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HRW voices grave concern amid surging attacks on activists

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KABUL: A high-level Human Rights Watch (HRW) official have voiced grave concerns regarding targeted attacks in Afghanistan, saying threats and attacks against activists and critics in the country appeared to be sharply on the rise.

Patricia Gossman, HRW’s associate director for the Asia division, expected the institutions concerned would take serious action to protect the lives of human rights activists in Afghanistan.

In an interview with RFE/RL, she said identifying criminals and enforcing the law would help reduce such threats.

“The situation in Afghanistan is very worrisome. Threats and attacks on activists (peace activists) and critics seem to be on the rise. We do not know who is behind it all. At the moment, the government doesn’t seem to be capable of bringing the perpetrators to justice and thus many people do not believe that other such threats and attacks can be properly investigated and the perpetrators accounted for.”

Fawzia Kufi, a Taliban critic and member of the Afghan government’s peace negotiating team, was wounded in a car bomb attack by gunmen on August 14 on the way to Qarabagh district.

The former member of the Wolesi Jirga, speaking from the hospital where she is admitted, said that the intention to kill women made the gunmen sharper and more honed. 

Moreover, Saba Sahar, the deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s gender department and one of the country’s filmmakers, was also wounded in an attack by gunmen in Kabul on Tuesday. She on her way to office from home when she was attacked in the 8th Police District of capital Kabul city.

Zaman Soltani, Amnesty International’s regional researcher in South Asia, says the government should take action to prevent such attacks. “We are deeply concerned about the increase in attacks on human rights activists, political activists, journalists, and filmmakers. The government has a responsibility to pursue such attacks seriously and effectively. The perpetrators of such attacks must be brought to book. The government is responsible for the protection and support of those who come under threats.”

This is while no group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks on Kofi and Sahar.

However, it’s pertinent to mention that Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president, blamed the Taliban two days after the attack on Kofi. He wrote on Facebook that only the Taliban and their allies were interested in silencing and eliminating the diversity of Afghan society.

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