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Afghanistan’s minorities challenge transitional government to secure rights

15 March 2004

The situation of numerous minorities in Afghanistan has little improved following the collapse of the Taliban regime and the implementation of the Bonn Agreements for transitional administration, and much needs to be done to protect and promote their rights. These are the conclusions of the Afghan Professional Alliance for Minority Rights (APAMR), which highlighted a history of minority rights violation against minorities including Hindus and Shia Muslims under years of warlords and oppressive regimes, the legacy of which continues to this day.

Afghan society has many minority communities, which are distinguished by their own ethnic, linguistic or religious identities and include Hindu, Shia, Ismaeelia, Ozbek and Turkman communities. Highlighting the problems faced by minority communities, Mr Sayed Amanullaha Abdali of the APAMR stated that many of the Shia living in Kabul still lack adequate shelter in areas of the city destroyed after 1992 under the Rabbani regime. This regime refused to recognize the Shia as an official religious group and wished to remove them from political structures. Many families still lack access to basic service provisions, water, electricity and health care, despite the presence of many international NGOs, and are provided with inadequate funds to begin rebuilding their homes.

Under the Taliban regime minorities suffered further and many fled the country to Pakistan or Iran to avoid severe discrimination and brutal violation of their rights including widespread killing and the destruction of their houses and farms. According to APAMR, a policy of impunity is allowing some of the Taliban and other warlords responsible for violations to be accepted into the Transitional Islamic Government rather than facing prosecution for their crimes. The Afghan government signed and ratified the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court, but no one who committed war crimes before the ratification of this Statute can be punished and no one has been referred to that international court.

In a series of recommendations aimed at the Transitional Islamic Government of Afghanistan, APAMR called for the punishment of all commanders or warlords who committed war crimes based on article 1 CPPCG, the Afghan penal code and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. They further urged the establishment of practical facilities for minorities to perform their religious ceremonies based on article 2 of the new Afghan constitution and the creation of policies to ensure a peaceful, fair and equitable life for all minorities based on article 6 the new constriction. Restitution of properties belonging to minorities should also be a priority, based on article 40 of the new constitution.

Notes for editors

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