Monday, July 16, 2007

On the ground in Afghanistan (Pt 1)

As mentioned last week on this blog, you can find on-the-ground dispatches from Afghanistan courtesy of the Afghan-Canada Research Group at this link (note: the link has changed since we linked to it last week). Mike Skinner has been writing about his experiences there; here, we will excerpt them. (You can read an introduction to the efforts of Mike and the others here.)

From Skinner's June 14 dispatch:

[A report by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission] documents how the residents of a home were awakened by banging on their door accompanied by demands that they open the door. Thinking this was a burglary one of the residents went to the roof and was shot at.

The door of the home was blown out by explosives – a large group of Afghani soldiers accompanied by two American commanders entered the home zip-locked the hands of the men and placed hoods over their heads. One of the men was booby-trapped by having his hands connected to an explosive charge. Meanwhile the women were searched by the male soldiers.

The contents of the home were destroyed including a computer most of the windows were broken and $600 in cash went missing. As the report states, only when the raiding party discovered documents that identified some of the residents as United Nations staff and staff of the AIHRC were the men released and "told to report to a nearby international military base to receive damages".

At the base, the residents were offered $100 in compensation and given an explanation that the Americans involved were contractors and not regular military forces. When the victims refused this settlement on the grounds it was insufficient compensation, the presiding NATO official left the room and "the remaining Afghan forces threatened the victim that if he proceeded with this complaint he would be 'beaten and thrown into jail'".

Hamayon and I are left wondering what further events would have transpired had the victims been ordinary people and not people of some importance working for the UN and AIHRC?

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