Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Vancouver connection

Lately, most references to violence and Vancouver involve street gangs. However, this time the accused perp is the University of British Columbia's own Tooryalai Wesa, recently appointed governor of his native Kandahar province:

Afghanistan's election gets rough, and it hasn't even started
By Brian Hutchinson in Kandahar

MAY 26 (Canwest) ... On Sunday, prominent local journalist Mohammad Yar lodged a complaint with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission after receiving a "politically motivated" beating from gun-toting assailants in Kandahar City.

The beating took place Thursday in broad daylight and followed a heated exchange between Yar and the city's mayor, Ghulam Haider Hamidi. The two men clashed at a poetry festival held inside the Governor of Kandahar's official guest house, where Yar had attempted to distribute a biography of Afghanistan's former finance minister, Ashraf Ghani...

Karzai appointed Hamidi as mayor two years ago...

Kandahar's mayor took issue with Yar and said he was distributing illegal campaign material. The mayor later went on national television and repeated the allegation.

Yar countered the material in question was not illegal. He said it was strictly biographical and did not mention Ghani's fledgling campaign...

After his run-in with the mayor, Yar was escorted to a separate room where, he alleges, Afghan intelligence officials questioned him.

He was then "ordered out of the governor's guest house. They told me that they were acting on orders from the governor himself." Kandahar's governor is Tooryalai Wesa, a dual Afghan-Canadian citizen who Karzai appointed last year. He was travelling to his second home in Vancouver Monday and could not be reached for comment.

[An official in the governor's office said] that Wesa did not attend the poetry festival. He was in meetings at the time of the alleged incident, the official said.

After his run-in with the mayor, things got worse for Yar.

"I left the guest house with about 10 friends," he recalled Monday.

"We walked outside on the street for about 30 metres when three armed guys in civilian clothes came up to us. They had pistols in their hands. They started hitting me," said Yar, who suffers from polio and does not have the use of one of his legs.

He uses crutches to move about. He said his assailants pushed him to the ground and then started beating him with his crutches. The beating lasted seven to 10 minutes, he alleged, until both crutches were broken.

"These men threatened my friends with their pistols. No one could help me," said Yar.

During the beating, he said, an unmarked police vehicle pulled alongside him. Several uniformed officers asked why he was being hit.

Yar's assailants said nothing, and continued landing blows. The officers sat in their vehicle and watched, according to Yar. They did not intervene... (link)

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