‘Don’t trample on war victims’ rights in peace talks’


BALKH: War victims and organizations assisting war-affected people have voiced concern that war victims’ rights are being denied to them in the ongoing peace talks, saying their prerogative for seeking justice should be taken into consideration.

The views were expressed in a conference in Mazar-e-Sharif city, the capital of northern Balkh province, on Monday. The conference was organized by Victims-Centric National Peace Network and attended by several officials of human rights organs, civil society activists and families of war victims.

In-charge of the Human Rights and Democracy Organization, Mohammad Hussain, said that the demands of the Afghan public should be taken into account in the ongoing peace talks.

He said that the people’s freedoms and rights gained over the past two decades should also be protected in negotiations. “The rights of war victims should not be trampled on in the peace talks,” he added.

Mohammad Amin, head of the Victims-Centric National Peace Network in the north, also held similar views, saying that the country was passing through a decisive phase as the Afghan public waited for the outcome of peace talks.

Amin said that Afghan people had rendered huge sacrifices over the last four decades of war; thus, there should be a determined and clarified position for war victims in the peace negotiations.

Farzana, (assumed name), a woman who lost her house in war six months ago in Andkhoi district of Faryab province, now lives in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Talking to the conference, she said that her house was destroyed in a fight between the Taliban and the Afghan forces that left her miserable. “Now, we neither have a house nor a job; we live with many problems,” she lamented.

Farzana said that she could not return to her own area due to conflicts, and she was forced to live in her current residence, enduring many troubles.

She is not alone. Many other families have also faced a similar fate and have been displaced to Mazar-e-Sharif city.

Qazi Sayed Mohammad Samay, head of the Independent Human Rights Commission in the north, expressed concern over the spike in insecurity levels across the region and asked for assistance for war-ravaged people.

“The war has denied people their legal rights,” he said, regretting that conflicts took their toll on ordinary people unabatedly.

He added that 260 people have been killed and wounded in Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh and Samangan provinces in conflicts since March. Samay said that 80 of these people were killed and 180 others injured.

More than 20,000 families have been displaced from the four northern provinces to Mazar-e-Sharif, following recent unrest in the region, he stated, adding that the displaced families were living in a dire situation as they were deprived of health and education services, besides suffering from poverty.

This comes as, in addition to the northern provinces, the conflict is going on in nearly the whole country, causing substantial human and financial losses.

A day earlier, many people were killed and injured, and several families were forced to leave their homes due to clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces on the outskirts of the capital of Helmand province and its districts.