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Massacre and Mass Rape in Afshar (February 10-11, 1993)

Afghanistan Justice Project
Saturday 11 February 2012

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Summary Executions and Disappearances

As noted above, the parties to the conflict were bound by Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits summary executions, torture and hostage taking. Witnesses interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project stated that a group of Hizb-i Wahdat soldiers was taken prisoner from Wahdat headquarters at the Social Science Institute by Ittihad-i Islami forces on February 11. In addition to these, a large number of civilian men and suspected Wahdat militants were arrested from the Afshar area after Ittihad captured it. The number taken is not known. One group of Hazara prisoners held by Ittihad-i Islami was subsequently used by the Ittihad commanders to undertake burial of the dead from the Afshar operation, after one week.

This group of witnesses has reported that their relatives were among the civilian and military prisoners taken by Ittihad who subsequently disappeared and are believed to have been summarily executed by Ittihad forces. The Afghanistan Justice Project has been able to obtain only a few of the names of the victims. Some other men were taken from their homes.

Witness A told the Afghanistan Justice Project that he and his family had tried to escape, but the rocketing and shelling was too intense. “We ran to my mother-in-law’s house and hid there. Other people told us that people were being killed on the roads. Eventually a few other families joined us. We could hear the radios of some of the Sayyaf people and they were being warned not to start fighting over the loot. The armed men – who were from Sayyaf and from Jamiat – were looting all the houses. Sayyaf’s people spoke Pushto; Jamiat spoke Dari. I sent my family to another place and I stayed at the house. At about 11:00 a.m. a commander named Izatullah (from Ittihad) came to the house with about ten other armed men. I had left the door open hoping the militias would think the house empty. They came in and beat me and took me to Qargha river where I was put into a container with about 60-65 men. It was very crowded.
Sometimes some men were taken out and made to do work, like chop wood.” After a week the prisoners were all told how much they would have to pay to be released. The witness was told he would have to pay $5000. He told them he did not have that much money, but friends in Paghman came and paid for his release.
Witness B told the Afghanistan Justice Project that Ittihad-i Islami troops had beaten her and arrested her unarmed husband from their residence in Afshar, and that he was still accounted for.
Witness C told the Afghanistan Justice Project that the soldiers searched the houses looking for men. “I was taken to Paghman. At night I was kept in a container; during the day I and other 10-20 men were made to dig trenches. There were lots of containers. At night some men would be taken out and not come back. We could hear shots and we assumed the men had been killed. I think some were buried in the trenches. I finally escaped by hiding in the river under a bridge. I left and went to Quetta.”
Witness M. told the Afghanistan Justice Project that at 7:.00 in the morning, when Ittihad-i Islami captured Afshar, a group of armed men entered her residential compound, and detained S., her husband. They released him after 45 days. He had been beaten so severely his hearing had been permanently damaged and he was deaf. According to his wife, he also had difficulty recognizing people. After he was detained, a second group of 10-15 Ittihad soldiers came to the house between 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. They claimed that they were looking for Wahdat forces, they grabbed M.’s son by the arm. “My son was about 11 years old. They held him and asked where his father was. They aimed their guns at him and I threw myself over him. I was shot in the hand and leg but he was shot five times. He died.” The soldiers then took the family belongings and left.
Witness K, 75 years old, stated that troops affiliated to Sayyaf abducted him from Sar-i Jui, Afshar on the day of the Afshar operation, February 11. He was one of a group of seven men who were taken prisoner, and beaten severely and made to act as porters to help carry goods being looted from Afshar. The Ittihad troops then took him to Company (a Sayyaf-controlled area) on that day and held him there for two months. The commander who captured him was Ghulam Rasool, affiliated to Sayyaf. He stated that after that he spent two months in Shakar Darra as a prisoner of Anwar Dangar, and then three months in Farzah with Commandant Haneef. He witnessed the troops summarily executing one of his relatives, Qambar Zohar.

Witness G was briefly arrested and beaten unconscious by Ittehad troops on the first day of the operation. When he returned to the area later he removed two bodies from his well, and estimates that he saw 30-35 bodies himself while fleeing the area (including a decapitated head left in a window).

Abdullah Khan, of Ghazni Province, 67 years old, was arrested from Afshar by Commander Aziz Banjar, a Sayyaf commander. The rest of the family had fled to Taimani during the main military operation. Abdullah Khan had stayed on in Afshar to guard the household goods. However, all household goods were stolen during the operation and the house was destroyed. The family has have been unable to trace Abdullah Khan and so he remains missing.

Witness Sh. told the Afghanistan Justice Project that when Ittihad forces entered her house, they beat to death her father inside the compound. They then stole all household belongings.

Rape by Ittihad Forces

During the Afshar operation, Sayyaf’s Ittihad-i Islami forces used rape and other assaults on civilians to drive the civilian population from the area. The Afghanistan Justice Project interviewed many witnesses who described incidents of rape by Ittihad forces during the Afshar operation. Witness M. (see statement above) was injured in the hand and leg when Ittihad soldiers shot her son. She stated: “While I was still bleeding they raped me.” She stated that three soldiers held her down while the fourth raped her in the basement of her own house. Several other women had also taken shelter in M.’s house: a neighbor, Z., and her two daughters, and another woman, R. The Ittihad troops raped Z.’s two daughters, ages 14 and 16, and the woman, R. The soldiers took them by turn down to the basement to carry out the rape. One of Z.’s daughters was injured by a bayonet when she attempted to resist.

Another witness, S., stated that armed men had burst into her house at Afshar-Silo on the second day of the Afshar operation. They beat and raped her and her sister in their house and looted the contents.
Witness Sh. stated that after capturing Afshar, Ittehad-i Islami troops forcibly entered her house at 7:00 a.m. They raped four girls in their residential compound, including Sh. her sister, age 14 years, and two others.

There were many other reports of rape; the numbers of women raped is not known. Residents of Afshar did not return until after 2001. As of mid-2005, the area remains largely flattened, although some former residents have returned to the ruins of their former homes.

Source: The Afghanistan Justice Project

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