KUNDUZ AND OTHER PROVINCES
Human Rights Watch researchers did not visit Kunduz province, but interviewed some Pashtuns displaced from Kunduz province on the problems faced by Pashtuns there. In addition, Human Rights Watch has received detailed information from a variety of sources that similar abuses against Pashtuns are also taking place in a number of other provinces, including Herat, Badghis, Sar-i Pul, Jawzjan, and Takhar provinces.
M.A., a fifty-two-year-old farmer from Haji Ghudamdar Shinwari village in the Dasht-e Archi region of Kunduz, fled his home after enduring fifteen days of looting. He told Human Rights Watch: "Some armed people entered my compound and looted my mattresses, five cows, and ten to fifteen sheep and goats.... The men belonged to Commander S., and other commanders from Rostok and Chayab [regions]. They are controlled by Jamiat."188 He estimated that out of the original 300 Pashtun families living in the village, only about twenty remained there now. Nearly forty Pashtun families from the same area were living in his displaced persons camp on the outskirts of Baghlan city.
P.M., aged thirty, fled in early February 2002, from another village in the Dasht-e Archi area called Idgah Masjid. Just prior to fleeing the village, P.M. had been beaten unconscious by ethnic Uzbek soldiers loyal to Jamiat, and his wife had been raped:
P.M.'s wife took him to the hospital after his beating, and had to sell his donkey to pay for the medication. Then, he left for a displaced persons camp on the outskirts of Baghlan city. He said Uzbeks had taken over his village: "Uzbek people have taken our places, have taken our houses. They are living there now."190
In addition to the eyewitness accounts gathered by Human Rights Watch from Balkh, Faryab, Baghlan, Samangan, and Kunduz provinces, a variety of confidential sources and newspaper accounts suggest that similar abuses are taking place in other provinces in northern Afghanistan, including Herat, Badghis, Sar-i Pul, Jawzjan, and Takhar. Although these reports require further investigation to establish the scope and nature of the abuses, they indicate that abuses against ethnic Pashtuns may be occurring throughout northern Afghanistan.
On March 21, 2002, a group of some sixty Pashtun elders from Herat and Badghis provinces traveled to Kandahar province to appeal for international help to stop abuses against Pashtun communities there. Haji Abdul Hameed, a Pashtun elder from Badghis province, told a journalist: "They took our people to prison. They killed our people. They looted our homes and livestock."191
An international assessment team found significant displacement of rural Pashtun villagers to larger urban centers in Sar-i Pul province in January 2002. In Sar-i Pul city, Pashtun displaced persons had been forced to leave a major IDP camp by other ethnic groups. The displaced Pashtuns, mostly from Sozma Qala district, claimed that their communities had been raided by armed groups. Pashtun families had also fled from Sayeed Abad in Sar-i Pul, fleeing similar abuses. At least one Pashtun man had died in the custody of a local commander in Sar-i Pul city, according to confidential sources. The displaced populations from both Sozma Qala and Sayeed Abad claimed that the abuses had been carried out by ethnic Arab Afghans (a community which has lived in Afghanistan for hundreds of years) who had seized power in Sar-i Pul province. 192
Sayed Mohammad, a resident of Farkhar district in Takhar province, told a reporter of the Institute of War and Peace Reporting: "We were driven out of our houses and told by commanders there was no place in the district for us to live."193 Confidential sources estimate that over a thousand Pashtun families have been displaced from Farkhar district because of looting and threats of violence by Jamiat forces. The displaced families claimed that local Tajik Jamiat commanders had engaged in a campaign of expulsion of Pashtun villagers whom they believed had provided support for the Taliban, and that most of the property of the Pashtun communities had been confiscated by Jamiat troops and neighboring armed Tajik communities.194 A spokesperson for the U.N. high commissioner for refugees confirmed that residents of Farkhar province are among new refugees arriving in Pakistan, and that a significant number of the new refugees claim to be fleeing attacks against Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan.195
Confidential sources also report that nomadic Pashtuns in Jawzjan province have faced serious problems. Nomadic Pashtuns claim that thousands of their sheep have been taken, and that seventeen of their elders are being held in detention in Shiberghan.196 Armed groups have also raided Pashtun nomadic sheep herders in the Dasht-i Laili desert, located between Jawzjan and Faryab provinces, stealing many herds of sheep and beating some of the herders.197
188 Human Rights Watch interview with M.A., aged fifty-two, Charshembe Tepa camp, March 1, 2002.
189 Human Rights Watch interview with P.M., aged thirty, Charshembe IDP camp, March 1, 2002.
191 "Pashtun Elders From Northwest Tell of Persecution, Appeal for UN Help," Associated Press, March 22, 2002.
192 Confidential information on file at Human Rights Watch.
193 Abdul Zarmalwal, "Afghanistan: Kabul Officials `Play Down' Pashtun Atrocities," IWPR's Reporting Central Asia, No. 110, March 26, 2002.
194 Confidential information on file at Human Rights Watch.
195 Louis Meixler, "Thousands of Ethnic Pashtuns Fleeing Northern Afghanistan," Associated Press, February 21, 2002.
196 Confidential information on file at Human Rights Watch.