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Taliban Linked to Murder of Afghan Rights Defender

Abdul Samad Amiri Headed Rights Office in Ghor Province

Abdul Samad Amiri.

The murder of human rights official Abdul Samad Amiri is the latest targeted killing of a civilian government official implicating Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Amiri, acting head of the governmental Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission's (AIHRC) office in Ghor province, was abducted earlier this week while traveling through the Jalrez district of Maidan Wardak province. On September 5, local officials said his body had been found along the Kabul-Ghor highway. The AIHRC released a statement saying Amiri was shot by Taliban insurgents.

Maidan Wardak province has experienced an upsurge in violence over the past year, as Taliban forces gained significant influence in several districts, including Jalrez, establishing checkpoints to stop and search vehicles for government employees.

Amiri had worked with the AIHRC for many years and had previously served as a children’s rights officer. He was devoted to human rights work, and on the morning of the day he was kidnapped, he posted this message:

I have seen the trauma of more than 40 years’ civil war and feel wholeheartedly the affliction imposed on my people… whatever I do for my country, though insufficient to what I owe, makes me happy. I can’t forget or ignore the dreams for Afghanistan’s future and her place as a part of this world. Positive change will come to Afghanistan when every citizen knows we have a responsibility to work for her improvement. Despite the difficulties, I owe my life to this land and will work for its betterment so long as I live.

The Taliban have not issued a statement on Amiri’s death. Taliban officials claim their forces are under orders to protect civilians, but they exclude from that category civilian government employees, in violation of the laws of war.

Amiri’s death is a reminder of the price civilians pay in Afghanistan’s conflict.

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