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Shoor Darya Valley
The Shoor Darya river valley is located a few miles west of the towns of Dawlatabad and Faizabad in Faryab province. Some thirty Pashtun villages are found along the Shoor Darya valley. Human Rights Watch visited the area in mid-February, and by that time several of the villages were completely abandoned. Human Rights Watch researchers did find some remaining residents in three villages in the area, and spoke to their residents. The villagers in Shoor Darya were very concerned about their security, and in one village specifically requested that their names and the names of their village not be used.

MK Village
In MK village (name withheld), the ethnic Pashtun population suffered serious abuses at the hands of the Uzbek Junbish forces who took power in the area following the collapse of the Taliban regime, as well as by armed Uzbek civilians from neighboring Uzbek villages.

Fifty-eight-year-old M.A. was at home on November 10 when the Uzbek looters first came to the village. He had just heard on his radio at 6 a.m. that the Taliban had abandoned Mazar-i Sharif, and at about 10 a.m. saw a group of armed Uzbeks come on donkeys to the river and cross over toward MK village. Most of the other villagers ran away, but M.A. stayed home. Then the armed Uzbeks came to his home:

They came to me with about six people. ... I was standing outside my home. They asked me for a weapon, and I told them I don't have any weapons. They beat me two or three times with their guns, and then fired once beside me to scare me. Another one stopped them, telling them not to kill me. I told them they could take whatever they wanted, but not to kill me.
So they entered my house. They told me to show them the boxes [used for storing valuables]. They broke the boxes and took jewelry worth about 500 lakhs [about U.S. $700], including some watches. They took four pairs of new kilims, some nice clothes, three pillows with kilim covers, a radio, teapot, and all kinds of household goods.119

The looting continued for almost the entire month of Ramadan, according to M.A. and other villagers: "After that [first day], they came twenty more times, every day during Ramadan until it was finished. Then there was nothing left."120

M.J.M., a sixty-one-year-old village elder of MK village, also told Human Rights Watch that his property was looted and that he had been repeatedly jailed and beaten by Uzbek soldiers, resulting in the loss of a testicle:

Just after the fall of Mazar-i Sharif [on November 9, 2001] they came to disarm us, but not the other [non-Pashtun] villages. We are the weakest village here, we've been completely robbed. They took the bread from our plates, from the mouths of our children. I was beaten three times. They just said "you are Pashtun," they did not even say "you are Taliban." When they came [immediately after the fall of Mazar] they beat me with rifle butts. They took me to jail because I would not pay them. They beat me again there. They twisted my testicles, until the left one is completely gone.121

On December 15, 2001, forty-eight-year-old A.M., a resident of MK village, decided to return home from fifteen months of refuge in Iran, confident that the fall of the Taliban had significantly improved the situation in his home area. He traveled by bus from Iran to Dawlatabad, the nearest town to MK village, but was arbitrarily arrested, beaten and robbed as soon as he stepped off the bus:

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 Dawlatabad, their names are Rahmat, Wali, and Taji. When they saw me [arrive in Dawlatabad], they arrested me and took my money, around 500,000 Iranian Toman [5 million Iranian Rial, about U.S. $840].
It was one day before [the Muslim feast day of] Eid of Fitr, the thirtieth day of Ramadan [December 15, 2001], that they arrested and jailed me. I was in Dawlatabad 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 dragged me to the prison. There, they took my bag. My money was in the bag. They also took about 100 lakhs [about U.S. $140] worth of presents that were in my bag.
At the prison that night, Taji and Wali 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.
On the sixth night, Hashim Khan, an Uzbek commander from Maymana came and requested my release. Then I came to my house. I found my house completely looted. I just found my family members there. They [armed Uzbeks] looted all of my home's possessions, like kilims, wheat, clothes, everything-nothing was left. Watches and jewelry were also stolen.122

The abuses in MK village were still continuing when a team of Human Rights Watch visited the village on February 21, 2002. As the Human Rights Watch team entered the village, they saw two armed Uzbek men leave the village on motorbikes. M.J.M., a sixty-one-year-old elder of the village, explained what had just happened:

Just when you came there were two armed Uzbeks here with a written demand from the uluswali [district governor] for 20,000 [Pakistani] rupees [about U.S. $300]. They went away when they saw your car, they took away the demand, saying "now the foreigners are coming." I know them by name, but I can't tell you-when there is security, I will go find them myself and bring them to you, but today you can't guarantee my safety. They will jail us if we cannot pay; I was just released from jail last month.123

Some of the villagers of MK village freely admitted that prior abuses committed by their villagers against Uzbek neighbors contributed to the current cycle of abuse directed against their community. One villager explained what had happened, saying that Pashtun villagers had "borrowed" money from Uzbek villagers when the Taliban first came to power:

We had borrowed some money from the Uzbeks before. When the Taliban took power, at that time the villagers had borrowed some goods from their [Uzbek] shops, and livestock. From that time, they had not repaid these things, so the Uzbeks came to demand that money. To be honest, some of them had taken the money by violence, and others had borrowed money knowing they would not pay it back. They used the arrival of the Taliban to pressure the Uzbeks to give them things.124

A second villager used the same "borrowing" euphemism, saying that "it is true that Pashtuns borrowed money from the Uzbeks when the Taliban came to power, and probably also people from this village [did this.]"125 But he claimed that the land and property disputes actually went quite a bit farther back:

Ten years ago, when Junbish first took power, we had similar land disputes and theft of sheep. Then, the Uzbeks had also borrowed money and created land disputes. When the Taliban took power and sharia [Islamic] law began, we demanded our rights from the Taliban. We were given sheep, horses, and camels by the sharia court, because we are nomadic people. Eight or nine years ago, they [Uzbeks] had stolen our livestocks and goods. That is why our villagers went to the sharia courts-and why the villagers got back what was theirs by right.
When the last change happened [the fall of the Taliban], the Uzbeks wanted their rights again, such as the items given by the sharia courts to us. That is why we had this problem.126

However, many of the villagers who were affected by the looting did not benefit directly from the oppressive nature of the Taliban regime, or participate in abuses against other ethnic communities.

According to the villagers, their security situation improved somewhat when Junbish leader General Dostum appointed a new area commander who had tried to stop some of the low level commanders from looting. But the severe looting jeopardized their long-term ability to support themselves, and incidents of harassment and abuse still occurred: "We are still afraid. We have lost our lands, we are hungry, and we do not dare go out to get food or to get international aid."127

Haji Mullah Hashim and Khoja Abbas Villages
The village of Haji Mullah Hashim was home to between 200 and 250 Pashtun families prior to the fall of the Taliban regime, but most of those families had fled by the time Human Rights Watch visited the village on February 22, 2002.

A fifty-year-old man who wished to remain anonymous explained that he and his relatives had walked to Turkmenistan after the Taliban fell, afraid that Uzbek forces would kill them if they remained at home. He stayed for six days in Turkmenistan, but his application for asylum was rejected and he was forced to return to Haji Mullah Hashim. When he arrived home, he found everything looted: "I had many things in my home, like wheat, carpets, and household goods. But when I came back home, there was nothing left. Only the stove remained."128

After he returned home, armed Uzbek men continued to come to the village almost every day for a period of about forty days. One of the village elders, seventy-five-year-old Lala Jan, disappeared from the village around November 20, 2001, after he was unable to pay 2,000 lakhs [about U.S. $2,800] demanded from him by Uzbek gunmen. The men beat him severely, and then took him away. The villagers believe that Lala Jan died from the beating, and that the gunmen disposed of his body.129 The anonymous fifty-year-old man, who returned to the village on the same day that Lala Jan disappeared, said he was also severely beaten by the Uzbek gunmen that day:

It was 9 a.m. when I returned [to the village]. Three vehicles stopped by my house, and about fifty soldiers got off and moved to the mosque. They called all of the villagers to come to the mosque. When all of the villagers went there, they locked us inside the mosque.
Then, the soldiers were calling us out, one or two at a time. They asked us to find them weapons. I told them we do not have weapons, I even swore to God. Then they told me that if I don't have weapons, I should give them money. I explained that I didn't have anything, because I had been looted.
They ordered me to lie down. I put my turban in my mouth because of the soil, and to prevent myself from screaming. Then one of them sat on my legs, and the other on my head. Two were standing by my sides. They had their whips and started beating me. It lasted for about thirty minutes, until I lost consciousness. I was in a very bad state.130

Human Rights Watch asked him what had happened to his female relatives during the period of looting. The witness grew visibly agitated, and suddenly ripped off his turban and threw it down on the floor with great force. He then explained: "For forty days, if there are no men in the village and only women are remaining, what do you think happened? It [rape] is unmentionable for us.... They have dishonored some of our women, but did not kidnap any of them. It would have been better if they killed all of us."131 His wife then explained that her husband had given her a knife and a grenade, and that she had managed to fend off attackers by threatening to explode the grenade.132

The village of Khoja Abbas is adjacent to the village of Haji Mullah Hashim, and its residents suffered abuses similar to those reported by their neighbors. One of the most severe cases involved A.S., a wealthy forty-six-year-old livestock owner who was severely beaten in mid-December 2001 by two members of Junbish. He was still bedridden when interviewed by Human Rights Watch two months later. He told Human Rights Watch about the extensive looting and the severe beating that he endured:

When the Taliban fell, all of the Uzbek villagers from Faizabad [a town in Faryab province, 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 [about U.S. $140] from me. One is N., son of Khalai, he is from Kuh-e Sayyad village. The other is S., son of Nuri. They both belong to Junbish. 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 1 or 2 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 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."133

The severe looting of villages in the Shoor Darya valley has drastically worsened the ability of the villagers to survive, as most people have lost their livestock and other food supplies to the looters. Despite the deteriorating situation, many villagers complained that they were unable to seek out humanitarian aid. In early January 2002, the villagers of Khoja Abbas sent a group of women to Faizabad to collect humanitarian aid from the WFP distribution center. On the way to Faizabad, Uzbek villagers stopped the women, tore up their WFP food ration cards, and confiscated their seventeen donkeys and camels. In early January, three men from the village again went to Faizabad to collect three bags of wheat for sowing from WFP. The men obtained three bags of wheat from the distribution center, but had two of the bags confiscated on their way home by Uzbek villagers, who told them, "One bag for you, two bags for us."134

The security situation in Haji Mullah Hashim and Khoja Abbas has improved since mid-January 2002, when Mullah Lal, an Uzbek Junbish commander, placed a group of his soldiers inside the villages. The permanent presence of armed Uzbek soldiers has deterred looters from coming to the villages, but most of the Pashtun villagers are still unable to travel outside their village or go to the market in town out of fear of attack.

Islam Qala
Islam Qala is a large village in Faryab province, located on the road between Dawlatabad and Maymana. According to Pashtun villagers, it was home to about 100 to 200 Pashtun families and 1,000 Uzbek families prior to the fall of the Taliban.

J.M., a thirty-five-year-old Pashtun farmer from Islam Qala, was living as an internally displaced person in Balkh city when he was interviewed by Human Rights Watch in mid-February 2002. When asked why he had fled his home village, he explained that he had been abused and threatened by Uzbek soldiers in Islam Qala:

[In late December 2001], at 5 p.m., three armed people came to my house.... They were Uzbeks, under the command of Commander Hashim of Junbish. They entered my house and asked for 100 lakhs [about U.S. $140]. I explained I didn't have this. Since I didn't have the money, they beat me.
They tied my feet together. One stood on my neck and the others were using wooden sticks to beat me. I couldn't count the number of hits, but I guess it must have been over one hundred. Then, I lost consciousness ... When I woke up, the soldiers were gone.135

About three weeks prior to this beating, in early December, J.M. was farming his field when a Junbish soldier approached and demanded his cows. When J.M. refused to hand over the cows, the soldier stabbed him in the chest with his bayonet. Following the second beating, J.M., his wife, and his three children fled with their donkey to the larger city of Dawlatabad that same night. They left behind most of their belongings, including 700 kilograms of wheat, four carpets, three cows, a donkey, and their household goods. Still feeling unsafe in Dawlatabad, they later fled to Balkh city, located two provinces away. "Now, in Islam Qala there are no Pashtuns left," concluded J.M., "They have escaped to many different places."136

Seventy-year-old A., a second internally displaced person from Islam Qala located by Human Rights Watch researchers in Balkh city, offered an essentially similar account of the events in his home village. He was stopped at the Islam Qala market in early December 2001 by a group of three Junbish soldiers, who demanded money from him. The soldiers then took him to an abandoned home, beat him with their rifle butts, and took 30 lakhs [about U.S. $42] from him. "They left me, and that night I arranged to escape," A. told Human Rights Watch. "They started beating us, so we decided to leave. We hear that none of us [Pashtuns] are left in the village."137

When Human Rights Watch researchers visited Islam Qala on February 21, 2002, they found almost no Pashtun villagers remaining in the village, except for a few older women and a sickly man who had just returned from medical treatment. S., a fifty-year-old woman who had remained in the village to take care of her ailing mother, told Human Rights Watch that only three Pashtun families remained in the village: "There are no [Pashtun] men living here now. The men cannot come here, because the Uzbeks will beat them if they come home."138 The only male Pashtun Human Rights Watch found in the village was thirty-six-year-old J.M., who had returned from medical treatment in Mazar-i Sharif six days prior. He also confirmed that most of the Pashtun families had left after suffering abuses:

One hundred Pashtun families lived here. When I came back [six days ago], I found nothing. All of the Pashtuns have left, they were all looted. Since I am a sick man, they did not beat me, because I still have health problems.139

119 Human Rights Watch interview with M.A., aged fifty-eight, MK village, February 21, 2002.

120 Ibid.

121 Human Rights Watch interview with M.J.M., aged sixty-one, MK village, February 21, 2002.

122 Human Rights Watch interview with A.M, aged forty-eight, MK village, February 21, 2002.

123 Human Rights Watch interview with M.J.M., aged sixty-one, MK village, February 21, 2002.

124 Human Rights Watch interview with I., aged thirty-five, MK village, February 21, 2002. I., like many Afghans, uses only one name.

125 Human Rights Watch interview with anonymous male, aged sixty, MK village, February 21, 2002.

126 Ibid.

127 Human Rights Watch interview with M.J.M., aged sixty-one, MK village, February 21, 2002.

128 Human Rights Watch interview with anonymous, aged fifty, Haji Mullah Hashim, February 22, 2002.

129 Ibid.

130 Ibid.

131 Ibid.

132 Human Rights Watch interview, Haji Mullah Hashim, February 22, 2002.

133 Human Rights Watch interview with A.S., aged forty-six, Khoja Abbas, February 22, 2002.

134 Human Rights Watch interview with A.M., aged forty, Khoja Abbas, February 22, 2002.

135 Human Rights Watch interview with J.M., aged thirty-five, Balkh city, February 18, 2002.

136 Ibid.

137 Human Rights Watch interview with A., aged seventy, Balkh city, February 18, 2002. A., like many Afghans, uses only one name.

138 Human Rights Watch interview with S., aged fifty, Islam Qala, February 20, 2002. S., like many Afghans, uses only one name.

139 Human Rights Watch interview with J.M., aged thirty-six, Islam Qala, February 20, 2002.

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