continues.
Some people of the area did help them, but only when the district chief and his loyalist were away from the town. Finally, Ayesha’s nephew -- a soldier in Kandahar province -- complained to Farah’s former police chief Mohammad Razeq Yaqubi, whose intervention ended the house arrest of the females.
Meanwhile, Yaqubi confirms to Pajhwok the dispute between the two sides. Without going into details, he says relatives of the women informed him of the family’s plight. “I addressed the issue by asking influential elders to intervene and told the district’s administrative head to resolve the problem in accordance with the law and Shariah.”
Once restrictions on them were lifted, the family fled to the Shindand district of Herat province from Parchaman and sought. They sought refuge in Ayesha brother Bashir Ahmad’s house in Shindand before moving to Farah City.
None of the family members was involved in the killing of Salim Mobarez, Ayesha insists. “Since the district head is a serial killer, with predatory supporters in many areas, we couldn’t summon the courage to lodge a complaint against him.
“But now we are ready to face all consequences while raising our voices for justice. This solar year, we lodged a complaint with the governor’s office and are awaiting its result,” she adds.
Khawar, 40-year-old sister of Abdul Rashid and Abdul Ghani, verifies Ayesha’s distressing account. “We suffered a great deal while under house arrest. The district chief’s gunmen would ring our house, disallowing us to come out. Other people were also barred from visiting us. The official himself would occasionally come to our house to harass us.”
With her eyes welling up, she goes on to sob out her story: “An 18-year-old daughter of Abdul Rashid went blind in both eyes due to persisting tensions and pressures. All this cruelty by the official stemmed from his suspicion that her poor brothers had placed the roadside bomb.
“If the government doesn’t provide us with protection, we are ready to set ourselves on fire in front of the governor’s house,” Khawar warns. Aware of the whole touching episode, the authorities are yet to take remedial steps. A number of other innocent people have also been tortured by Daud Mobarez and his father.
Crimes against humanity
Another resident of Parchaman, Nooruddin, says several people approached the governor’s office with a separate application against the district chief some 25 days ago. A copy of the application has been made available to Pajhwok Afghan News.
According to the petition, Mobarez is involved in the killing of 11 innocent civilians, forcing farmers into cultivating poppies, extorting from each family 330afs on Eids and 500afs for district officials to purchase firewood in the winter.
He is also accused of compelling girls into marriage with his gunmen, illicitly taxing the Kuchi tribe (demanding buffalos and firewood from them), selling a cement bag for 1200afs and misappropriating project funds. Forced labour is another allegation levelled against the official.
The petition reads strongmen from one family are ruling Parchaman, where 3100 individuals have been forced by irresponsible gunmen into migrating to other areas. The applicants claim Abdul Zahir, a brother of the district chief, is a local intelligence officer and Abdul Wali, another brother of Mobarez, is the Parchaman police chief. Other district administration officials are also his relatives.
Yet another petitioner, Abdullah Khan, says he has moved from Parchaman to Nimroz province along with his family due to the district chief’s brutal practices. He claims 21 people have signed the application against Mobarez, who has allegedly killed three civilians, including a child.
He maintains: “In Parchaman, no one’s dignity is safe; no one can protect the honour of their daughters. There are thousands of instances of girls and women being disgraced in this benighted town. Although I paid a variety of illegal taxes, I left the district to save my daughters’ honour…”
The man, who also cultivates wheat on his lands in Parchaman, has to pay part of his revenue from opium sales. Residents have sent several applications against Mobarez and his father to the governor, but no action has been taken so far. “We delivered a similar application to former president Hamid Karzai during his visit to Farah.”
Another man from Parchaman, Baidar Khan, holds Mobarez accountable for many gruesome crimes, including murder. Several residents, including Khan, have requested the governor to protect the people against the district chief’s high-handedness. However, the pleas fell on deaf years.
AIHRC spokesman Rafiullah Baidar says they have been unable to visit Parchaman to investigate the allegations due to insecurity there. But the commission’s preliminary investigations have found the district chief guilty of refusing to comply with orders from the central government.
He acknowledges receiving complaints that Mobarez is extorting money from all residents on one pretext or another. The official’s unlawful actions had made access to justice difficult, admits the spokesman, who blasts the district chief for imposing illegal levies on local businessmen.
Mobarez committed widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election, with the result that all votes cast across the district were declared invalid. Although the commission shared the issue with the former governor, no action was taken against Mobarez.
Regarding murder allegations against the district chief, Baidar said: “No one has so far lodged a formal complaint with the rights watchdog.” However, he did not rule out the district head’s complicity in killings. “There is a possibility of this as well.”
Governor’s failed efforts
Deputy Governor Mohammad Yunus Rasuli acknowledges receipt of a litany of complaints against Mobarez in recent years. The governor’s office referred the pleas to the police headquarters for investigation. But he did not say anything about police finding.
Based on public applications, Rasuli says: “We summoned the former district chief (Salim Mobarez), spoke to him regarding people’s grumbles and he went back promising to set things right.” He also confirms filing of petitions by Ayesha’s family and others against the sitting district administrator.
“We have written a letter to Daud Mobarez to appear before judicial organs in Farah City to answer the allegations brought against him. But his arrival in the provincial capital is impossible due to poor security environment in Parchaman,” Rasuli observes. The police chief has been directed to ensure Mobarez comes to Farah City as soon as possible.
Regarding one-family rule in Parchaman, the deputy governor says: “The brothers of Mobarez have been appointed by higher-ups. I don’t know why they have been given these slots.”
On the other hand, Farah police chief Brig. Gen. Fazal Mohammad Samadyar refused to speak on the issue. But another official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the entire provincial government and the National Security Council were aware of the appointment of three people of a Parchaman family.
“The ex-district chief (Salim Mobarez) was a killer, criminal and dictator, who had established a government of his cronies, who have not obeyed even a single directive of the governor or even the president,” he claimed, assailing Daud for following in the footsteps of his late father.
“Every year, the governor’s house is flooded with complaints from residents against the well-connected district chief. Some former governors did try to prosecute Mobarez, but they failed to do so,” the source reveals.
In order to keep his grisly crimes under wraps, the district chief does not want telecom companies to launch operations in Parchaman. Residents’ inability to stay in touch with people in other parts of the country suits Mobarez just fine.
A police official, meanwhile, corroborates claims that the Parchaman trio has been complicit in serious crimes. “We know full well the public complaints are genuine. But now is not the ripe time for prosecuting Mobarez and his brothers. Such legal action could spell trouble.”
Despite repeated efforts, Pajhwok could not reach Mobarez on his digital phone numbers to take his view. The man receiving our calls would say: “For speaking to the district chief, call later on…”
A cell number given by the official’s staff remained powered off. In line with its editorial policy, Pajhwok will readily release the district chief’s response to the allegations -- as and when he provides it.
According to information from residents, Daud Mobarez is a 30-year-old dweller of the Maidanak village of Parchaman. A 12th grader from a Herat school, he has also served as district intelligence chief.
In the preliminary results, he was declared successful in the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections. But industrial-scale rigging in Parchaman prompted the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to nullify all votes cast in the district and hence the inability of Mobarez to find his way to the lower house.
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