PAN, April 23, 2014

Faryab women protest against warlord

The provincial council chief Rahmatullah Turkistani confirmed the commander and his supporters had sexually abused women during the attack on civilian homes

By Qutbuddin Kohi

A large number of weeping women on Wednesday staged a protest rally in northern Faryab province, accusing a local commander of sexually abusing and murdering young girls and children during a bloody clash with civilians.

Nearly 100 women, accompanied by children, from Pashtun Kot district arrived in Maimana, the provincial capital, and assembled in front of the governor’s house.

They alleged the local warlord, Qader Rahmani, had subjected women and children to sexual harassment during the clash, asking the government to punish him and his armed supporters.

An angry woman told Pajhwok Afghan News Rahmani had killed her spouse, rendering her a widowed mother of five children.

Many children who accompanied the protesting women were barefoot. The children were shouting, saying they wanted the killers of their fathers to be punished.

Another weeping woman said the commander set ablaze their house in which her brother Mufti Asif died. “My brother was innocent. He was a religious scholar.”

Faryab province on Afghanistan's map
Faryab province on Afghanistan's map.

Some employees of the governor’s house emerged and talked to the protesting women and their eyes filled with tears as they listened to the women’s ordeals.

As the Pashtun Kot police chief came out of the governor’s house, the protesting women and children attacked him, but he sped away in his police pick-up.

When an intelligence official tried to convince the women that the district police was not guilty, the women also quarreled with him.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) official told the protesters the local warlord had forcibly seized the military equipment and tanks from the district police chief.

The governor’s spokesman Ahmad Javed Bidar said a probe team that travelled to the Pashtun Kot district had prepared its report, which had no mention of sexual abuses.

He said if the probe team had not been neutral in preparing its report, its members would face a legal action.

The report said a brother of Rahmani and three civilians were killed and 16 houses were torched during a clash between his gunmen and civilians. The clash left 80 percent of Pashtun Kot residents displaced.

But the protestors claimed 15 civilians had been killed and 40 houses set ablaze during the violence.

They said the victims included religious scholars Maulvi Asadullah, Mullah Rassoul, Mullah Paighambarqul and a police officer.

A resident of Aqdara area, where the incident took place, said Rahmani led dozens of his gunmen, raiding civilian houses, sexually abusing women and taking 20 others hostage.

Mullah Abdul Salaam added the public order police and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops had no courage to put hand on the commander.

But Rahmani’s son, Taher Rahmani, denied people’s claims, saying a conspiracy was being hatched against them by the provincial council chief.

Taher Rahmani, who is also a member of the council and seeking his reelection, said only six persons, who were militants, had died in the violence.

“A few houses where militants were hiding had been torched and no civilians suffered casualties,” he said.

The provincial council chief Rahmatullah Turkistani confirmed the commander and his supporters had sexually abused women during the attack on civilian homes.

He said the violence broke out after the commander’s brother Atta Mohammad was killed during a clash with residents.

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