HRW calls for prosecuting militiamen loyal to Dostum
KABUL (Pajhwok): An international human rights organisation on Sunday asked the Afghan government to prosecute militia members responsible for killings and other abuses against civilians in northwestern Faryab province in June, 2016.
In a report, the Human Rights Watch said it had interviewed villagers in the aftermath of the attack involving Junbish-i-Milli militiamen loyal to 1stVice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former warlord implicated in war crimes.
“The killings in Faryab are the latest in a long record of atrocities by Dostum’s militia forces,” said Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch.
She added: “The fact that these forces, and Vice-President Dostum himself, have never been held accountable has undermined security in northern Afghanistan.”
On June 26, Afghan army and Junbish forces conducted a military operation against Taliban in Faryab, where the militiamen killed at least 13 civilians and wounded 32 others, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
After Taliban left the area, Junbish fighters entered four villages and assaulted residents they accused of supporting the Taliban, killing five and injuring 12.
In July, the New York-based group interviewed residents of the villages that came under attack. Hashmat,35, a resident of Dawlatabad, said: “It was about 8am. I was in my house when about 200 Ranger cars of Junbish militia came into the village. The ANA [Afghan National Army] was not with them.
“They were carrying guns like Kalashnikovs and shouting “You’re Taliban!” and firing as people came out of their houses, the man alleged.
Soraya, a 50-year-old woman from Qadir Doaba, said the militia forces beat her severely on her back with their guns. She said they told her, “You are Pashtuns, you cannot say anything – you have no rights.”
Her son Rasul, about 30, said that the militia forces had entered the village several times over the past eight months, threatening residents and forcing them to hand over food and money.
Some villagers told HRW regular Afghanistan military forces stood by when the Junbish forces entered the villages. Although they did not participate in the assaults, they did nothing to stop them.
“Under the laws of war, which are applicable to the conflict in Afghanistan, the government has an obligation to investigate alleged war crimes by its forces … and appropriately prosecute those responsible,” the statement said.
“Commanders who knew or should have known about crimes committed by their subordinates but took no action can be held criminally liable as a matter of command responsibility,” it added.
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