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Pajhwok Afghan News, August 18, 2007

Kingdom of Bandits Prevails in Takhar Province, North of Afghanistan

Members of the provincial council too confirms that kingdom of bandits prevails in Takhar province and makes people to suffer and face harassment.

By Khalil Ahmad Fetri, trainer at International Journalism Center (translated by RAWA)

Taloqan: A number of people in Takhar refer to their province as ‘kingdom of bandits' and blame some of the local commanders of intervening in the government affairs, usurpation of peoples' land and properties, violence against women and unlawful conducts. But the commanders say such claims are baseless.

The Governor of Takhar, Khwaja Ghulam Ghous Abobakr, admits that most of former commanders have occupied government offices especially at the district headquarters of the province and according to the local people they rule and decide in their own interests.

The governor claims that 30 irresponsible commanders, whom he did not name, are in the possession of 8,000 weapons, that clearly shows that the province is still a kingdom of bandits.

In peoples' opinion, landlords' rule or bandit's kingdom denotes an area where a feudal lord rules the roost. And it has long history in Afghanistan. Since Abdulrahman Khan's era, this sort of feudal rule was in practice when central government was weak, therefore, most parts of the country were ruled by individual landlords.

According to some experts, this type of individual feudal governing was almost ended during King Mohammad Zahir's era. But in 1980s when war began in Afghanistan, such local governments and kingdoms in some provinces became business as usual.

Takhar is one of the provinces where the presence of the local influential commanders has made it easier to have local bandits rule instead of central government.

Fraidon, victim of warlords crimes
RAWA Photo: Fraidon, the 7-year-old boy was abducted and brutally murdered by warlords in Takhar.

Abdul Aleem (31) is resident of Rostaq district and father of Yusuf, 6 years old, and Javed, 8 years old, claims that in 2006, Peramqul a former Jehadi commander and member of parliament, ordered his men to kidnap and kill both of his sons. He told the International Journalism Center (IJC): "Peramqul took my children hostage and threatened me to stop talking against him and blaming him for having weapons, killing people and smuggling drugs."

Abdul Aleem is one of those people who has many times protested against Peramqul and has told people that Mullah Peramqul is killer of Takhar people and they should not obey him.

With tears in his eyes, he told IJC: "whatever institution or office I went to, told me to forget this issue, they did nothing for me." While kissing his sons photos, he adds: "After killing my sons, Peramqul put them in a large woolen sack and threw them into a river." He says there is a big number of irresponsible armed men who belong to Peramqul's band and are commanders of Jamiat-e-Islami.

Not only Abdul Aleem but many other people too believe that Peramqul still imposes his commanders on people and wants them to rule in bandits' method.

Forty-one-year old Habeebulrasool, resident of old city of Rostaq district, says that he has been threatened six times so far by Peramqul and four months ago his wife was kidnapped by Peramqul and so far he has no news about her whereabouts. He says: "Peramqul kidnapped my wife because I have participated in demonstrations against him and other commanders along with other people."

He says, when his wife was kidnapped, he was in Kabul to take care of his ill brother.

But Mullah Peramqul denies the above accusations and says that all these people who blame him are former communists who were working with government between 1978 and 1993. This Member of Parliament did not want to talk more about accusations against him and said: "if any one of them have any proof, they can ask the government to arrest me."

Peramqul has been an important commander in Rostaq district and says that during the Jihad time (1993) and resistance time (2001) he had more than 5,000 armed men under his control. He adds that more than one thousand heavy and light weapons and 20 trucks of ammunition he has delivered to DDR and DIAG processes. Peramqul claims that he does not have any armed men under his control now and told IJC: "those persons, who possess illegal weapons in Rostaq district, have no connection with me and the government should arrest them."

Peramqul has seven wives and 20 children and only has studied till secondary religious school in Rostaq district.

Not only Peramqul but other commanders too talk of delivering weapons to DIAG process. But to what extent DIAG has been successful in Takhar province? Said Mahmood, director of DIAG process in Takhar, admits that so far 2,000 weapons (1,500 light and 500 heavy weapons and hundreds of truck of ammunition) have been collected in Rostaq district but the process is not hundred percent complete.

He believes that more than 50 percent of the weapons are still in the possession of local commanders illegally but he did not name them.

Some people in Takhar not only are fed up with Peramqul-led commanders' harassment and operations but also complains of many other commanders.

Abdul Rahman, 43 years old, a shopkeeper in Logari village of Rostaq district, says the local people complain that they are fed up with the commanders to the extent that they are left with no option but to leave the area. He says that commander Khairulah has taken US$12,000 from his shop but whenever he asks him to return the money, the commander passes him death threats. According to Abdul Rahman, Khairulah is commander of Peramqul and currently is security chief of Chal district in Takhar province.

Protest in Takhar
RAWA Photo: People of Takhar have protested a number of times against the rule of the warlords.

Abdularahman has also complaints about Asadulah, another commander of Peramqul, also currently mayor of Khwajaghar district in Takhar. He says that five years go commander Asadulah's men attacked and looted his shop. The commander was then security chief of Rostaq district. Abdul Rahman asserts that when he demanded back his looted goods and commodities, he was severely beaten up by Asadulah's men, even today the marks of wounds are very visible on his body and as a result he has become impotent.

Usurpation of peoples' properties and goods by commanders is another sign and reminder of autocratic system in Afghanistan.

Noor Mohammad (53), resident of Rostaq district, claims that six years ago commander Subhanqul forcibly occupied 300 acre of his land and each acre is worth 50 thousands Afghani (around US$1,000). Subhanqul is also a commander of Peramqul and is currently mayor of Taloqan city. Noor Mohammad says that once Subhanqul wanted to buy his land when refused, Subhanqul occupied it and started cultivating the land as his own.

Noor Mohammad says time and again he has sought help from the judicial officials in Rostaq district but nobody can do anything against Subhanqul because "he is both the commander and the mayor."

But commander Subhanqul claims that he is the legal owner of the land and claims that two years ago he delivered all his weapons to the government through Peramqul.

Said Mahmood, director DIAG process in Takhar, confirms that two years ago Subhanqul handed over 300 weapons (200 light and 100 heavy weapons) to DIAG.

It is not just the people who are fed up with the commanders but the government officials too complain of intervention in their work by local commanders.

Brigadier Payanda Mohammad, security chief of Rostaq district asserts: "When we arrest criminals, there is demand and threat from the commanders to release them immediately." He said that most of the time they have to decide in favor of the commanders without identifying them.

Members of the provincial council too confirms that kingdom of bandits prevails in Takhar province and makes people to suffer and face harassment.

Moulavi Ahmadulah Ahmadi, member of the provincial council and former head of the council, talk about Bashir Chahaabi's (former commander of Hizb-e-Islami Gulboddin Hekmatyar) interference. He says: "a month ago Salahuddin was appointed as mayor of Chah Aab by the provincial authorities but Bashir Chahaabi opposed him and threw him out of the office." Though this claim by Moulavi Ahmadulah was not confirmed by the governor of Takhar, Salahuddin admits that after being appointed as mayor, several times he was forced out of office by Bashir Chahaabi's armed men.

Salahuddin says: "Commander Bashir told me that I have governed here for many years and now any body to be appointed should be with my advice and approval."

Moulavi Ahmadi says that the appointed mayor (Salahuddin) of Chah Aab has not yet taken over the office and a nominated mayor by Bashir did not get approval by government officials so the post of the mayor is still vacant.

Daulat Bibi, 40 years old woman and a resident of Farkhar district, says that in January last year, 13 armed men belonging to commander Ali, raped her. Daulat Bibi, who was just back home from hospital where she spent six weeks, says that the government is doing nothing to arrest the perpetrators.
Ali, former commander of Jamiat-e-Islami and currently security chief of Farkhar district, corroborates that Daulat Babi was raped but denies that the perpetrators belonged to him.
Pajhwok Afghan News, Aug.15, 2007

According to directors of women's affairs, sexual abuse and violence against women is another indication of autocratic system and prevailing kingdom of bandits in Takhar province. Razm Aara Hawash, director of women affair section in Takhar, believes that more than sixty percent of the violence against women is a result of domination of commanders and landlords in the province. She adds that in most of cases of violence against women, these commanders and landlords have decided against Shariat and binding laws in the country.

According to Mrs. Hawash, four months ago in Baharak district, 21-year-old Jomagul son of landlord Wali Mohammad, raped 15-year-old Samia but the culprit was not tried or punished. Instead, the local landlords and commanders granted Samia's mother two acres land so that she abandons the issue.

Director of women's affairs deems such incidents as sign of autocracy in Takhar.

Samia utters: "When I wanted to take my sheep home, suddenly I was strangled by Arbab's (landlord) son, carrying a knife, and was threatened to death." In choked voice, Saima continued that after that Jomagul raped her. Samia's mother, along with her daughter, are now in the office of provincial council demanding punishment for the son of the Arbab, says: "when I got the news what happened to my daughter, I complained to Arbab Wali Mohammad but he did not pay any attention and threatened me." He told me: "don't talk about such issues because they will have bad consequences for you."

Karima Faringzad, member of Takhar provincial council, confirms that medical examination in Bahark clinic shows that Samia was raped. She adds that due to the decision of the members of the provincial council and local elders, Abab Wali Mohammad had to give five acres land to Samia's mother.

Commanders in other districts of the province too have harassed and used violence against tens of other women.

Daulat Bibi, 40 years old woman and a resident of Farkhar district, says that in January last year, 13 armed men belonging to commander Ali, raped her. Daulat Bibi, who was just back home from hospital where she spent six weeks, says that the government is doing nothing to arrest the perpetrators.

Ali, former commander of Jamiat-e-Islami and currently security chief of Farkhar district, corroborates that Daulat Babi was raped but denies that the perpetrators belonged to him.

Most of the people in Takhar also believe that polygamy by the commanders is another sign of violence against women. Forced marriages by the local commanders have increased peoples' concern.

Mohammad Ahsan, 25 years old resident of Taloqan city, states that two months ago he was engaged with Najiba, 20-year-old resident of Farkhar district, but two months ago Commander Ali forcibly married his fiancée. He exclaims that Commander Ali has used gun and money to marry Najiba.

Mohammad Ahsan says: "So far I have been threatened two times by armed men of Commander Ali, neither the government nor the family of the girl has listened to me."

Mohammad Ahsan has decided to leave the area for the sake of his life and out of shame.

Maulavi Ahmadula Ahmadi says that most of the local commanders have between two and seven wives. As a religious scholar he is of the opinion that taking four wives when you cannot provide justice and equality to all, and especially more than four wives is against Islamic commandments. He states: "In Takhar many commanders have done so by using force."

Mohammad Zahir Muzafari, director of Independent Commission of Human Rights in North Eastern zone, refused to give the exact figures of such incidents for the fear of the commanders but said that every week four incidents were reported to their office and this clearly shows prevailing of kingdom of bandits in the province.

Muzafari accused the government and police for being weak to stop unlawful forces.

Peramqul (warlord in Takhar and currently member of the parliament) has seven wives and 20 children and only has studied till secondary religious school in Rostaq district.
Pajhwok Afghan News, Aug.15, 2007

Judge Mohammad Maasoom, director of Takhar's court, sees the presence of commanders in judicial posts in most of the districts and talks of autocratic system in the province. He renders that the staff of the courts mostly decide in favor of commanders. For instance, he says, that Bakhshula, head magistrate in Darqad district, despite working there for six years now, is not capable for this job because most of the settlements are defective and in the interest of the commanders. He told CIJ: "Bukhshula has friendly relations with the commanders and decides in their interest."

He says judges are appointed by central government but despite "our recommendations", commanders influence the appointment procedure.

He denied to reveal the exact figures of incident reported to them, but said that in the current year most of the incidents include land encroachment, manhandling and robberies by armed men belong to commanders as well as violence against women by commanders. In the primary courts, most of the settlements and decisions have been made in favor of the guilty commanders and against the claimants and this is because of the rule and power of the commanders in the region.

Said Ahmad Sami, security chief of Takhar province, tells about the presence of 70 Jehadi commanders in that province and according to him only 40 of them have handed over their weapons to the government.

He did not identify any commander but added that lack of modern military equipment, professional staff and delay in paying their personnel are some reasons behind the government's powerlessness against the commanders.

People and experts have different opinions about the presence and continuation of autocracy or kingdom of bandits. Number of people say that since the government has failed to respond to their demands, they have to support the commanders.

The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government – the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.
The Mail, July 21, 2007

Mirza Mohammad, 41-years-old resident of Khwajaghar district, says: "We are not happy with any one of them, government is even brutal than the commanders." He believes that the government was unable to solve people's economic and social problems and that is why they cannot decline the commanders and support the government. "Sometimes commanders help us. We are poor people, any body who can give us a loaf of bread, we will support him," he says.

But in the opinion of analyst Dashti, a professor at the University of Takhar, absence of powerful central government capable of having control over all parts of the country, is main reason for the continuity of autocracy in this province. In his belief, weapons are still ruling Takhar and the domination of weapons shows power of commanders who are the main cause of kingdom of bandits

He believes: "If there is full disarmament and people, in particular young men, for whom the only means of earning is through weapons, are provided with employment, can wipe out autocracy."

In people's opinion, provinces do not obey the central government and districts do not obey the province. In order to weaken this system, the central government must have control over provincial governments and provincial governments should have control over the districts.

The governor of Takhar confirms the existence of 50 percent weapons in possession of 30 commanders and perceives this is one of the main reasons behind the domination of autocracy. He believes that full disarmament will be good news for ending kingdom of bandits in Takhar province.

Reporters: Sarfarz and Inamula, participants at the CIJ workshop, Aug.15

Category: Warlords, Women, HR Violations, Corruption - Views: 11178


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