The following testimonies are selected from more than 150 accounts of anti-Pashtun violence in northern Afghanistan gathered by Human Rights Watch researchers during a four-week research mission in February and March 2002. Human Rights Watch researchers visited dozens of villages and communities across northern Afghanistan, from Faryab province in the northwest to Baghlan province in the north-central mountains. They documented more than 150 separate incidents of violence and looting over the past three months, some occurring as recently as late February 2002, and found many Pashtun villages looted in their entirety. A comprehensive report on Human Rights Watch's findings will be issued in the near future.
Killing of at least twenty-seven Pashtun civilians and looting in Chimtal district
H., a sixteen year old ethnic Pashtun woman from the Pashtun village of Bargah-e Afghani, located in the Chimtal district of Balkh province, witnessed the beating and killing of her seventy-year-old father, Safter Bay, and her twenty-six-year-old brother, Amir Khan, by armed men of the Hazara ethnicity in early December 2001. At least twenty-seven, and possibly as many as thirty-seven, Pashtun villagers were killed by the group on the same day in this village. She was interviewed by Human Rights Watch on February 26, 2002.
Six men came to our house, they were Hazaras. When they entered into the house, they beat us and looted our household goods. When they were beating my father, I was holding him, trying to stop them from killing him. They beat me [back] with their weapons. The beating lasted for about one and one half hours. Amir Khan, my brother, was also there. They also held him and were beating him. They tied their hands behind their backs, and their feet were also tied. They had bruises all over their bodies.
The Hazaras were asking us for 2,000 to 3,000 lakhs [200 to 300 million Afghanis, worth about U.S. $1,700 to $2,500]. If we didn't pay the money, they would kill [my father and brother].
I saw the killing. At first, they beat them with their weapons, very forcefully. Then they shot them with about thirty bullets. Then they fired at them with [a heavier weapon]. Amir Khan was laid down on the ground, and they stabbed him with their bayonets. … They fired at both of them at the same time, but [my father] Safter Bay only died two days later. Amir Khan died instantly. They were [shot] in the courtyard inside our compound.
Then, they entered inside our rooms and searched them. We had carpets, kilims, a sewing machine-they took all of these. Some golden coins were also taken, as well as four pairs of earrings, four rings, our clothes, six watches. But they didn't abuse us anymore. They also found 2,000 lakhs.
Gang-rape of two women, aged fourteen and thirty, in Balkh city
N., a thirty year old Pashtun woman who lives in Balkh city, was gang-raped together with her fourteen year old daughter by a group of soldiers of the ethnic Hazara Hizb-i-Wahdat party, who also looted her home in late December 2001. The Hazara soldiers also beat her invalid husband unconscious. She was interviewed by Human Rights Watch on February 19, 2002.
They took all the women and girls to another room and started with my fourteen-year-old daughter. She was crying a lot and imploring them not to do this because she is a virgin. But one of the men threatened her with his gun and said he would kill her if she did not undress. She was raped three times.
The commander raped her twice, and another soldier raped her once. Then the two who were inside went out and the three who were outside came in and forced me next. I was raped five times.
Then…they tried to rape my twelve-year-old daughter. But, I resisted by keeping my arms around her while they kept trying to hit her. We cried and said that we are poor people with no enemies, so why are you doing these things to us.
The commander said, "It is our choice. You are Talib [a member of the Taliban] and you are Pashtun."
I am concerned about the future of my daughters. No one will marry my daughters. There is nothing left for us; marriage and honor is gone.
Beating and looting of Pashtun civilians in Dawlatabad district
M.G., a seventy-year-old ethnic Pashtun man from a Pashtun village near the town of Dawlatabad in Balkh province, was repeatedly beaten by armed Hazaras and other armed groups, and his home was looted. He also explained how past preferential treatment of his village by the Taliban, at the expense of neighboring Hazara villagers, contributed to their current insecurity. He was interviewed in his completely looted home by Human Rights Watch researchers on February 19, 2002.
Eight families were living in this area, all of them Pashtun. Four of the families have left, and four are still living here.
[Following the fall of the Taliban,] in the first four days, things were peaceful. But after four days, they came here on the pretext of searching for weapons and looted everything they found. Six or seven times they came here with their jeeps to loot.
The first time, it was around the 20th or 25th day of Ramadan [December 5 to December 10, 2001]. They came at night. About ten or fifteen people came in two Datsuns. They were [ethnically] mixed, most from Dawlatabad, some from elsewhere. They looted everything. At first they beat all of the population living here, and then they looted all of our possessions, like carpets, pots, household goods. They also broke the boxes [used to store valuables.]
From my family, they took twelve carpets, anything from the house, such as teapots, jewelry, earrings, kilims, 2 or 3 bokhars of wheat, flour, 121 sirs of rice. Four cows were seized in the second attack.
During the first attack, about twelve thieves entered. They were beating me with whips, telling me to show them my money. They were saying that we were Pashtun, they were using bad words. They also hit me with their weapons, they kicked me, and punched me with their fists. The beating lasted for about one hour. Then, they twisted my penis and testicles, trying to get me to show them where I had hidden the money. Then I lost consciousness from the pain. When I woke up, I saw that no-one was left here, and that nothing was left in my home. …
Two nights later, there was a second attack. It was some of the same people, and some others. Again, we were looted. That time, they beat me, my wife, and my children. Any time they came, they would punch me and tie my hands, then they would kick me and beat me with their weapons, and ask for money.
They collected all of the women in a room. Then they broke their boxes [where valuables are kept] and took the jewelry from the boxes. When some of the women began to cry, they beat them. They were kicking the women and saying bad words to them.
The most recent attack was twenty days ago, it came from the neighboring village. That village wants 3,000 lakhs [300 million Afghanis, worth about U.S. $2,500] from all of the villagers, that is why some of the villagers have left. We are left here, and cannot go out. The other village, Sar-i-De, is a Hazara village. The Taliban had taken my land, and told me to go farm this land, which belongs to the Hazara people. So now, the Hazara people estimate the harvest was 3,000 lakhs because I farmed on their land. But I harvested about 40 bokhars of wheat, worth 800 lakhs. I only harvested there for one season, because of the drought.
We were five farmers in the village, and had about 200 dunams of land. It was occupied by the [Taliban] government and they were farming it. The government ordered us to farm this [Hazara] land for one year. … I once fought against the Taliban, and they beat me black and blue.
I don't know how to resolve this conflict. I have no way other than to sell my house to settle this. They are threatening me every time [I go out.] I am imprisoned here [in my house.] Right now, if I leave here, they will come and steal even the windows and cut my trees.
Extortion, Beating and Shooting of Pashtun civilian in Balkh city
A.K., a thirty-four year old ethnic Pashtun man from a Pashtun village near Balkh city in Balkh province, was beaten and shot by armed ethnic Hazara soldiers of the Hizb-i Wahdat militia after he refused to give them money. He was still bedridden and recovering from gunshot wounds when interviewed at his home by Human Rights Watch researchers on February 18, 2002.
Before the shooting, two or three days before, the Hazaras who shot me came to my house, demanding money. They had bought a tractor, and needed money to pay for it. I refused to [give them money.] I guess this created the problem-they wanted to punish me for refusing to give them money. When they arrested me at the market, they said 'Right now, we will settle things.'
It was about ten days ago, a Thursday. We have two market days, Monday and Thursday, and it was a market day. It was about 11 a.m. I was riding my bicycle, and they stopped me by the jeep. They were three people, they belonged to Hizb-i Wahdat. At first, they told me that they had some work for me. When I stopped my bike, they pushed down on my bike and made me fall down.
They then ordered me to get in the jeep. When I got in the vehicle, they beat me with their fists and kicked me. They also beat me with the guns. [As we were driving,] I freed my hands and opened the door of the jeep and ran away near the cotton factory. When I ran away, they shot in front of me. Then they shot me near the ear. Then they also hit me in the neck. I screamed to alert the other villagers. When the villagers got alerted, they started shooting at the Hazaras. The Hazaras stopped chasing me and then I was rescued.
Beatings of Pashtun civilians and Theft in the Shoor Darya region of Faryab province
A.M., forty-eight-year-old ethnic Pashtun man from a Pashtun village in the Shoor Darya region of Faryab province, was jailed, beaten and robbed by Uzbek commanders belonging to Junbish-i-Milli-yi Islami when he returned home from fifteen months of refuge in Iran on December 15, 2001. He was interviewed by Human Rights Watch researchers on February 21, 2002.
When the Taliban [government] fell, I was [a refugee] in Iran. I came home from Iran by way of [the Afghan city of] Herat. There was no man in my home, except for my cousin, and this is why I came home.
Three men from Juma Bazaar [an area of Faryab province] were in power in Dowlatabad, their names are R, W, and T. When they saw me [arrive in Dowlatabad], they arrested me and took my money, around 500,000 Iranian Toman [5 million Iranian Rial, worth about U.S. $840].
It was one day before [the Muslim feast day of] Eid, the thirtieth day of Ramadan [December 15, 2001], that they arrested and jailed me. I was in Dowlatabad that day, coming from Iran. I got off the vehicle and they caught me because they knew I had money. I also had an Iranian blanket and some presents, so they understood I came from Iran.
When I got off [the bus], three armed persons arrested me and beat me with their weapons. Then they pulled me to the prison. There, they took my bag. My money was in the bag. They also took about 100 lakhs [10 million Afghanis, worth about U.S. $83] worth of presents that were in my bag.
At the prison that night, [commanders] T and W came. They poured some water on my back. Then they started beating me with wooden sticks for a long time. They warned me not to tell anyone that they had stolen my money. They beat me for about four hours like this. I was jailed for five more nights like this.
… Just today, an Uzbek came to one of our elders. He told the Hadji [honorary title for an elder who has gone on the Haj pilgrimage] that the elders have to pay about twenty lakhs [20 million Afghanis, worth about 16 U.S. dollars] to him. Otherwise, they would beat or jail us. [Two Uzbek men quickly left the village when the Human Rights Watch team arrived.]
A.S., a forty-six-year-old ethnic Pashtun from a Pashtun village in the Shoor Darya region of Faryab province, was severely beaten and robbed by armed members of the ethnic Uzbek party, Junbish-i-Milli-yi Islami after the fall of the Taliban. He remains bedridden from his injuries, and may not recover. He was interviewed by Human Rights Watch researchers on February 22, 2002.
When the Taliban fell, all of the Uzbek villagers from Faizabad [the capital of Faryab province, located over the mountains from the village] came to invade the village and looted everything. I was a rich man here-I owned 120 sheep, two camels, two cows, two donkeys, and one motorbike. Now, I cannot even claim back the money that Uzbeks have borrowed from me [prior to the fall of the Taliban]. Right now, I am begging food from the other villagers.
It was from the first days of Ramadan that it started. They came not just for one day, the looting lasted for more than twenty days during Ramadan. This village was a rich village, and for that reason thieves would come day and night. One group would leave and others would come.
I know the thieves who stole 100 lakhs [10 million Afghanis, worth about U.S. $83] from me. One is N., son of Khalai, he is from Khobe Sayat village. The other is S., son of Nurbi. They both belong to Junbish[-i-Milli-yi Islami]. It is two months since they beat me, but I am still in bed.
The day I was beaten, we were two people coming from the city. It was during Ramadan, the last days of Ramadan. I was [coming from] feeding my sheep and returning to my home. It was around one or two p.m. Two people came on motorbikes, it was S. and N.
At first they choked me with a turban. I lost consciousness, and they tied my hands. Then they started beating me, they beat me with a kardoom, a cable with a metal ball at the end. I can't remember how many times they hit me, on my back, my legs, my hands. They broke my arm with the kardoom. The beating lasted for about one hour. Then they brought me on their motorbikes to my home, and I paid them the money [they had demanded] and gave them my motorbike. They ordered me, either you give money or we will kill you. I told them, "I will give you money, please don't kill me."