Afghanistan:Withheld UN report reveals Karzai's involvement in appointment of rapists, war criminals
London -- Monday June 12, 2006
UN report accuses Afghan MPs of torture and massacres
· Publication delayed by fears over former warlords
· Diplomats unhappy over police chief appointments
Declan Walsh in Kabul
A controversial UN report that has been shelved for 18 months names and shames leading Afghan politicians and officials accused of orchestrating massacres, torture, mass rape and other war crimes.
The 220-page report by the UN high commissioner for human rights, which the Guardian has obtained, details atrocities committed by communist, mujahideen, Soviet and Taliban fighters over 23 years of conflict. Originally scheduled for release in January 2005, the report's publication has been delayed repeatedly due to sensitivities over identifying former warlords still in positions of power.
"The UN has been intimidated. It is afraid to rock the boat because of these guys," said Sam Zarifi of Human Rights Watch. "But the boat is taking on water and they are going to pull it down."
Debate over the role of former warlords has grown more heated since anti-foreigner riots rocked Kabul two weeks ago, casting clouds over the $12bn (£6.5bn) western-funded reconstruction effort. European diplomats are angered that days after the riots President Hamid Karzai appointed 13 former commanders with links to drugs smuggling, organised crime and illegal militas to senior positions in the police force. The names were inserted at the last minute into a list of 86 police chiefs that had been selected by US, German and Afghan officers as part of a drive to professionalise the corrupt force.
The most controversial appointment is that of the new Kabul police chief, Amanullah Guzar. Ranked 202 in a list of 270 candidates, Mr Guzar was appointed by Mr Karzai in place of a candidate ranked 12th. Documents circulating among western diplomats allegedly link him to extortion, land grabbing and the kidnapping of three UN workers in late 2004. Speaking at Kabul police headquarters, Mr Guzar said: "President Karzai appointed me and he knows all about my past. Let anyone with allegations bring them to court."
A European official said the 13 appointments had strained Mr Karzai's relationship with foreign donors and further eroded his credibility with ordinary Afghans. "This is not acceptable to us. If we let people who have committed human rights abuses and economic crimes slip through, Afghans are going to start asking what we are doing here," he said.
Jawed Ludin, Mr Karzai's chief of staff, said the 13 names were added to ensure balance. "It's very sensitive. Building institutions should not be seen as sidelining any sector of society, especially the mujahideen," he said.
Another government official said: "Keeping mujahideen commanders out in the cold is not a good strategy because it turns them into an anti-state element." Mujahideen, communist and Taliban leaders feature prominently in the UN "mapping" report. Based on press reports and human rights testimony, it presents little new information but offers the first comprehensive survey of wartime atrocities between 1978 and 2001.
According to the report one commander testified that before the Afshar massacre of Shia civilians in 1993, jihadi leader Abdul Rasool Sayyaf told his officers: "Don't leave anyone alive - kill all of them." During the subsequent killing, according to the report: "One eyewitness reported ... he had seen an elderly Shia man nailed to a tree and then shot in the head." Mr Sayyaf is now an extremist MP who leads a pro-Karzai faction in parliament.
Co-author Patricia Gossman said the report was "not a bill of indictment" but a "truth telling" exercise to help Afghans confront their past. She said she was "bewildered" by the delays in publishing. "It sends the wrong signals. This is something Afghans wanted to see and it's really disappointing we couldn't live up to that."
A UN spokesman, Aleem Siddique, said the report had been presented to the Afghan government and may be released within a month. "We need to ensure it is published at an appropriate time," he said.
In a separate development yesterday the Afghan government said it was considering creating units of armed tribesmen to help protect areas from Taliban fighters. In southern Helmand province, former governor Sher Muhammad Akhundzada says he has enlisted several hundred tribesmen. "I have raised 500 people and am working on their registration. The finance ministry pays them $200 a month," he told Reuters.