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President’s visit to Bamyan prompts protest

Security personnel beat journalists; same projects inaugurated for second time

By Mansoor Faizy-KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani, leading a high-level delegation, reached on Monday in central Bamyan province and inaugurated the provincial airport and the Maidan Shahr-Bamyan highway. However, his arrival prompted protests in the city.

According to the local officials and residents the projects were inaugurated for the second time.

After his arrival, President Ghani inaugurated Shaheed Abdul Ali Mazari Airport and Maidan Shahr-Bamyan highway.

Second Vice-President Sarwar Danish, and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Mohaqiq, and some members of the Cabinet and foreign diplomats attended the inauguration ceremony.

However, a civil society activist who is also a member of the Human Rights Commission, Ismail Zaki told Afghanistan Times that the Maidan Shahr-Bamyan highway and Shaheed Abdul Ali Mazari Airport were inaugurated eight months ago by provincial officials.

“We don’t know what the government is doing? The leaders inaugurate same projects for fifth and tenth time,” he said.

“Maidan Shahr-Bamyan highway was once inaugurated by deputy provincial governor, however, today (Monday) President Ghani inaugurated this project for the second time. The construction work was started during former President Hamid Karzai’s tenure,” he added.

Before President Ghani’s arrival, a number of civil society activists in Bamyan took out to the streets, demanding a change in route of a multi-million massive power project, Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP).

“Security forces and the presidential guards detained seven people of Junbish-e-Milli on Sunday night. The guards came from Kabul to the city,” he said.

“We sent a delegation to the center in a bid to release the arrested people, but they were not released,” he said, adding that they sent another delegation to the deputy governor’s office, and warned that they would not attend the inauguration ceremony until the activists were released.

He went on to say: “Security forces detained two more protestors, and also dispersed the demonstrators. Unfortunately, it was around Monday 12:00 AM that presidential guards that arrived from Kabul to the province, took cameras and beaten two journalists,” he said.

According to NAI, an NGO Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, security forces tried to detain journalists who were covering an anti-government demonstration in Bamyan province.

Condemning torture and harassment of journalists in Bamyan, NIA in a statement said that Sayed Mohammad Hashemi of Jumhoor News Agency, IIyas Tahir of Radio Watandar, Najibullah Ulfat of local radio Nasim, Eshaq Akrami of Killid and Abbas Nadiri were among the reporters who were beaten by security forces.

Cameras, mobile phones and other equipment belonging to journalists were also confiscated by security forces, NAI added.

Nasrullah Mosadaq, a resident of Bamyan, said that police did not allow people to welcome President Ashraf Ghani in a better manner.

“The people of Bamyan were about to welcome the delegation, but the interference of police caused the leaders to come quietly,” he said.

Another resident, Sediq Zaliq, said the President and CEO have no place among people. “Therefore, they now use force to stop people from protests and suppress them from showing their emotions,” he said.

Beating journalists in Bamyan is aimed to stop them from coverage of the protests, he said.

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