Forty-year-old L.M., a farmer, briefly fled his home village of Qona Qala when the Taliban government collapsed in Baghlan province, but quickly returned. On December 10, 2001, two armed members of Jamiat approached L.M. while he was farming his field, demanding 50 lakhs [about U.S. $70] and guns. They then severely beat L.M., and tried to take him away from the village:
The two gunmen also beat L.M.'s seventy-year-old mother N.B., who was still bedridden because of the beating when interviewed by Human Rights Watch researchers two months later. She told Human Rights Watch that two armed men came into her home, and began beating her: "They beat me on the shoulders and my hand with their guns, and even took off my chador [an Islamic garment worn by women]. I asked them why they were beating us. They said they wanted the guns and money. I said that we have no guns and money, because all of those things had already been looted when we left the village after the fall of the Taliban."161
N.M., a thirty-five-year-old villager from Qona Qala village in Nahrin district, explained that almost his entire village fled "in fear of being looted and being abused" when the Taliban regime collapsed in mid-November 2001. They stayed in Baghlan city for about forty-five days, and then Jamiat commander M. told N.M. and a few other families that they could return home because "I was not with the Taliban and hadn't bothered anyone." When they returned home, they found that the village had been looted by Jamiat forces: "They [Jamiat forces] looted pots, five kilims, three stoves, and some wood for fuel [from my compound.]"162
On February 20, a local Jamiat commander I. beat N.M. and his wife, and insisted that N.M. pay him money:
N.M. went to complain to M., the more senior Jamiat commander who had invited him to return to the village. Commander M. told him not to provide the 100 sers of onions to commander I., and wrote a note to commander I. (who had come from another district), stating "You are an immigrant villager, and you should not bother your neighbors."164
However, commander M.'s limited protection was not sufficient to insulate N.M. from another commander's demands. In a separate incident in mid-February 2002, an ethnic Uzbek, T.M., who was living under the protection of yet another Jamiat commander, D.M., forced N.M. to give him 70 lakhs [about U.S. $100]. When N.M. asked commander M. to intervene, commander M. told him that commander D.M. was too powerful, and that he could not help.
Because of the two recent attacks, N.M. was still very fearful for his security when interviewed by Human Rights Watch on February 20: "It is not safe, I cannot come out of my compound now. I don't answer the door when someone knocks."165
Forty-four-year-old H. was still in his home village of Baraki when a group of about fifty to sixty ethnic Tajik Jamiat soldiers arrived from neighboring Tajik villages on November 12, at about 11 a.m. Most of the soldiers arrived on horseback or on foot. He described how he was beaten at his compound, and the extensive looting carried out by the soldiers:
Two soldiers were standing by in the courtyard, not letting me escape.
Twenty-year-old N., a Wali Khel tribesman, fled to a neighboring Tajik village, and received shelter and protection in the home of a Tajik family. He explained to Human Rights Watch how the Tajik family had protected him, and how he ultimately decided to leave when he found his home looted down to the roofs and windows:
Many of the Baraki villagers have been displaced to C. (name withheld), a largely abandoned village located on the outskirts of Baghlan city. But even here, they are not really safe. On February 20, five or six armed Jamiat soldiers came to C. and took away thirty-five-year-old M.A., a Pashtun villager from Baraki. According to M.A: "At first they threatened me, saying I was a Taliban commander, that I had borrowed some money from them, and that I owed them 200 lakhs [about U.S. $280]. Then they beat me two or three times with their rifle butts, pushed me in a vehicle, and took me to Nahrin."168
In Nahrin, M.A. was taken to the compound of Commander Alim with whom he had a long-running dispute. According to M.A., Commander Alim had stolen twenty of his sheep about one year before, when the Taliban temporarily abandoned Nahrin, and M.A. had taken back seven of those sheep when the Taliban had regained control of Nahrin. This time, Commander Alim locked M.A. in a toilet for five or six days, and M.A. was beaten on the first day. Commander Alim told M.A. that this would be his last chance to remain alive, adding, "You belonged to the Taliban; now, it is not your time."169
While keeping M.A. in captivity, Commander Alim sent a delegation of Tajik elders to C. The Tajik elders told M.A.'s fellow villagers that commander Alim would release M.A. if they paid 200 lakhs [about U.S. $160]; otherwise he would be killed. The villagers paid the ransom, and M.A. was released.170
M.A., aged forty-eight, remained in Lakan Khel until mid-February. His home, and most of the village, was first looted by Jamiat troops when the Taliban fell: "Jamiat troops entered the village, looted, and beat people." Then, some Jamiat soldiers made M.A. buy one of their AK-47 assault rifles for 100 lakhs [about U.S. $140]. He later fled to a neighboring Tajik village, but ten days later another group of Jamiat soldiers found him and insisted that he pay them 200 lakhs, and leave the Tajik village, telling him, "You are Pashtun, you belong to the Taliban." M.A. went back to his village, and found it looted: "I found nothing in my compound. They had looted my house, even taken the windows. I just set up a tent inside my compound and stayed there for twenty days."172
But his troubles were not yet over. After about twenty days, five Jamiat commanders came to M.A.'s home with some soldiers:
M.A. was subsequently informed that his life was in danger, and left with his family. He estimates that only about twenty to thirty Pashtun families remained in Lakan Khel when he left in mid-February.
A.K., a fifty-six-year-old villager from Lakan Khel, also remained in Lakan Khel when the Taliban regime collapsed. He reported that soon after the Taliban fell, Jamiat soldiers started looting the village: "They came over a three-day period, and looted each time they came." Five Jamiat soldiers came to his compound, in which some twenty-five family members were living, and started beating him and demanding money:
The soldiers returned again later, taking ten sheep, two kilims, two teapots, and some money. A.K.'s compound was looted so thoroughly that he did not have the means to leave the village, so he decided to stay on: "I was completely looted, and I didn't have anything for traveling here, so that is why I stayed. I had no horses or donkeys to travel on, and I had children with me."175 On February 17, 2002, looters absconded with A.K.'s last possessions:
With no possessions left, A.K. finally left his home village and brought his twenty-five family members to a camp for displaced persons near Baghlan city. By the time he left, only ten to twelve Pashtun families remained in Lakan Khel, and A.K. was certain they, too, would soon be forced to leave.
Thirty-five-year-old F.K. explained that the Jamiat commanders had begun collecting the weapons from Pashtun villages as soon as the Taliban collapsed: "In the first days of the fall of the Taliban, they collected our weapons-they requested one or two weapons [from each household.] Only the Pashtuns were disarmed after the fall of the Taliban."177 He said that his harvest was looted the night of the Taliban collapse:
F.K. left Jadran in the last week of February 2002, by which time only about five Pashtun families remained in the village. He left after his home was thoroughly looted, he suffered beatings, and finally was told by neighboring Tajik villagers that he could no longer farm his land:
Other Pashtun Villages in Nahrin District
H.K., a fifty-five-year-old father of seven, fled from Dasht-e Qazi: "They took our sheep, our household goods, everything. It was the opposition [to the Taliban], the [now] government forces. They were all Tajiks from the mountains, the high mountain people. They took our goats, our wheat, our barley, our rugs, our kilims. They took 30 sers [210 kilograms] of my wheat, and 20 sers [140 kilograms] of barley. There was shooting in the village. We were afraid, so we left everything behind and they took it. We can't go back because there are people with guns. They demand money and if we can't pay them will kill us."181
Human Rights Watch researchers visited Ghararaka, a village of some 300 to 400 Pashtun families, located in the Kilagai valley.
According to N., a thirty-five-year-old farmer, a large group of Jamiat fighters from the Andarab and Panjshir valley areas arrived in Ghararaka during the month of Ramadan, and set up a checkpoint on the main road. The Jamiat soldiers focused on locating and looting the homes of wealthy villagers and military people associated with the Taliban, taking cars, furniture, and weapons. N.'s home was also looted by a group of ten to fifteen soldiers: "They brought a truck with them, and took the bed and furniture."182
K.L., a seventy-five-year-old village elder in Ghararaka, explained that the Tajiks were seeking revenge for the abuses of the Taliban, but that the Pashtuns had also suffered under the Taliban: "In the time of the Taliban, they hurt the Tajiks, and now [the Tajiks] are taking revenge on us, even though the Talibs put us in jail too. We were hurt as much by the Talibs, but now the Tajiks blame us.... The Tajiks said they wanted to get back what the Talibs took, they said, `We've lost our money so we want yours.'"183 He said the soldiers beat the villagers with rifle butts and cables.
M.S., aged thirty-seven, also blamed the Taliban for bringing problems to their village: "We have lived here [in peace] for years, but the Talibs came from Kandahar and made problems. Now [the Tajiks] blame us, they use this as an excuse [to loot.]"184 He said that the Taliban had established a religious school (madrassah) in the village and were "training forty Talibs there."185
D.M., aged thirty-five, told Human Rights Watch that the Jamiat soldiers from the Andarab valley had come to the village and demanded money from villagers on a regular basis: "They asked everyone, `you are Pashtun, give me 10 lakhs, 20 lakhs [about U.S. $14 to $28]"186 One of the commanders, Nasim Alam, came to his compound with twelve soldiers, hit D.M. with a AK-47 assault rifle, and stole 650 sers [4,550 kilograms] of rice." D.M. and his brother went to the regiment's garrison to deliver a written complaint on the same day. On the orders of the regiment's commander, the two brothers were locked in a container for twenty-four hours. Finally, they were released when they apologized and said they did not want their rice returned.187
158 U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), "Afghanistan - Earthquake OCHA Situation Report No. 6," March 28, 2002, OCHA/GVA - 2002/0075.
159 The senior Jamiat commander in Nahrin, recently appointed district administrator (uluswal).
160 Human Rights Watch interview with L.M., aged forty, Qona Qala, February 28, 2002.
161 Human Rights Watch interview with N.B., aged seventy, Qona Qala, February 28, 2002.
162 Human Rights Watch interview with N.M., aged thirty-five, Qona Qala, February 28, 2002.
166 Human Rights Watch interview with H, aged forty-four, Chimkala, March 1, 2002. H., like many Afghans, uses only one name.
167 Human Rights Watch interview with N., aged twenty, March 1, 2002. N., like many Afghans, uses only one name.
168 Human Rights Watch interview with M.A., aged thirty-five, March 1, 2002.
170 Human Rights Watch interview with M.N., March 1, 2002.
171 Human Rights Watch interview with A.K., aged fifty-six, March 1, 2002.
172 Human Rights Watch interview with M.A., aged forty-eight, March 1, 2002.
174 Human Rights Watch interview with A.K., aged fifty-six, March 1, 2002.
177 Human Rights Watch interview with F.K., aged thirty-five, March 1, 2002.
180 Human Rights Watch interview with S.M., internally displaced persons camp in Baghlan city, February 25, 2002.
181 Human Rights Watch interview with H.K., aged fifty-five, internally displaced persons camp in Baghlan city, February 25, 2002.
182 Human Rights Watch interview with N., aged thirty-five, Ghararaka, February 25, 2002. N., like many Afghans, uses only one name.
183 Human Rights Watch interview with K.L., aged seventy-five, Ghararaka, February 25, 2002.
184 Human Rights Watch interview with M.S., aged thirty-seven, Ghararaka, February 25, 2002.
186 Human Rights Watch interview with D.M., aged thirty-five, Ghararaka, February 25, 2002.