In addition to contending with increasing insecurity from Taliban forces and local militias, Septembers elections for the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Councils present a complicated logistical exercise, given the number of candidates, districts, and provinces. In response to these problemsall of them more difficult than during last years presidential electionssome changes have been adopted based on lessons learned from the 2004 elections. These include the establishment of an official complaints body, the Election Complaints Commission (ECC). Many voters and election workers now have the experience of one election behind them, and civic educators are able to build on the growing levels of voter awareness, including the idea of a secret ballot and addressing interference by polling officials on election day. This year, more domestic and international observers will be present to monitor the elections, although security problems limit the reach of international observers in particular.20
In the final candidate list, although 25 percent of seats are reserved for women, female candidates represent about 12 percent of the candidates for the Wolesi Jirga (328 out of 2707) and 8 percent of the candidates for Provincial Councils (247 out of 3025).21 In the period after the deadline for submitting candidate nominations and the finalization of the candidate lists in July, 281 potential candidates withdrew and 17 were excluded.22 Fifty-one of the withdrawals were women, a disproportionately high number given the relatively low number of candidates. Some women cited procedural issues for their withdrawals, such as relatives who worked in the election commission or their unwillingness to step down from current jobs. But as will be discussed in more detail later, many women also voiced concern about security threats, barriers to campaigning in rural areas, and financial constraints.
The numbers of women candidates for Provincial Councils is especially low, suggesting that security in provincial centers falls far short of the relative safety slowly being established for women in the national arena. Women delegates in provincial capitals will have to work more closely with local-level elders and commanders who may reject womens political participation. One womens rights activist explained:
For the Wolesi Jirga, the center of activities is in Kabul. For the Provincial Councils, the center of activities is in the provinces. Women dont feel secure in the provinces. Also, the role of delegates in the Provincial Councils is not clear yet. What are their main duties? Is it part-time, full-time, paid, a decision-making role, advisory capacity, its not clear to a lot of people.23
Regulations on the responsibilities of delegates in Provincial Councils have yet to be finalized by the government.
There are so few women candidates for the Provincial Councils in Zabul, Uruzgan, and Nangarhar provinces, that five seats reserved for women will remain empty. A woman who chose to be a candidate for a Provincial Council said, We need security even after we win. Because we are not parliament candidates, we dont go to Kabul. We have to stay here with all commanders in the Provincial Council, so we need security.24
High numbers of candidates in this election are running as independents, and this is especially true of women. Many of the women interviewed by Human Rights Watch associated political parties with military factions with blood on their hands and notorious warlords as their leaders. 25 A significant issue is the lack of financial resources that many independent women candidates suffer in comparison to men.26 Afghan women still struggle to participate in the labor force, and are often concentrated in low-paying jobs. Many women candidates are teachers with modest salaries. Civic educators and election trainers noted that some women have registered as independents although they are in fact backed by political parties and organizations.27 They have focused their efforts on empowering these women to make their own decisions rather than being pawns of political parties where they are excluded from decision-making roles.
The exclusion of women from prominent positions in powerful political parties will undermine Afghan womens equal participation in Afghanistans developing political system. Few political parties made systematic efforts to recruit women as candidates. An international trainer working on Afghan womens political participation said:
One of the main ways that the number of women in parliament in other countries has increased has been through the increase of women in parties. Almost all the Afghan women interested in nominating themselves want to be independent . Women in political parties are like window dressing, the [party leaders] put them in charge of womens sections which are almost just like NGOs with literacy and tailoring programs.28
Afghan women and international donors observed that several political parties are only using women to fulfill the quotas and are not committed to creating conditions for women to participate equally in party structures or to occupy positions of responsibility. One woman described to us how she was selected by her political party in 2004 to stand for political office: unexpectedly, they approached her and said, We chose you. She recounted, The elders said, you dont talk, say yes. I cant [reject] what the elders say, they are mujahid. I said yes.29 A woman providing candidate training and awareness programs said that, We are telling women to be decision-makers, dont be used. The political parties are including them as members, but not in decision-making. They are using women only as a symbol. This is very painful for us.30
Another woman said that several different political parties had invited her to work with them, mostly ethnic parties. She went to some of the meetings and said, They wrote something and gave it to me and told me to read it out loud [at a program]. The executive board was all men. I cant work like that. I see they dont treat women as equals. Some women were there but they were not thinking independently.31
In testament to Afghan womens commitment and interest in playing a greater role in shaping the countrys future, an increasing number of women have braved social barriers and physical threats to take part in the political process. Nevertheless, these barriers have inhibited Afghan women from achieving the level of political education and freedom of movement necessary for participating fully in this years elections.
This year, many previously unregistered women registered to vote, including in areas that showed dismal female participation in 2004. Women comprised many of the new registered voters in Paktia (56%), Paktika (59.4%), Uruzgan (51%), and Ghazni (48.8%). Among the successes cited by the Joint Election Management Body (JEMB) is Ajrestan district of Ghazni province, where no women registered last year and where 15,442 women registered this year.32
Election officials are struggling, as they did last year, to recruit adequate numbers of female workers to staff womens polling sites on election day. Security threats, limited education opportunities for women and girls, and social restrictions on womens travel have hampered recruitment. A JEMB official said, In Nuristan and Kunar, it is difficult for women to work, they are not allowed. In Zabul, there are [almost] no women staff. Paktia, Khost, it is difficult to work. If they cannot find women, they will have to recruit men.33 One election official noted that in some provinces, there were, no girls schools until two years ago . It is hard to get educated women as district field coordinators, which requires women to be able to read. In most cases we have put in enormous effort. In some cases, we just couldnt find women who can read. [For the issue of womens polling sites,] we had to go to local shuras (councils) and say, please allow women to go to polling stations staffed by men.34
The south and east of the country remain the most insecure areas for both women and men. In these areas, women will face particular difficulties to campaign freely and even to vote. This difficulty reflects the strongly chauvinistic, conservative culture of these areas, as well as the growing activity of religious extremist forces, many of them aligned with the Taliban, which oppose any role for women in public life. One election worker said that, In Zabul and Nuristan a lot of women cant be hired [as poll workers] or vote. There are very few women candidates in those provinces. That is a concern. In such provinces, in such an environment, it is very clear, women will not be allowed to vote.35
Interviewees repeatedly brought up womens lack of awareness about parliament, the Provincial Councils, and how to participate as voters and candidates. Conducting civic education campaigns among rural women is particularly difficult given restrictions on their freedom of movement, long travel distances to awareness programs, and opposition by some womens families. Even women candidates may have less regular contact with the media and election officials, and therefore less information about election rules and procedures. An election official said that women candidates had woefully little information. Women candidates didnt know about the ECC [Election Complaints Commission] or the complaints procedure.36 Some of the candidates interviewed by Human Rights Watch suggested the establishment of an official complaints office, unaware that such a mechanism has already been created. A woman working for a womens rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) said, We need more time for awareness campaigns. There is very little information to candidates . It started two to three months back, but should have started one year back. In the districts, women have not been beneficiaries [of civic education].37
Unfortunately, a woman being threatened is something normal in Afghanistan, nobody takes it really seriously.
─Woman Wolesi Jirga candidate for Takhar province, Kabul, August 3, 2005
The security situation has deteriorated in Afghanistan in the last six months, including high-profile cases of social and political violence against women. These include the killing of three women in Baghlan province with a note left on their bodies warning women against working for NGOs, the kidnapping of a female international aid worker who assisted war widows, and the murder of a woman in Badakshan province accused of adultery.38 On August 10, 2005, a peasant woman in Zabul province was dragged out of her house and executed by the Taliban, who accused her of being an American spy.39 The shooting raised fears about increased targeting of women.
There are significant differences in the nature and intensity of security threats throughout the country. In the south and southeast of the country, most insecurity is caused by forces allied with the Taliban, who have vigorously reemerged to disrupt the election process, including attacks on voter registration sites and election workers. In the east and north of the country, forces of local militias and armed factions seek to assert their control over regional candidates and, ultimately, the national parliament and Provincial Councils. These forces use their arms for political power, and often, control over local crime, smuggling, and Afghanistans surging poppy production to intimidate their political opposition. In the northeast, not only social conservatism, but also physical terrain and distance present obstacles. Candidates often have to walk for days to reach election centers, a more significant barrier for women compared to men. Women in western Herat province describe a more open environment after the former governor Ismael Khan was removed, but intimidation by local commanders remains a concern especially in rural areas.
Election-related violence and intimidation have already begun to take place. On June 3, a male civic educator was murdered by the Taliban in Uruzgan province,40 and on July 20, gunmen killed a male civic educator in Paktika province. Voter registration centers were also attacked in Paktika, Khost, Uruzgan, and Daikundi provinces.41 Many candidates fear to report intimidation and investigators also face difficulties in confirming the actual events and motives. A dilemma for women is they often do not know how far they can push social norms and their political freedoms without incurring retaliation. Cases of threats and intimidation include:
Although security remains a problem for both men and women candidates, women face extra risks. One female candidate told Human Rights Watch, Women have more security problems than men. Women cant go out alone. Women can be raped.46 An attack against any women candidate is highly symbolic and therefore can increase fear among all women candidates. Another candidate noted said, Yes, women have more security problems. Coming out of your home just by yourself is thought a sin. Women are threatened, humiliated and men candidates say bad things about them. Women feel insecure.47
Men can do things that are risky for women, for example, posting their photograph on campaign flyers and posters. A woman candidate in Kandahar told Human Rights Watch, One main problem for all women is that they are afraid. Wearing burqas, it is very hard to campaign. Women are afraid of putting their pictures on flyers. Women candidates have lots of problems.48 Many women, in choosing to continue their candidacies and to campaign, have decided to take these risks. A candidate from Kandahar said, I have to print my pictures, so that people know me. I know it is dangerous, I have no other way.49
The threat of security problems can have almost as profound an impact on campaigning and voting as actual cases of violence. One candidate in Kunduz said, Security should be taken care of. If something happens, even the voice of a gun can prevent women from voting. Not only women but everybody might get frightened.50 Another candidate said, I didnt have any direct problems yet but I have told UNAMA that I am worried. Every day that I get out of my house I am afraid, I feel that the car with high speed is coming to kill me, I am afraid of every small sign.51
Women in the southern and eastern parts of the country said they were scared both by warlords and insurgents. A woman candidate from Nangarhar province said, I am staying in an old house in the city now, because I am afraid Al Qaeda will find my place.52 A woman candidate in Kandahar said, Our security is threatened both by warlords and Al Qaeda. The security condition should get better in districts . I suggest that government should increase security forces in districts.53
Human rights activists, NGO workers, and ordinary women reiterate that overall security conditions are critical to enable an atmosphere where women can freely participate in public life. Insecurity has a disproportionate effect on women. For example, in the 2004 presidential elections, womens voter registration and turnout rates fell far behind mens in the regions with the worst security. These areas are also those which hold the most conservative attitudes toward women, creating a formidable challenge to women stepping outside of traditional roles. Human Rights Watch interviewed many women who were frustrated by the inadequate presence of peacekeeping troops, the slow pace of disarmament, and the continued international support for warlords who cooperate in counter-insurgency activities. One independent candidate from Herat said:
I don't have recommendations for the international community, because the international community stands besides warlords not us, not people. Two years ago we were really hopeful, now people have lost their hope. Poor people get poorer and rich people get richer. The international community could do other things to stop terrorism. If they build hospitals, roads, and schools for people, people wouldn't let any terrorist destroy it. The international community supported warlords and weakened people.54
In addition to social and cultural barriers to womens participation in the political sphere, the general climate of insecurity and political intimidation throughout Afghanistan deterred many women who would otherwise be qualified and prepared to run for office. The election commission did not require potential candidates to give a reason for withdrawing their nominations, but one woman told Human Rights Watch that she withdrew her nomination as a candidate because she would have to step down from her current job and because traveling to remote areas is not very safe.55 One activist said that for her region, According to our information, some of the women withdrew because their families werent willing for them to run. Two to three for economic reasons, and some of them, and I got this from the words of others, because of threats.56
While the Taliban seek to disrupt the elections and warlords to dominate them, they are similar in that their tactics of violence and intimidation can only be controlled through the imposition of the rule of lawwhich, in Afghanistan, requires cooperation of international troops, including the approximately 18,000 U.S. troops (whose mandate is to fight the Taliban, not to act as peacekeepers) and nearly 8,000 members of the NATO-led ISAF. This small forces ability to improve security conditions throughout Afghanistan has been hampered by a narrow mandate, often focusing on force-protection rather than defending civil society, and a narrow geographic range. Generally, where ISAF troops have been operating, they have improved the security situation, but the country as a whole remains wracked by insecurity. Despite ISAFs efforts, not enough has changed to create a secure environment for the September 2005 elections.
I am not sure the elections will be fair. Before I thought that they might be, but now that warlords are back on the candidate list, it is hard to be hopeful. Commanders have money, they buy votes, they give promises to people, and most importantly they have power and influence. This is still the rule of the gun. I wish the elections could happen after total disarmament.
─Woman Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kunduz, August 9, 2005
The final candidate list includes many commanders with links to illegal armed groups and individuals associated with perpetrators of grave human rights abuses, including womens rights abuses. Unlike groups aligned with the Taliban, many such commanders have official government positions or do not actively oppose the central government of Afghanistan. However, they are keen to maintain and even expand their existing dominance through armed force. As one woman candidate told Human Rights Watch, I feel frightened. I am not afraid of Al Qaeda, I am afraid of commanders who are candidates.57 A fifty-year-old female teacher running for parliament said, Their hands are dirty with people's blood. They are like a thorn in the hearts of people.58
The dominance of warlords in many parts of the country is in large part a legacy of the initial policy of the United States in the war against the Taliban, when U.S. forces actively supported regional militias regardless of their abusive records. This legacy, while tempered over the last year, continues to present a significant threat to security, justice, and human rights in Afghanistan. Many commanders and gunmen retain important and influential government posts. The country still grapples with transitional justice issues. Recent reports issued by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the Afghanistan Justice Project, and Human Rights Watch have outlined war crimes committed in Afghanistans twenty-five years of war by these commanders and have called for mechanisms to seek accountability for past abuses.59
Human Rights Watch interviewed several women who named specific commanders who were linked to past war crimes or who would intimidate other candidates in their provinces.60 Independent women candidates in particular felt they had the least protection against intimidation from warlords. A woman candidate in northeast Afghanistan reported the following case of intimidation by a prominent commander:
On July 15, his men came to destroy our yard wall . Two days later, I was alone at home when men entered my house . They didnt say anything and they started throwing stones at me. Later, they beat me up with sticks. I started shouting and defending myself. Nobody came to help me. Everybody is afraid of Commander [name withheld] and his people . I was seriously injured and still I cant walk comfortably. The security office is very near to our house but they didnt come to help me . My husband [later] went to the security commander [who] came with his people and arrested the [perpetrators]. Again in the evening the [perpetrators] were released. I dont know why. Nobody investigated them. Two days before this event on 15th July, [the commander] threatened me about being a candidate. I think all this happened because of that. UNAMA/ AIHRC/ JEMB say that this is a personal and legal problem. They claim that these people are my relatives, but I dont know these men . I cant go out to campaign, women dont like to come with me, they are afraid.61
Women cited the threats posed to security and fairness by warlord candidates. A woman election worker said, The first problem of course is security. Not in Kabul, but the provinces. It is not the same for male candidates, especially warlords or powerful commanders. Women dont know if they [these warlords] will let them campaign.62 As a parliamentary candidate in Kunduz said, Security problems for women candidates are more than men, because most of the women are independent, they dont have guns and they talk about realities. I always talk about people who destroyed our country and commanders and warlords dont like that. I expect problems and threats.63 Powerful commanders defy the election rules. One candidate said, Commanders have already started campaigning [before the official campaign period] and they put their pictures everywhere during the night. Women cant do that.64
Even women in relatively safe places like Bamiyan where there are high levels of womens participation described problems of unfair influence by powerful and wealthy commanders. A female civic educator said, Powerful people and commanders may influence the process. They buy the district workers of JEMB to campaign for them. People have to vote for the commander in their own area. Districts like Waras and Panjao are controlled by one person who I do not want to name.65 This influence is often manipulated through both government and traditional social structures. For example:
[A minister] came to Takhar and said bad things about some independent candidates and he helped others. The elders of society hear what the minister says. The elders of the tribe try to make the woman leave her position and support others. The ministers make elders obey them and the elders impose their decision on everybody. 66
Candidates complained that some candidates are unfairly abusing positions of power. Some of them are supported by local governments and use their authority for getting votes.67 Candidates in Mazar-e Sharif and Herat complained about students being threatened by school officials to vote a certain way.68 One woman candidate said, People are afraid that if they dont vote for ministers relatives, they will lose their jobs in government offices. I dont think that in this case the elections will be fair . There are some warlords who threaten people to vote to them. The joint election commission did not remove warlords names from the list.69
The presence or absence of warlords who often implement discriminatory policies against women has a significant impact on womens political participation.70 One womens rights activist and civic educator talked about the greater freedoms that women in Herat have enjoyed since the removal of Ismael Khan, one of Afghanistans most powerful warlords, as governor of the western region. She said, Women can go to the market. Women can work in different offices, there were threats before. Women are not threatened like before, before there were problems or threats if you wanted to make an international trip, now women are freely traveling. Very, very positive changes have occurred.71
Human Rights Watch interviewed women who, despite serious consideration, chose not to become candidates because of security concerns linked to local commanders and a sense of disillusionment about the fairness of the elections. Women comprise only four of the 289 candidates for Nangarhars Provincial Council and 18 out of the 179 candidates for Nangarhars fourteen seats in the Wolesi Jirga. One respected woman educator from eastern Nangarhar province said, I wanted to be a candidate, but I dont have money and power. I was afraid of warlords and armed people─people who have guns and power . There are complaints because [commanders implicated in war crimes] who were taken off [the candidate] list are back on the list.72 Human Rights Watch has documented ongoing abuses by influential commanders in Nangarhar province, including a former mujahidin leader, Hazrat Ali.73
A human rights worker in Herat province said, Commanders are very influential. Most women didn't run for parliament because of this.74 A womens rights activist who has developed strong credentials throughout Afghanistan said she did not become a candidate because her family had suffered violent intimidation in the past after she helped conduct research for a report on human rights abuses against women. She said, Ismael Khan's people created problems for me and the new governor of Herat is also against me. I was afraid. I didn't want to create more problems for myself and my family.75
I am afraid of going to Kalafghan district of Takhar province. I also dont want to go to Chal district. They are remote areas and lots of commanders stand [as candidates] from there. I dont walk out of my house by myself. I go everywhere with my father and brother.
─Woman Provincial Council candidate, Takhar, August 7, 2005
Travel to villages and rural districts is one of the most difficult challenges facing women candidates. Numerous women candidates told Human Rights Watch that, as women, they would have greater difficulty than men to campaign outside of the cities.76
Human Rights Watch interviewed women candidates in southern, eastern, northern, and western provinces who all cited security, including problems associated with travel to rural areas, as their top concerns. An election worker said, Men can go to different parts, for example in Badakshan, men can go anywhere, any district. Women cannot, they may be threatened, like in Nuristan province. [In some places, it is] not possible for women to campaign or to exercise freedom of speech.77 Candidates also felt there were few avenues for protecting themselves. Most have decided to run accepting that they face deep risks to their personal safety.
One candidate for a Provincial Council seat said, I am afraid. I cant [leave] my house.78 A teacher running for the Wolesi Jirga said, I have problems traveling to remote areas. I cant take guards with myself, because I dont have enough money to give them. Men dont need guards for themselves. It is a problem for women independent candidates.79 A candidate from Kandahar province said, It would be wonderful if an armed man could accompany me. I am afraid of going to areas like Khakriz and Shah Wali Kot districts.80
A candidate from Nangarhar province made the following recommendation, Our life is in danger, anybody can come to our office and kill us. We dont have guns . When women travel to remote areas, police should go with them.81 One woman expressed fear because she had traveled to the United States and was afraid she would be targeted. She said, I have lots of problems traveling to far and remote areas .. I am afraid Al Qaeda may kill me for my trip [to the United States].82
The problem is not just limited to southern and eastern Afghanistan, where more conservative social mores and Taliban activity hamper womens travel. Even in areas without significant Taliban presence, women face real difficulties in venturing into rural areas. An independent woman candidate in Herat province said, There is no use traveling there. Some districts are not safe for women to travel. Some people don't like women candidates. I travel with two male relatives and some women.83
The restrictions women face traveling in rural areas is important not only for women candidates during the campaign period, but women voters on election day. Many candidates have recommended that the government and NGOs provide transport for women who come from remote areas to vote.84 As one candidate put it: I think that giving transport to women on voting day will help them a lot. It will also encourage them to vote.85
I dont have any requests for the government. I know the government cant do anything. Our requests wont be responded to. The elections in Takhar wont be fair, the locks on [ballot] boxes are all plastic. They can be easily broken and the votes can be replaced.
─Woman candidate for Provincial Council, Takhar, August 2, 2005
Women candidates interviewed by Human Rights Watch expressed mixed feelings about armed protection. Some women said the government should provide them armed bodyguards, whereas others rejected the idea. Some candidates recommended that, Security should be provided for each candidate. We can take one armed person with ourselves to protect us when we travel to remote areas.86 One candidate from Nangarhar province told Human Rights Watch, I need police to go with me everywhere. The security commander of districts should take care of everything when candidates enter the district. I need armed men with myself . During the night one armed man should guard my house.87
One security proposal is for the Ministry of Interior to provide two guns to candidates who have received threats. A female candidate said, I am against this decision as a woman candidate. We hate guns, we have very bad memories from guns, we dont want to carry guns as candidates. I dont think it is good for security, because it encourages our enemies to use violence.88
Some independent candidatesin particular womenare loathe to turn to local security forces that ostensibly provide protection but in some places are implicated in much of the insecurity and intimidation. Even though candidates felt nervous about security conditions, many felt they could not turn to the government for assistance. This sense of hopelessness reflects recognition of the very real limits of the central governments resources and authority, and the concomitant power of militias associated with warlords and armed factions.
One candidate in Balkh province said, I want to remind you that the security commander in Mazar is also from the Jamiat Party. The condition in Balkh is really hard. All offices are connected to each other and one party. I ask the government to make fast decisions to change conditions here.89 A JEMB official said, No women ask for guns. I think women candidates feel they cant depend on local security forces that might be heavily influenced by warlords.90
The complaints procedure may not be accessible to all candidates. An election commissioner told Human Rights Watch, While the media has carried reports of women candidates experiencing difficulties in campaigning and intimidation, the ECC has received no complaints from women candidates of this nature. However the JEMB recognizes that women in remote areas may not have access to facilities to file written complaints.91 As mentioned earlier, many candidates are still unaware of the procedures.92
Some candidates have been frustrated by the lack of response from the ECC after they submitted complaints. One official with the JEMB said that, We have heard complaintsthat the filed complaint goes nowhere, goes in a vacuum, that they [the ECC] dont get back in touch. Maybe the investigation is resolved or cannot be taken further, but they dont convey that back to the person who made the complaint.93 Others have lost confidence in the complaints process after dozens of individuals were initially screened out of the candidate list and then cleared, despite links to militias and warlords.
20 One womens rights activist said, Most of the international observers don't like to travel to remote areas and watch the process. Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights worker, Herat province, August 10, 2005.
21 The number of initial nominations was slightly higher. At the close of the nomination period for the 2005 Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council elections, 2,838 candidates had been nominated for the 239 available Wolesi Jirga seats, 342 of whom were women. 3,198 individuals had nominated themselves for the 420 Provincial Council seats, of whom 286 were women. There were an additional 67 candidates for the ten seats reserved for the pastoralist Kuchis.
22 JEMB press release, JEMB certifies final list of candidates, July 12, 2005.
23 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman NGO worker focusing on elections, Kabul, August 10, 2005. She additionally noted that, Many of the NGOs and civic education has focused on the Wolesi Jirga.
24 Human Rights Watch interview with an independent Takhar Provincial Council candidate, Kabul, August 2, 2005.
25 International consultants and political analysts have tried to encourage the formation of political parties, including in the electoral laws and the election system, but with limited success. Afghans have reiterated their commitment to the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) system, which provides greater leeway for independents and does not facilitate political party formation.
26 Human Rights Watch phone interviews with a woman election NGO worker, Kabul, August 10, 2005; Momina Yari, JEMB election commissioner, Kabul, August 8, 2005; and a womens rights activist, Herat, August 9, 2005.
27 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights activist, Herat, August 9, 2005.
28 Human Rights Watch interview with an international NGO official, Kabul, August 26, 2004.
29 Human Rights Watch interview with a woman member of a political party, Kabul, August 30, 2004.
30 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights activist, western Afghanistan, August 9, 2005.
31 Human Rights Watch interview with a womens rights activist, Wardak, August 28, 2004.
32 JEMB, Voter Registration Update Period: End-of-Period Report, 25 June-21 July 2005, [online], (retrieved July 26, 2005).
33 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a JEMB official, Kabul, August 8, 2005.
34 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a JEMB official, Bamiyan, August 9, 2005.
35 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman NGO worker focusing on elections, Kabul, August 10, 2005.
36 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a JEMB official, northeastern Afghanistan, August 9, 2005.
37 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights activist, western Afghanistan, August 9, 2005.
38 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Women still under attack - a systematic failure to protect, 2005.
40 AIHRC-UNAMA, Joint Verification of Political Rights, Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council Elections, First Report, 19 April-3June 2005 [online], (retrieved July 8, 2005).
41 Joint Election Management Body Secretariat, JEMBEnd of Registration Report, 21 July 2005, pp. 6-7.
42 Joint Election Management Body Secretariat, JEMBEnd of Registration Report, 21 July 2005, p. 7. The 80 men were dressed in army uniforms. Registration books and other election materials remain unaccounted for.
43 Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with a JEMB official, Kabul, August 1, 2005.
45 Human Rights Watch phone interviews with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kandahar, July 27, 2005 and August 9, 2005.
46 Human Rights Watch interview with an independent Takhar Provincial Council candidate, Kabul, August 2, 2005.
47 Human Rights Watch interview with an independent Takhar Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kabul, August 3, 2005.
48 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kandahar, August 4, 2005.
49 Human Rights Watch phone interviews with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kandahar, July 27, 2005 and August 9, 2005.
50 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kunduz, August 9, 2005.
51 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a party-affiliated Wolesi Jirga candidate, Mazar-e Sharif, July 23, 2005.
52 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, August 7, 2005.
53 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kandahar, August 4, 2005.
54 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Herat province, August 10, 2005.
55 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights activist, Balkh province, August 10, 2005.
56 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights activist, western Afghanistan, August 9, 2005.
57 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, July 24, 2005.
58 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Balkh province, August 10, 2005.
59 AIHRC, A Call for Justice: A National Consultation on past Human Rights Violations in Afghanistan, (Kabul: AIHRC, 2005) [online], (retrieved May 20, 2005); Afghanistan Justice Project, Casting Shadows: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, 1978-2001, (AJP, 2005) [online], (retrieved July 19, 2005); and Human Rights Watch, Blood-Stained Hands: Past Atrocities in Kabul and Afghanistans Legacy of Impunity, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2005).
60 One woman candidate in Kandahar province said, Khalid Pashtoon is a militia commander and he is in the list. Human Rights Watch phone interview with a Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kandahar, July 27, 2005. Candidates in the north cited candidates supported by Mohamed Atta, a former mujahidin commander and current governor of Balkh province. A woman candidate for the Provincial Council in Takhar said, Commander Pir Mohammad who committed lots of murder is now a candidate. Commander Bashir is also a dangerous person. There were lots of complaints against these people, but the complaints box was broken and all the complaints were taken away. Commander Piram Qul has the control of all district of Warsaj , he doesnt let anybody campaign, Human Rights Watch interview with a Takhar Provincial Council candidate, Kabul, August 2, 2005.
61 Human Rights Watch phone interviews with a Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kunduz province, August 11, 2005; an international election worker, Kabul, August 11, 2005; and a JEMB official, Kabul, August 8, 2005.
62 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman NGO election worker, Kabul, August 10, 2005.
63 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kunduz, August 9, 2005.
64 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, July 23, 2005.
65 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman civic educator, Bamiyan province, August 10, 2005.
66 Human Rights Watch interview with an independent Takhar Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kabul, August 3, 2005.
67 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Mazar-e Sharif, July 27, 2005.
68 Human Rights Watch phone interviews with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Balkh province, August 10, 2005, a party-affiliated Wolesi Jirga candidate, Mazar-e Sharif, July 23, 2005, and an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Herat, August 10, 2005.
69 Human Rights Watch interview with an independent Takhar Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kabul, August 3, 2005.
70 For example, for more information on restrictions against women in Herat under Ismael Khan, please see Human Rights Watch, We Want to Live as Human, Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan, (New York, Human Rights Watch, 2002),and Human Rights Watch, All Our Hopes are Crushed, Violence and Repression in Western Afghanistan, (New York, Human Rights Watch, 2002).
71 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights activist, Herat, August 9, 2005.
72 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman educator, Jalalabad, July 24, 2005.
73 Human Rights Watch, Killing You is a Very Easy Thing for Us, Human Rights Abuses in Southeast Afghanistan, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2003).
74 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman human rights worker, Herat province, August 10, 2005.
75 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a womens rights activist, location withheld, August 10, 2005.
76 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, July 23, 2005.
77 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman NGO election worker, Kabul, August 10, 2005.
78 Human Rights Watch interview with an independent Takhar Provincial Council candidate, Kabul, August 2, 2005.
79 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Mazar-e Sharif, July 27, 2005.
80 Human Rights Watch phone interviews with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kandahar, July 27, 2005 and August 9, 2005.
81 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, August 7, 2005.
82 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, August 7, 2005.
83 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Herat province, August 10, 2005.
84 For example, Human Rights Watch phone interview with a woman educator, Jalalabad, July 24, 2005; Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Balkh province, August 10, 2005.
85 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Mazar-e Sharif, July 27, 2005.
86 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, July 27, 2005.
87 Human Rights Watch phone interview with an independent Wolesi Jirga candidate, Jalalabad, August 7, 2005.
88 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a party-affiliated Wolesi Jirga candidate, Mazar-e Sharif, July 23, 2005.
89 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a party-affiliated Wolesi Jirga candidate, Mazar-e Sharif, July 23, 2005.
90 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a JEMB official, Kabul, August 8, 2005.
91 E-mail correspondence to Human Rights Watch from Najla Ayoobi, JEMB election commissioner, August 16, 2005.
92 For example, some candidates made recommendations to Human Rights Watch that the Afghan government should create a mechanism for submitting complaints. One woman said, I want the government to open a special office for candidates problems, Human Rights Watch phone interview with S.W., Wolesi Jirga candidate, Kandahar, August 4, 2005.
93 Human Rights Watch phone interview with a JEMB official, Kunduz, August 9, 2005.