HRW Reports Rights Abuses by Afghan Governor Ismail Khan

, Nov.5, 2002

Ismail Khan and his followers -their hands are bloody. For them, killing a bird is the same as killing a man.

What has changed in Afghanistan? All our hopes are crushed. We are completely disappointed. Look: all the same warlords are in power as before.

-Herat resident (from HRW report)
September 11, 2002

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S.-led coalition forces are supporting an influential Tajik governor in western Afghanistan who has abused power through politically motivated arrests, torture and other violations of human rights, a U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

Under the command of Ismail Khan, the local governor of Herat, the military, police and intelligence services have been involved in widespread abuses, according to the report by Human Rights Watch.

"The international community says it wants to reduce the power of the warlords and bring law and order back to Afghanistan," said John Sifton, the reportīs co-author. "But in Herat, it has done exactly the opposite. The friend of the international community in western Afghanistan is an enemy of human rights."

The US military will continue to work closely with Afghan warlords, despite allegations of human rights abuses, because they provide stability and security in the absence of a strong central government, the American commander in charge of coalition forces (Army Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill) in Afghanistan said.

Times, November 4, 2002

The State Department had no immediate response, saying it wants to "digest" the report before commenting.

Both the U.S. and Iranian militaries have a presence in the Herat area, and they regularly meet with Ismail Khan and members of his government, Human Rights Watch said.

Ismail Khan has personally ordered some of the politically motivated arrests and beatings, which have been carried out with thorny branches, sticks, cables and rifle butts, Human Rights Watch said.

The group said the most serious instances of torture involved hanging detainees upside down, whipping them and using electric shocks.

"The United States and Iran have a great deal of influence over Ismail Khan," said Sifton. "They put him where he is today. They now have a responsibility to make him clean up his act."

Members of the Pashtun ethnic group have been specially targeted for abuse, the report said.

Click here to view the full text of HRW report

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