In the name of Almighty Allah
Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN), West Coordination Center
Statement regarding bombardment of civilians in Azizabad village of Herat province in Afghanistan
28. 08. 2008, Herat Province of Afghanistan
The bombardment by international military forces of Aziz Abad village in Shindand district of Herat province has upset the whole Afghan community, in particular the residents of the western provinces. The bombardment caused the death of 91 civilians, injured a large number of civilian persons and put the residents of that village into very difficult psychological and physical conditions and threatening their personal, social and economic security.
The residents of Herat province want to understand why the military forces, who came to bring peace and stability, killed innocent persons. With deep concern we have to state that this incident has greatly put into danger the mission of the international military forces as well as the international community in general.
Poverty, hunger, harsh environmental conditions, and social problems such as corruption and organized crime pose important threats to the Afghan government in the western region. Three decades of war have in addition caused severe psychological problems for the residents. Such an environment is a fertile soil for adversaries of human rights to create opposition towards human rights values.
The presence of the international community is legitimate according to Afghan and international law. That is why all the Afghans know that the international community came to work with Afghans to rehabilitate their ruined and poor country into a peaceful and legitimate state. However, the killing of innocent civilians significantly strengthens the enemies of human rights values. The UN declaration of the Security Council stipulates that the international military forces are in Afghanistan for ensuring peace, stability of the state and to build the capacities of the national security forces.
This is not the first time that civilians get killed; irreparable mistakes like this have frequently happened. The results of these military actions which are against international rules reveal a big discrepancy between the objectives and the actual effects of the efforts of the international community.
Intellectuals, civil society organizations and defenders of human rights in the west of Afghanistan in coordination with the civil society and human rights network, express their deepest concern about this recent incident and raise the following points:
• The UN organizations should investigate this incident, make the different causes for it understood and publicly known.
• The Afghan government and international organizations, in recognition of the victims and their relatives, should offer indemnity to the survivors by means of material and spiritual support.
• The Afghan government, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense, should ensure the adherence to international rules in Afghanistan and ask from the international community to respect international humanitarian law and human rights during operations and to fully recognize its responsibility for this incident.
• The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in coordination with national human rights institutions, the Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSRHN) and international human rights organizations should focus more on the international forces in Afghanistan in order to ensure that they act in accordance with national and international laws and respect international human rights standards and laws.
• We welcome the statement of the minister council and the president saying that the bombardment of Aziz Abad village contradicts the Afghan constitution which claims safety for Afghan citizens. We request that the commission that was organized by the Afghan government to follow up on this subject, informs the Afghan people about the progress of their work as soon as possible.
• Methods of combat should be changed in such a way that civilians do not get killed.
The civil society organizations in the western region announce through this statement their agreement and conviction that this last incident may cause opposition against the government and the presence of the international community in Afghanistan, if no material and spiritual programs are set up to deal with the negative effects of this incident.
For Peace and security in Afghanistan
Civil Society and Human Rights Network Coordination Center in the West region, Representatives of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in the West region,
Civil society organisations of Western region, intellectuals and human rights defenders of Western region of Afghanistan