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Glimpses from the sidelines of Loya Jirga

08 Aug 2020 Salam Watandar

KABUL (SW) – On sidelines of the grand consultative ‘Loya Jirga’, a number of instances caught the attention and evoked criticism from social media users.

It ranged from participants not wearing facial masks or adhering to social distancing amid coronavirus pandemic, some sleeping during the session, forceful and violent exit of a protesting participant, Belqis Roshan, the representative of the people of Farah in the Wolesi Jirga, to some even busy in taking selfies during the session.

Images posted on social media show that some of the Loya Jirga participants wore facial masks on their forehead, knees and even backside of their head.

Tariq Elham, a participant at the Loya Jirga, said most participants did not follow social distancing and health tips suggested by health officials. "There was no compliance with the social distancing, especially during dinning time and during the plenary session of the Loya Jirga, there was distribution of masks underway, but no one paid attention to it."

Viral pictures showed that some members were asleep during the meeting and some were busy taking pictures of themselves.

A video of the food being distributed in the Jirga posted online, showed that there are no concerns about the spread of the coronavirus among the participants.

Most prominent in this series was the violent response to the protest by Belqis Roshan, the representative of the people of Farah in the parliament. She protested during President Ghani's speech at the Loya Jirga, chanting "Paying ransom to the savage Taliban is a national betrayal." But, a video posted on social media showed a lady standing up among the participants physically assaulting her and dragging her out of the Jirga.

Some social media users said that the woman who beat Roshan was Nasima Niazi, a representative of the Helmand people in the parliament, but Tariq Elham, a member of the Loya Jirga, said that was not the case. Rashad Hashemi, another member of the Loya Jirga, condemned the violent treatment of Belqis Roshan.

"One of our conversations in this Jirga was that the rights of freedom of expression should be protected, so everyone has the right to raise their voice, and I think the treatment is not acceptable to any of us, because every citizen of Afghanistan has the freedom of speech, to raise voice of protest, and protest is one of the components of democracy”, he said.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Loya Jirga, apologized over treatment of Belqi Roshan and stressed the need to pursue the matter seriously.

The Loya Jirga also issued a statement apologizing to Belqis Roshan.

ENDS

Original Link: https://swn.af/english/Article.aspx?a=56453

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