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Wednesday, April 15, 1998 Published at 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK



Despatches

UN report condemns Afghan atrocities
image: [ Afghan fighters turned from killing Russians to attack each other ]
Afghan fighters turned from killing Russians to attack each other

A new UN report on Afghanistan says the human rights situation there has continued to deteriorate, leading to unprecedented violence and a massive loss of life.

The report - submitted to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva - calls for international consultations to halt what it describes as a new tide of human rights violations by both major Afghan factions.

These include torture, arbitrary executions and alleged massacres.

The author, Choong-Hyun Paik, also expressed extreme concern over the fate of women in Taleban controlled areas of Afghanistan, saying that even their right to life was threatened. Pam O'Toole reports

The United Nations report describes how Afghanistan's human rights record has gone from bad to worse, with allegations of massacres in Northern Afghanistan late last year.

These included allegations of thousands of Taleban fighters being executed and buried in mass graves and Hazara Shia villagers being massacred by Taleban troops.

While the report denounced any such killings as grave breaches of international law, it recommends that specialised teams be despatched to establish if - and how - such atrocities took place.

A country divided on ethnic lines

It maintains that Afghanistan's 19 year old conflict has taken on deeper religious and ethnic tones, with the country increasingly divided on ethnic lines and populations being forcibly relocated.

It also describes horrific attacks against ethnic groups, including the gang rape and genital mutilation of three young Hazara children in the capital, Kabul.

Meanwhile, the Taleban's Islamic rule had turned Kabul into a virtual ghost town, with economic hardship and fear of harassment by the Taleban religious police keeping people at home.

The report says Taleban bans on education for girls and employment for women left women in a dire predicament.

Effectively excluded from all aspects of the country's economic social and political life, they were increasingly disempowered. In Kabul, sexual harassment is reported to be increasing, despite a Taleban edict that all women wear the all enveloping burqa.

According to the UN report, the suicide rate among women is rising.






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