Afghanistan: Warlords Dominate New Parliament
"... up to 60% of deputies in the lower house, are directly or indirectly connected to current and past human rights abuses." HRW Press Alert, December 17, 2005
On Monday, Afghanistan’s first democratically elected parliament in more than three decades will convene in Kabul. But many of the new legislators, including up to 60% of deputies in the lower house, are directly or indirectly connected to current and past human rights abuses.
In the upper house, where one-third of the seats are appointed by President Hamid Karzai, new appointees linked to serious human rights abuses include:
Mohammad Qasim Fahim, a former defense minister and vice president in Karzai’s government, is allegedly linked to war crimes and serious human rights abuses committed in the 1990s.
Arsala Rahmani, a former high-level in the Taliban’s religious affairs ministry, imposed severe restrictions of basic freedoms, particularly for women.
Sher Mohammed Akhunzada, currently governor of Helmand province, is linked to recent abuses committed by forces under his control, including private prisons.
Sam Zarifi, Asia research director at Human Rights Watch, is in Kabul to monitor growing insecurity, particularly in southern Afghanistan.
“The international community will try to portray the opening of parliament as a triumph,” Zia-Zarifi said. “But many Afghans are worried about a parliament dominated by human rights abusers.”