Escalation of Violent Confrontations and a Rise in Violations of Human Rights
Escalation of Violent Confrontations and a Rise in Violations of Human Rights
(From 1st to 15th of Saratan 1400/June 22 to July 6, 2021)
The escalation of war and violence in different parts of Afghanistan, especially in the last two months, has seriously damaged the lives of the Afghans in different areas. According to the findings of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), civilian casualties, citizen displacement, and the harmful effects of violence in various provinces have increased as a result of conflict parties' failure to comply with international humanitarian law. Furthermore, according to the Commission, after taking districts, the Taliban impose restrictions on citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms in several provinces, particularly restricting women's access to basic rights and freedoms, such as access to health and education services.
The current report, based on information gathered from the Commission's Regional and Provincial Offices during the first 15 days of Saratan 1400 (June 22 to July 6, 2021), analyses the impacts of the ongoing conflict on the human rights situation.
Expansion of War and Armed Conflict
According to AIHRC findings, the scope of war and violence expanded unprecedentedly across the country during the first 15 days of Saratan, 1400 ((June 22 to July 6, 2021), during which hundreds of civilians were killed and injured, and thousands more were forced to flee their homes.
Rising food prices and limited access to health services as a result of the closure of public highways, the destruction of public utilities, restrictions on citizens' fundamental freedoms, and the restriction of women's access to education and health services are other consequences of the current war that have caused serious concerns for the people. The spread of the war has led to widespread violations of humanitarian law and the human rights of the people. It has turned into a significant and pervasive national crisis that claims victims in various ways every day in different parts of the country.
Violations of international humanitarian law, principles, and standards, as well as human rights values:
A) Violation of the Principles and Rules of International Humanitarian Law and the Commission of war Crimes
According to the findings of the AIHRC, the parties to the conflict have consistently violated international humanitarian law and the rules governing armed conflict. While the most important responsibility of the parties to the conflict is to comply with the IHL principles of limitation, necessity, proportionality, distinction, humane behavior and non-discrimination, the findings of this report show that the Taliban and security forces are violating these principles and other international humanitarian laws.
1. Violation of the Principles and Rules of International Humanitarian Law in Treatment of Civilians
International humanitarian law and the rules of armed conflict strictly prohibit the killing and wounding of civilians. Therefore, none of the parties to the conflict is allowed to use methods or actions that would harm civilians. Nevertheless, the findings of the Independent Human Rights Commission show that in the first 15 days of Saratan, 1400 alone, 1,250 people were killed and wounded (191 were killed and 1,059 were wounded) in the ongoing armed conflict in the country. According to the statistics, 148 men, 14 women, and 29 children were killed, and 548 men, 117 women, and 394 children were injured.
2. Forced Displacement and Violation of the Principle of Non-discrimination
One of the most important principles of international humanitarian law is humane treatment without discrimination, according to which all individuals, regardless of their gender, nationality, race, religion or political beliefs deserve to be treated humanely; that is, to have their human dignity respected. Therefore, no individual, especially civilians, should be adversely treated by hostile parties on the basis of their ethnicity, language, religion or political beliefs.
According to the AIHRC, the Taliban forcibly evacuated 400 Badakhshani families from Bagh-e-Sherkat area of Kunduz province between the 1st and 4th of Saratan 1400 (June 22 to June 25, 2021), then set fire to their homes and plundered their belongings. A resident of the area told AIHRC: “Because of our ethnicity, after beating and killing three members of our ethnic group, Taliban set fire to our house and forcibly evicted us from our homes and looted our belongings while insulting, humiliating, and torturing us.”
Another displaced man from the Bagh-e-Sherkat area of Kunduz province said in an interview with Commission that the Taliban had thrown a hand grenade in his drinking water well so that no one could use it. “Our only crime was providing bread and water for security forces in a state of war and siege,” he added. There were not only Tajiks in Badakhshan, but also Pashtuns and Uzbeks in the Bagh-e-Sherkat area, who also provided food and water to the security forces, but the Taliban killed only members of the Tajik ethnic group and forced them to flee from the area in humiliation, insult, fear and intimidation.
3. Destruction and Pillage of Civilian Property and Public Facilities
Public utilities and property belonging to civilians should not be intentionally destroyed or looted. International humanitarian law emphasizes the need to avoid this behavior and obliges the warring parties not to harm public facilities and the property of civilians. However, the AIHRC monitoring reports indicate that civilians have been harmed during the armed conflict in the country and their property has been deliberately destroyed or looted by the Taliban. One of the IDPs in Sartagab village of Pato district of Daikundi province told the Commission:
“The Taliban seized Sartagab, set fire to residential houses and farms. They blew up 13 residential houses (Qalas), set fire to our harvests, and looted the property in our shops. The people have no hope of returning to their area and are asking the government to cooperate.”
In addition, the Taliban attacked the website of Herat province in Islam Qala and looted the facilities in the center. A senior member of a state-owned company told the Commission that on Saratan 12, 1400 (July 3, 2021), Taliban armed men looted the center's internet equipment, including 24,000 batteries.
Also, the Taliban destroyed the Rozanak railway station and related facilities on 15/4/1400 (July 6, 2021). This railway station is located next to the Herat-Islam-Qala road in Ghorian district.
4. Attack on Civilians
The distinction between military and civilian targets, and thus military and civilian population, is an important principle of international humanitarian law, according to which neither party to the conflict should resort to blind and aimless attacks that harm civilians or civilian and public benefit.
On 17/4/1400 (July 8, 2021), four civilians were wounded in Pashakhani village of Pashtun Kot district of Faryab province. A relative of the victim told the Commission: “At around 4 am on 17/4/1400 (July 8, 2021), when people were heading to the mosque to pray, the armed Taliban had taken refuge in the mosque for fear of airstrikes; at that moment airstrike carried out by security forces injured four worshipers.
A member of the Faryab Provincial Council told AIHRC: “During the past two weeks, civilians have suffered casualties and financial losses during armed clashes between government forces and the Taliban; as a result of airstrikes by security forces in the village, six members of a family were killed and two others were injured in Khaniqa village of Andkhoy district of Faryab province.”
Also, on 9/4/1400 (June 30, 2021), 11 members of a family and 6 other families were killed and wounded, including six children and two women, resulting from airstrikes by security forces in Salavat village of Panjwai district of Kandahar province. One woman and seven other children were injured in the incident.
B) Restrictions on Citizens' Freedoms and the Deterioration of Human Rights Situation
Following the escalation of violence in the country, the human rights situation has faced more serious challenges and concerns during the first 15 days of Saratan 1400 (June 22 to July 6, 2021). According to AIHRC, access to fundamental human rights and freedoms have been restricted in many provinces. While widespread displacement of people continues in many parts of the country, limited access to health care, rising poverty, and economic concerns are among the most critical factors indicating a worsening of the human rights situation.
1. Imposing Restrictions on Women's Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
According to the AIHRC's findings, after seizing control of districts in several provinces, including Faryab, Kunduz, Badakhshan, and Takhar, the Taliban imposed restrictions that violate human rights standards and applicable laws, such as prohibiting women from leaving the house without a hijab and legal Mahram (close male family member), closure of girls' schools and mixed schools, banning health services for women without Maharam, banning the use of television, forcing teachers and students to wear turbans and grow beards. These restrictions have caused serious concerns to citizens of the country. A resident of Shirin Tagab district in Faryab province said to AIHRC: “Following the Taliban's complete takeover of Shirin Tagab district, members of the group imposed a number of restrictions on women and all doctors, rickshaw drivers, and shopkeepers, telling them that they would be punished if they cooperated with women without a Muharram.”
In addition, the Taliban in Kishm, Baharak, Jurm, Argo, Khash, Sheghnan, and Ishkashim districts have issued numerous letters to women informing them that they are not allowed to go outside without a Maharam. Young people should grow beards and attend congregational prayers. The group has sent letters to mosques urging families with two or three children to send one of them in the ranks of the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate, and the people should provide Oshr and zakat to the Taliban as soon as possible.
2. Increased Displacement
According to the findings AIHRC, over the past 15 days (June 22 to July 6, 2021), 78,911 families have been displaced from different districts to provincial capitals and relatively safe parts of the country as a result of the ongoing war and violence. A number of these families are supported by government and non-governmental organizations and have received food aid, but many of them are in poor living and economic conditions. However, the spread of Covid-19, limited access to health services, and the lack of shelter and basic facilities, extremely hot weather have made the lives of IDPs difficult.
3. Targeted killings
Targeted killings of ethnic influential, religious scholars, government officials, journalists, human rights defenders, and women have continued in various provinces, most notably in Kandahar, Herat, and Nangarhar. During the first 15 days of Saratan (June 22 to July 6, 2021), 33 people (31 men and 2 women) were killed, and two others (one man and one woman) were injured in Kandahar province alone, owing to their roles and social standing. The perpetrators of these incidents are not known and the victims are all civilians.
4. Other Conflict-related Challenges and Issues Affecting the Human Rights Situation
According to the findings of AIHRC, the country's ongoing war and violence have eclipsed several aspects of the human rights situation, creating severe problems and concerns. During the first 15 days of this month (June 22 to July 6, 2021), the right to freedom of movement and shelter, the right to health care, the right to work, the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living were all restricted.
Finally, the AIHRC, with a strong emphasis on the legal obligations of the warring parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights values, urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to declare a countrywide ceasefire in honor of Eid Al Adha and stop fighting.
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