Watchdog reports of growing number of revenge attacks

Written by The Frontier Post

KABUL (Agencies): Taliban forces in Afghanistan are targeting known critics despite claiming that they have ordered their fighters to act with restraint, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.
In Kandahar, the Taliban have detained and executed suspected members of the provincial government and security forces, and in some cases their relatives. Among recent cases, the Taliban executed a popular Kandahari comedian, Nazar Mohammad, known as Khasha Zwan, who posted routines that included songs and jokes on TikTok. He had reportedly also worked with the local police.
On July 22, Taliban fighters abducted Khasha Zwan from his home in southern Kandahar, beat him, and then shot him multiple times, HRW said in a statement. After a video of two men slapping and abusing Khasha Zwan appeared on social media, the Taliban admitted that two of their fighters had killed him.
“Taliban forces apparently executed Khasha Zwan because he poked fun at Taliban leaders,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “His murder and other recent abuses demonstrate the willingness of Taliban commanders to violently crush even the tamest criticism or objection,” she said.
Activists in Kandahar said that in villages surrounding the provincial capital, Taliban commanders have detained scores of people associated with the government or police, HRW reported. In one case, on July 16, Taliban fighters abducted two men whose brothers had worked with NDS 03, a CIA-backed strike force that has been responsible for summary executions and other abuses, from their homes in the Qasam Pol area, Dand district, HRW stated.
Their relatives say that they have not heard from the two men since. Also in mid-July, a media report said Taliban fighters detained Ahmadullah, a former police officer, in Spin Boldak. His family has not heard from him since.
His uncle said that the Taliban had sent letters saying that anyone who had worked with the government or foreign forces would not be harmed so long as they reported to the Taliban leadership and “admitted their ‘crime.’” International humanitarian law prohibits summary executions, enforced disappearances, and other mistreatment of anyone in custody, which are war crimes, HRW reported. It is unlawful to detain civilians unless absolutely necessary for imperative security reasons, the statement read. Retaliatory attacks are a form of collective punishment and are also prohibited, HRW stated.
The International Criminal Court is currently investigating allegations of war crimes and serious human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. Taliban commanders who knew or should have known about abuses by forces under their control and took no action to prevent or stop them are culpable as a matter of command responsibility, HRW said. “Advancing Taliban forces have no blank check to brutally target their critics,” Gossman said. “The Taliban leadership usually denies the abuses, but it’s their fighters carrying out these attacks and their responsibility to stop the killings.”
Meanwhile, Free Media Support Organization, NAI, has called on the Afghan warring parties to protect media community. The media watchdog said in a statement that the Taliban fighters have purportedly raided the office of local radio station after they overrun the Dehraud district of southern Urozgan province. The radio stations is named Dihraud Ghag.
The statement quoted provincial governor spokesperson as saying that the Taliban destroyed the radio station and looted its equipment. NAI also accused the militant group of being failed to fulfill its commitment as the group earlier announced to refrain from harming journalists and media outlets but “Dihraud incident showed that they felt short fulfilling promises”.
This comes as the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in a statement called on the government to immediately release the four journalists detained by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) over anti-government propagandas. The watchdog also urged the Afghan government to ensure protection for the journalists. This comes as Afghanistan was last year described as world’s dangerous country for the journalists. The journalists were identified as Bismillah Watandost, Qudratullah Sultani and Mohib Obaidi from Radio Mellat and sanaullah Seyyam, a photo journalist from Shinhawa. They were on their way back from Spin-Boldak while arrested by the NDS forces. Last year, 11 journalists were killed in a series of targeted killing in Afghanistan. However, the perpetrators of the attack are yet to be held accountable.

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