RAWA photos from Yakaolang
Human Rights Watch report about Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan
UN accuses Taliban of massacre
"Civilians being deliberately attacked and killed", UN
Rights group accuses Taliban of mass killings
Taleban accused of mass killing
Eyewitness accounts of Taliban massacre in Yakaolang
A RAWA member reports from the massacre by the Taliban in Yakaolang

RAWA, Feb.8, 2001

On returning from the sub-province of Yakaolang (Bamiyan, central Afghanistan) a member of RAWA has submitted this report. Her father and uncle lost their lives in the horrible fighting between the Taliban and the Khalili forces.

On 14 December 2000 at midnight, while the oppressed and pain-wracked people of the sub-province of Yukaolang were engaged in the battle with cold weather, as well as the constant struggle against poverty and starvation, the forces of Karim Khalili and Qurbanali Arfani attacked using guerrilla warfare. This resulted in Taliban fatalities as well as the deaths of many innocent villagers.

At 4AM, the Taliban forces retreated and the armed men of Khalili began systematically looting and pillaging the property of the villagers, under the pretext of conducting an investigation. This went on for seven days.

Among the plundered property:

  • the store of Haji Yar Muhammad of Tajik nationality,
  • Baz Muhammd of Tajik nationality,
  • Dawad Karbalaie of Hazara nationality,
  • the shop of Haji Abdul Gafoor,
  • the house of Ibrahim son of Ali Zafar,
  • the house of Muhammad Ali son of Sayad Ali,
  • the radio repair shop of Sayid Ahmad from the village of Bedmishkin.

After the theft and robbery, the Taliban dragged people out of their homes and shot them dead. Among the people who lost their lives were

  • Haji Yaqub,
  • Haji Ishaq,
  • Sayed Sarwar,
  • and an engineer Syed Dawad with his four children.

From the village of Akhundan,

  • Muhammad Mosa, son of Khuday Nazar,
  • Marheez, son of Sher Muhammad,
  • Ahmad, son of Iqbal
  • about seventeen children were murdered.

But the men of the Taliban were not satisfied. They burnt any remaining people's houses, and then bulldozed them. They also set on fire stockpiles of wheat and animal fodder.

In the village of Quraan the armed men of the Taliban shot a number of small children to death. So unsatiated was the bloodlust of the Taliban, that they killed three peasants by the name of Rajab, Khadim and Hameed in a single house.

After their defeat, the retreating gunmen of Khalili robbed houses they passed. This is why people left their homes, turned to Pakistan and Iran and joined the line of new refugees.

UN calls for end to hostilities in Afghanistan

"Both conflicting parties showed utter disregard for the well-being of the civilian population."

The News
, February 8, 2001

ISLAMABAD: UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan Kamal Hossain has appealed to Taliban Supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar and ousted Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani to refrain from resumption of hostilities.

In his letters addressed to both the sides, he also urged for immediate investigations to identify those responsible for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

He said: "I am extremely concerned about the reports that are now coming out of Yakawlang district in Hazarajat. I have received numerous accounts of civilians being deliberately attacked and killed and subjected to gross and systematic violations of their human rights."

It is reported that in December 2000, the forces of the Northern Alliance captured Yakawlang which was subsequently recaptured by the Taliban militia in the first week of January.

In the course of this offensive, it was reported that both conflicting parties showed utter disregard for the well-being of the civilian population.

A former Bangladeshi foreign minister Kamal Hossain said: "The civilian population, I am informed from independent and reliable sources, did not participate in the armed hostilities and remained in their villages. However, it appears that the Taliban forces engaged in widespread summary executions and arbitrarily detained hundreds of civilians who are still unaccounted for."

A United Nations staff member is still missing and it is reported that local humanitarian personnel are among those killed. It is also reported that the alliance forces occupied a hospital and Leprosy Centre that was subsequently attacked by the Taliban troops.

Kamal Hossain said: "I would earnestly appeal to both sides to refrain from resumption of armed conflict. I would also urge that immediate investigations be undertaken to identify those responsible for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Such violations give rise to international criminal responsibility."

The special rapporteur said: "I would like to visit the area and gather relevant information so that fact can be determined and appropriate action taken. In the meantime, I would appreciate receiving any information that the Taliban authorities could provide about the above-reported occurrences and measures taken to ensure that the right to life and the right not to be subjected to summary execution and arbitrary detention are protected." NNI

Rights group accuses Taliban of mass killings

UPI, Feb.19, 2001

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Fighters in the Taliban militia have killed more than 300 civilians in Afghanistan over the past year, including a massacre in January of members of the Hazara religious minority, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch charged in a report issued Monday.

The report cites witnesses as saying the Taliban committed two massacres -- last May, and Jan. 8-11 in the central highlands of the country. The Taliban, which strictly enforces its own form of Islamic fundamentalism, holds all of Afghanistan except for a small area in the north. Fighting in recent days has shifted control of two north-central cities between the Taliban and its opposition, causing heavy casualties that prompted the United Nations to urge an investigation of reported civilian deaths.

The majority of victims in both attacks were members of the Hazaras, a Shiite Muslim sect based mainly in the highlands of Northern and central Afghanistan. The Taliban, which is made up of Sunni Muslims, accuses the Hazaras of collaboration with Shiite-majority Iran and the United Front. The front, formerly known as the Northern Alliance, has been fighting the Taliban's nearly five-year sweep through most of the country. The opposition controls the northeastern province of Badakhshan, on the border with Tajikistan, and the Panjshir Valley.

According to Human Rights Watch, on Jan. 8 the Taliban retook Yakaolang district in the northern Afghan province of Bamian, a key part of the Hazarajat region -- where the Hazaras are in the majority -- from two groups of Hazaras in the United Front. About 300 civilians, all men, including members of humanitarian groups, were rounded up and shot to death in various public areas, the report said, citing witnesses' accounts and "other corroborating evidence," including photographs.

Last May, according to the report, 31 bodies were found near a mountain pass on the border between the provinces of Baghlan and Samangan, where Hazaras are in the majority as well. Of the dead, 26 were identified as civilians, the human rights group said; all 26 had been jailed for four months, and some were tortured, it added.

Workers buried 29 bodies of victims of the May attack at a single site. One of the workers was quoted in the Human Rights Watch report as saying: "The bodies were lying on the ground face-down. All of their hands were bound behind their backs....The bullet wounds could not be made out on the backs, but there was blood on the ground beneath (their) chests....They were tied together in groups of three using their turbans, and scarves that had been wound together to make ropes. They were tied together, one to the other, using their own turbans.

"To tell you the truth, we were so terrified and upset that we barely dared look at the ground. You could hardly stand there," the witness reportedly said.

On Friday at the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was concerned over reports that "civilians were deliberately targeted" by the Taliban recently in Yakaolang.

"It appears more than 100 people may have been killed, including humanitarian workers," Annan said in a statement. The reports "require prompt investigation, and that those responsible be brought to justice," he added.

A member of the local U.N. staff in central Afghanistan is still missing.

The U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, Kenzo Oshima, called for $230 million in immediate international aid for the more than 1 million Afghans who have been displaced by the war and drought, and who are facing sub-freezing temperatures this winter. Last week Oshima visited the Afghan capital, Kabul, and the cities of Feyzabad and Heart, saying that in separate talks with Taliban leaders and the United Front he urged an end to the fighting.

Since the Taliban retook the areas from the Hazara-led factions -- which had captured them on Dec. 20 -- "there have been numerous credible reports of widespread summary executions of Hazara civilians by the Taliban," Annan said.

Taliban soldiers took the city of Bamian after heavy fighting Saturday, three days after they had been pushed back by the United Front. Bamian is a key route for the Taliban to the few Northern provinces it controls.

UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson on Friday built on Annan's suggestion by calling for an international probe into the massacres to begin immediately, "before additional loss of life occurs."

Human Rights Watch, like other international groups that monitor human rights in Afghanistan, has criticized the United Front for atrocities committed during the civil war. In its latest report, "Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan," the group said that the international community focuses on support for the Taliban abroad, but should instead look into acts of brutality committed within Afghanistan.

Taleban accused of mass killing

BBC News, Feb.19, 2001
By Afghanistan correspondent Kate Clark

Human Rights Watch has released a report detailing the mass killing of civilians by Taleban troops in central Afghanistan last month.

The United Nations first made the allegations that about 170 men and teenage boys were killed in Yakawlang after the Taleban briefly lost and then recaptured the district from the opposition.

The Taleban have denied the reports but stopped journalists visiting the area.

Now Human Rights Watch has released film with graphic evidence of the killings.

The organisation interviewed more than 30 people from Yakawlang who say the Taleban troops rounded up men from the bazaar and nearby villages after they recaptured the district from the opposition.

Mass grave

Many of the men were forced to march to Yakawlang centre where, interviewees say, they were bayoneted or shot outside the office of the British charity Oxfam.

Relatives say the bodies were left stacked like firewood. There is also footage of what Human Rights Watch say is a mass grave in Bedmishkin village.

Some of the corpses still have their hands tied behind their backs. Most have been shot but one has been skinned.

Villagers say it is the body of Mir Ali, a 17-year-old boy. The interviewees are shocked and bewildered.

Anyone affiliated to the opposition had already fled the area. Those who stayed expected the Taleban to treat them humanely.

But people say a delegation from Bedmishkin village carrying a Taleban flag and trying to mediate was among those killed.

They say the secretary of the former Taleban military governor was also shot, as well as Afghan aid workers.

Islamic law

The interviewees believe their only crime was to be from the same ethnic group as the opposition. The Taleban have denied the killings, calling the allegations enemy propaganda. They say it is impossible they could have carried out an action so contrary to Islamic law.

But the weight of this evidence is compelling.

This is not the first time civilians have been targeted during the 20-year-old civil war. But the Taleban have always claimed to be different - a holy movement with a mission to save Afghanistan from lawlessness.

There are allegations of five similar killings by the Taleban in the past 18 months. Human Rights Watch says those who ordered the killings must now be brought to justice.

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