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Afghan security forces kill six civilians during insurgent raid

Afghan security forces kill six civilians during insurgent raid

1 Day The Guardian The Guardian

The deaths come as UN reveals pro-government forces killed more civilians than insurgents in first three months of 2019Afghan security forces have killed at least six civilians, including a woman and two children, in a night raid on insurgents, government officials said.The group were in a car and soldiers mistook them for Taliban trying to escape the area, a spokesman for the provincial governor told the Associated Press. Attahullah Khogyani said 10 militants were also killed in the attack, in eastern Nangarhar province. Continue reading...

American who fought for Taliban to be freed despite security fears

American who fought for Taliban to be freed despite security fears

23 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

John Walker Lindh due for early release despite report saying he still had extremist views in 2016John Walker Lindh, the American captured in 2001 fighting for the Taliban, is to be released early from federal prison despite some US politicians expressing concerns he may still be a security risk.Lindh, photographed as a wild-eyed, bearded 20-year-old when captured in Afghanistan, will leave a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, on probation on Thursday after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence, according to a prison official. Related: America's 'detainee 001' – the persecution of John Walker Lindh Continue reading...

Afghan public health chief settles in UK after kidnap by Taliban

Afghan public health chief settles in UK after kidnap by Taliban

23 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Dr Mohammad Haqmal, who developed groundbreaking health initiatives in Aghanistan, granted refugee statusA senior Afghan government official has been given sanctuary in the UK after being kidnapped and tortured by the Taliban.Dr Mohammad Haqmal, 42, is a public health chief of international standing, who developed a series of groundbreaking programmes in his home country. He was forced to flee Afghanistan after his kidnap. On Monday he was awarded Public Health National Hero 2019 – the second time he has won the award – in absentia for his work by the Afghanistan parliament. Continue reading...

MoD plans to grant veterans amnesty condemned by UN

MoD plans to grant veterans amnesty condemned by UN

17 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

UN committee against torture concerned by law pardoning troops accused of ill-treatmentMinistry of Defence plans to grant military veterans amnesty from prosecution for historic offences have been condemned by a United Nations body.In sharply worded criticism, the Geneva-based UN committee against torture calls on the UK government to “refrain from enacting legislation that would grant amnesty or pardon” to troops accused of ill-treatment. Continue reading...

The Guardian view on prosecuting war crimes: no one is above the law | Editorial

The Guardian view on prosecuting war crimes: no one is above the law | Editorial

15 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

The new defence secretary ought to understand that the rule of law can only be upheld by observing itThe limelight was always going to be on Penny Mordaunt as defence secretary. A Brexiter accused by the last prime minister of lying to win, she is now touted as Theresa May’s emotionally intelligent successor. She did nothing to dispel such speculation with a speech on Wednesday, promising to protect soldiers from “lawfare” – a pejorative term coined to describe the use of a country’s legal system to undermine its defences. Ms Mordaunt said she would seek a presumption against prosecution for offences committed in conflict more than a decade ago – covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and seek a future opt-out of the European convention on human rights.This is part of a familiar narrative about the hounding of British soldiers by what is claimed are money-grabbing lawyers launching ill-founded cases into alleged wartime abuse. It is true that one lawyer who acted for torture victims was found guilty of misconduct and struck off as a solicitor. But the work of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team also saw the Ministry of Defence paying out millions of pounds in compensation to victims of abuse in hundreds of cases. Modern armies have to comply with international humanitarian law and are rightly held to account if they don’t. This ought not impede conflict and post-conflict operations. It should ensure they are legal. Ending violations would end the litigation. There are about 150 cases outstanding; alleged victims and perpetrators ought to see justice. Continue reading...

Mordaunt to give veterans amnesty for battle crimes

Mordaunt to give veterans amnesty for battle crimes

14 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Defence secretary to consult on proposals for offences committed over 10 years agoThe new defence secretary has promised to introduce an amnesty on historical prosecutions for military veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else around the world – with the exception of Northern Ireland.Penny Mordaunt will consult on proposals for a presumption against prosecution for offences committed more than 10 years ago and will say she supports plans to opt out of the European convention on human rights (ECHR) in future armed conflicts. Continue reading...

'There is less fear': restoration of Kabul repairs the ravages of war

'There is less fear': restoration of Kabul repairs the ravages of war

13 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Afghanistan rebuilds the old town and creates register of dwellings to promote peace and help residents feel saferAmir Gol first arrived in Kabul after fleeing his home – a Taliban stronghold – in Nangahar. He had no idea where to settle, so he rented a small mud house and started collecting and selling used plastic to make a living. Almost a decade later, little has changed for the 60-year old father of eleven. He sits cross-legged on a cushion outside the house he rents for 600 Afghani (£5) a month. Occasionally, he says, members of insurgent groups come to his neighbourhood, a settlement specked with poorly constructed mud houses and plastic tents in the city’s outskirts. Continue reading...

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HotDocs festival 2019: portraits of conflicts and compassion excel

HotDocs festival 2019: portraits of conflicts and compassion excel

12 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Toronto’s documentary festival showcased harrowing stories from Syria and Afghanistan, alongside life-affirming talesIt was a strong year for North America’s biggest documentary festival, HotDocs, in Toronto. Unlike most documentary festivals, this one offers free daytime screenings for students and senior citizens, engaging the public and paving the way for lively post-film conversations. The main buzz was created by Knock Down the House, a film about congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which launched on Netflix during the festival; and nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, about generations of injustice against the First Nations people in Canada.But for me, two self-shot stories about heartbreak and losing everything stood out. For Sama rightly won the festival’s special jury prize for international feature documentary. It was made from video diaries shot in Aleppo by the young journalist Waad al-Kateab, whose harrowing hospital videos of the aftermath of bombings were previously broadcast to much acclaim on Channel 4 News. Co-directed with Edward Watts, For Sama follows Kateab’s story from the early days of the uprising to the fall of her city. What comes in between is hard but important to watch, with her doctor husband and his colleagues attending to the dusty, traumatised bodies of babies and children. There’s a near-constant soundtrack of the wailing of parents whose worlds have collapsed. Continue reading...

Afghan journalist Mena Mangal shot dead in Kabul

11 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Former TV presenter and cultural adviser for lower house of parliament is killedAn Afghan journalist and adviser to the country’s parliament in Kabul has been shot and killed by one or more unidentified gunman, an official has said.Mena Mangal, a cultural adviser for the lower house of parliament and former TV presenter, was killed when she was on her way to work in the capital city on Saturday morning. Continue reading...

Global neglect of millions forced from their homes by conflict branded 'pitiful'

Global neglect of millions forced from their homes by conflict branded 'pitiful'

10 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Top official condemns lack of focus on record 41 million people left homeless in their own countries after fleeing violenceRecord numbers of people have been forced from their homes by conflict in a crisis that has received “pitiful” international attention, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council has said.A total of 41.3 million people were living in a state of internal displacement by the end of 2018 due to violence, researchers for the organisation found, with increasing numbers unable to return home for protracted periods. This is a rise of more than a million on the previous year.Because they haven’t crossed a border, they receive pitiful global attention Related: 'We will lose any hope of going home': Rohingya live in fear of resettlement Continue reading...

Video of joyful Afghan boy dancing on new prosthetic leg goes viral

09 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Ahmad Rahman had to have his leg amputated after he was shot as a baby in Logar provinceWhen Ahmad Rahman was eight months old he and his sister, Salima, were injured when fighting broke out between Afghan government forces and the Taliban in their village in Logar province. Rahman was shot in the leg, which was later amputated.His story is one of tens of thousands in Afghanistan, of people losing limbs due to war, but a video of him testing out his new prosthetic leg has provided a moment of joy. Related: 'When I get tired of it all, I escape into poetry': book clubs bloom in Afghanistan Continue reading...

Beaming young Afghan amputee dances on new prosthetic leg – video

08 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Video of a young Afghan boy dancing for joy with his new prosthetic leg has gone viral. The video, shot by physiotherapist Mulkara Rahimi, shows Ahmad Rahman rejoicing after finishing four years of physiotherapy which gave him full control over his new prosthetic leg. Ahmad, 5, was only eight months' old when he was shot during fighting in his village Continue reading...

Taliban attack Afghanistan office of US aid group

Taliban attack Afghanistan office of US aid group

08 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Fifteen wounded in Kabul bombing and gunfight, raising fears over latest peace talksThe Taliban have attacked the offices of a US aid group in the heart of the Afghan capital on Wednesday with a car bomb, claiming the group promoted western traditions and mixing between men and women.The attack, which came as US negotiators try to reach a peace deal with the Taliban, is likely to fuel concerns of critics who say the militant group cannot be trusted to protect women’s rights and other freedoms, whatever they might pledge at the negotiating table. Continue reading...

'When I get tired of it all, I escape into poetry': book clubs bloom in Afghanistan

'When I get tired of it all, I escape into poetry': book clubs bloom in Afghanistan

07 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Reading groups are springing up across Kabul, broadening youthful horizons in a country where books are often censoredIn a dimly lit room in west Kabul, stacked with shelves full of books, a small crowd gathers around the warmth of a gas heater. Books clamped under their arms, they are eager to share the stories they’ve read over the course of the week.Members of Afghanistan’s youngest reading club, the Book Cottage, range in age from four to 13. The club is just one of many reading circles that are springing up across the capital and reviving a book culture that, once lost, is now vibrant, liberal and expanding once again. Related: Defying the Taliban: Afghanistan's secret schools for girls – podcast Continue reading...

More Afghan civilians killed by Nato-led forces than Taliban in 2019

More Afghan civilians killed by Nato-led forces than Taliban in 2019

26 Apr 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

It is first time since UN began collecting figures that pro-government forces have caused majority of deathsThe Afghan government and its international backers killed more civilians in the first three months of 2019 than the Taliban and other insurgent groups, the United Nations has said.It was the first time since the UN began tracking civilian casualties in Afghanistan over a decade ago that pro-government forces have caused a majority of deaths. Related: ICC rejects request to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan Continue reading...

Afghan telecoms ministry hit by blast as attackers enter Kabul building

Afghan telecoms ministry hit by blast as attackers enter Kabul building

20 Apr 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Officials report gunfire as unknown attackers battle security forces in Afghan capital An explosion has hit the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul and unidentified attackers appear to have entered a multistorey building housing the communications ministry where they were battling security forces, officials have said.Gunfire could be clearly heard by witnesses in Kabul on Saturday, but the area around the site was cordoned off by security forces. Related: 'I lost consciousness': woman whipped by the Taliban over burqa without veil | Haroon Janjua Continue reading...

'I lost consciousness': woman whipped by the Taliban over burqa without veil | Haroon Janjua

'I lost consciousness': woman whipped by the Taliban over burqa without veil | Haroon Janjua

18 Apr 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Aziza’s story reflects the growing number of violent public assaults on women deemed to be in breach of sharia law in Afghanistan One of four women who was recently subjected to a brutal public lashing by armed Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has spoken about her experience, amid an increase of violent punishments given to those violating its strict interpretation of religious law.Aziza, who like many other Afghan women only uses one name, was rounded up by the Taliban’s shadow police for being out of her house without her husband and not being fully veiled. She was beaten so badly she lost consciousness. Related: Afghan women still jailed alongside murderers for 'failing' virginity test | Fariba Housaini Continue reading...