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Nahrin District
Nahrin, a mountainous district to the east of Baghlan city, was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes on March 25-27, 2002. Between 800 and 1000 persons were estimated to have died, and several thousand families left without shelter.158 Human Rights Watch researchers had visited the district four weeks earlier, by which time many of the Pashtun villages in the district were already depopulated due to targeted looting and violence.

Qona Qala
Qona Qala is a Pashtun village with a normal population of some twenty Pashtun families. Most of the Pashtun families fled in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Taliban in the district, but some have begun to return to their villages.

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:

I was farming my land at the time. It was 12 o'clock. Two people came-one had a weapon, another picked up a stick of wood. They hit me on the head and shoulders. My face was bloody. They hit me on the back and legs with the end of the rifle. When they hit me on the head, I collapsed. They broke the stick while beating me. They also beat me with stones. They said they would kill me. They were asking for money or weapons. The beating went on for more than one hour.
Then they tried to take me toward the mountains on foot, and they pulled me and beat me. They said, "Hurry up, hurry up!" It was Monday; people were in the bazaar of Nahrin and they were walking up and down the street. The people in the bazaar were trying to look at me, because I was bleeding from the face. So they [the armed men] carried me away from the bazaar, to a pit.
Then all of the people who knew me-the villagers, elders, even Qazi Fazl-ul-Haq159-came and stopped them. At that time, I was protected by the people.160

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:

Two days before the start of Eid-ul Adha [February 22], [another] neighboring commander, I., came and beat me and my wife, asking for money and weapons. I had just finished my evening prayers. The commander came with his son, brought me from my compound to the mosque, and then beat me. They hit me with a stick and a rifle butt. The father was holding me, and the son beat me-for thirty minutes. The villagers were crying, asking the commander to stop. "He's a poor man," they said, "He did nothing." The commander was asking for money. I said, "What money?" He said the price of 100 sers [about 700 kilograms] of onions, and that I should bring it tomorrow. While I was being beaten, my wife came out to ask them to spare me. They kicked her hard.163

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

Baraki is an ethnic Pashtun village that, according to its displaced residents, numbers about 400 families belonging to two different Pashtun tribes. About 100 families belong to the Naseri tribe, and another 300 belong to the Wali Khel tribe. When the Taliban regime fell, Tajik Jamiat forces looted Baraki. The first cases of looting targeted the Naseri side of the village, but caused Wali Khel villagers to flee as well. The homes of Wali Khel villagers were then also looted. Human Rights Watch researchers visited Baraki on February 28, 2002, and found it completely abandoned. Two Tajik sheep herders nearby told Human Rights Watch that "the villagers had gone away." Human Rights Watch later located several of the villagers living as internally displaced persons in other villages.

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:

When they entered my compound, they beat me with their weapons for a while and then asked me to leave the room. Then I sat in the courtyard of my compound, while the soldiers carried out materials from my home. They didn't even leave me a cup. They took 300 sirs [2,100 kilograms] of wheat, 200 sirs [1,400 kilograms] of barley, 50 sirs [350 kilograms] of rice, five rugs, five kilims, and 200 lakhs Daulati [20 million Daulati Afghani, about U.S. $720].
They hit me with the backs of their weapons and also with whips, like they use for buzkashi [a sport involving horses]. I was beaten about five different times, each time for about five to ten minutes. They asked me what I was doing there.

Two soldiers were standing by in the courtyard, not letting me escape.

At first, my family was inside the rooms, but then they were brought out. While the men were beating me in the compound, my family were crying and asking them to stop. The women-my mother, sister, and daughter-were holding me, to protect me, so they were also beaten at the same time.
The looting lasted from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. On that day, one team of soldiers collected items and tied them in bundles. Another group came on horses, and carried them to their villages. They even sent their small boys to loot chickens or hens.166

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:

Four or five [Pashtun] families were staying in the Tajik village. We weren't rich people; we did not have any animals. The people who had livestock had moved before to Baghlan city. I had some friends in the Tajik village, who were very poor people. I hid in the house of one of them-I was safe there. Sometimes, when I wanted to visit my village, I was accompanied by a Tajik neighbor. There were Jamiat troops in the village [where I was staying], but they could not find me.
Sometimes I could visit my village, when there were no soldiers around. When I visited the village, I just saw walls-nothing else; they had looted the roofs and windows. Nothing was left in my house. When I saw the state of the village, I moved here.
I left [the Tajik village] together with the other four or five Pashtun families. We were helped by our hosts, who carried our belongings on their horses until we got here.167

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

Lakan Khel
According to the displaced villagers located by Human Rights Watch, Lakan Khel was a village of some 600 Pashtun families. Almost all of the families fled during the first days of the fall of the Taliban, when their village was looted by Jamiat soldiers. A few families remained, but continued to suffer severe abuses. One villager who spoke to Human Rights Watch left Lakan Khel in late February 2002; he said that only ten or twelve families remained in Lakan Khel when he left.171

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:

Once again, they came to me, and invaded my tent. I said to them, "I bought your weapon, I paid you money, what is your aim now? What more do you want?" They said, "You are Pashtun. You don't belong in this area. You must leave for Kabul, and leave [this area] for us."
They tied my hands, laid me down on the ground, and beat me on my back with a wooden stick for more than ten minutes. They even beat my small children, asking them where my money was. They also beat the female members of my family, and asked them, "Why don't you leave?" Five commanders came that last time-Kurshed, Sher, Painda, Taz Amin, and Wakil-they beat me themselves. In total, forty people came into the compound-five commanders with their followers.173

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:

At first, when they started to beat me, they beat me with the front and back sides of their AK-47 assault rifles. They beat me for ten minutes. They jabbed me in the back with their AK-47 assault rifles.
They asked me for money-50 or 100 lakhs-and to turn in my weapons. They were threatening me, that they would kill me if I didn't pay. I didn't have money, so they took my two cows. ... They also beat my thirty-year-old son, and my next son, who is twenty-six-years old. They verbally abused the women of my family.174

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:

The looting has continued. Recently, I lost ten sheep. It was five days before Eid ul-Adha [February 22], at 11 p.m. They took my sheep from my barn, inside my compound. We didn't have a dog to bark, and when we woke up, there weren't any sheep. They just left me one sheep-it was lame and crying, and that is why I got up.176

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.

Jadran is the name of a tribe of ethnic Pashtuns, and also the name of at least four villages in Nahrin district inhabited by Jadran Pashtuns. Human Rights Watch spoke to a villager from one of the Jadran villages that had a population of some thirty to forty Pashtun families.

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:

My last harvest was all looted at the time of the change of government [collapse of the Taliban] by Commander Khurshed and his men, and by Commander Gul Rahman. They took 200 sers [1,400 kilograms] of wheat from me. They came with their vehicles and loaded it up. It happened on the first night [following the Taliban collapse]. Between fifty and fifty-five men came to the village.178

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:

I have been beaten and looted. Even the roof of my house has been stolen. I want to cultivate my land, but am not allowed to. It is not only my land-we have been prohibited from farming all of the lands of the village by the Saka people, who are Tajiks. They say that these lands are their pastures [but] we have our land deeds. But right now, there is nowhere to submit our land deeds.179

Other Pashtun Villages in Nahrin District
The situation for Pashtuns in other villages in Nahrin district was similar to those described above. S.M., a displaced Pashtun villager from Usman Khel village, told Human Rights Watch that out of eighteen Pashtun families in Usman Khel, only three remain in the village. He explained that Jamiat soldiers had moved into their family compound: "During the day, these men are with their commander; at night they steal and rob the houses. I had some wheat, and they robbed it from me. They robbed my house after I left, during Ramadan. ...The military men moved into my house after I left, about forty to fifty men live there."180

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

Kilagai Valley

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.

163 Ibid.

164 Ibid.

165 Ibid.

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.

169 Ibid.

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.

173 Ibid.

174 Human Rights Watch interview with A.K., aged fifty-six, March 1, 2002.

175 Ibid.

176 Ibid.

177 Human Rights Watch interview with F.K., aged thirty-five, March 1, 2002.

178 Ibid.

179 Ibid.

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.

185 Ibid.

186 Human Rights Watch interview with D.M., aged thirty-five, Ghararaka, February 25, 2002.

187 Ibid.

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