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British Museum to return looted Afghan artefacts found at Heathrow

British Museum to return looted Afghan artefacts found at Heathrow

08 Jul 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Buddhist heads likely removed by Taliban will go on display before being sent to KabulFourth-century Buddhist terracotta heads probably hacked off by the Taliban and found stuffed in poorly made wooden crates at Heathrow are to be returned to Afghanistan where they will be star museum exhibits.The British Museum gave details on Monday of one of the most significant repatriation cases it has dealt with relating to the illegal looting of artefacts from Afghanistan and Iraq. Continue reading...

Afghan car bomb kills 12 and wounds dozens, including students

Afghan car bomb kills 12 and wounds dozens, including students

07 Jul 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Attack on security forces in Ghazni comes as conference including Taliban starts in DohaA car bomb in central Afghanistan has killed at least eight members of the security forces and four civilians and wounded dozens, many of them students attending a nearby school.Hasan Raza Yousafi, a provincial council member, said the target of Sunday’s suicide attack was an intelligence unit compound in Ghazni, the capital of the province of the same name. Related: US peace envoy hails latest talks with Taliban as 'most productive' to date Continue reading...

US peace envoy hails latest talks with Taliban as 'most productive' to date

US peace envoy hails latest talks with Taliban as 'most productive' to date

06 Jul 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Zalmay Khalilzad said progress had been made on all four parts of a peace deal as two sides to resume meeting from Tuesday in QatarThe US peace envoy leading talks with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan said on Saturday the latest discussions were the “most productive session” to date.Zalmay Khalilzad said substantive progress had been made on all four parts of a peace deal: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, participation in Intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. Related: 'It's ripped families apart': the border wall no one is talking about Continue reading...

'It's ripped families apart': the border wall no one is talking about

'It's ripped families apart': the border wall no one is talking about

05 Jul 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Construction of a fence along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, one of the world’s most dangerous crossings, is splintering families while failing to halt the flow of smugglers and terroristsKeramat used to visit her sons all the time, crossing the border between her home in Afghanistan’s Kunar province into Pakistan, where they live and work.But a fence built to mark a border between the two countries, which has not been recognised by the Afghan government, has made the 55-year-old’s journey much longer, and more bureaucratic. Related: End all immigration controls – they’re a sign we value money more than people | Gary Younge Continue reading...

Canada: trial of Taliban hostage accused of abusing wife resumes after delay

Canada: trial of Taliban hostage accused of abusing wife resumes after delay

03 Jul 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Joshua Boyle faces 19 charges including sexual assaultBoyle and wife Caitlan Coleman spent five years in captivityThe trial of Joshua Boyle, the former hostage of a Taliban-linked group in Afghanistan who was accused of violence against his wife, has resumed after the court ruled it would hear testimony about the couple’s sexual history.Boyle was arrested at the couple’s former Ottawa apartment on New Year’s Eve 2017, just two months after he and Caitlan Coleman were released from five years of Taliban captivity. Related: US woman kidnapped in Afghanistan tells court how she escaped ex-husband Continue reading...

'Look without looting': the Imperial War Museum charts a history of destruction

'Look without looting': the Imperial War Museum charts a history of destruction

03 Jul 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

From burning books to bombed Buddhas, a new exhibition looks at the cultural destruction of war – and the controversial reconstruction efforts that followPickaxes, dynamite, anti-aircraft guns – the Taliban had tried everything to destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas, which had towered for 15 centuries in a pair of niches cut into the mountains in northern Afghanistan. But, after days of assaults, the majestic statues still wouldn’t budge. “This work of destruction is not as simple as people might think,” lamented the Taliban’s information minister, Qudratullah Jamal in March 2001, midway through their frenzied campaign to erase the figures, which they had decreed to be blasphemous idols. “You can’t knock down the statues by shelling as both are carved into a cliff; they are firmly attached to the mountain.”What Remains is at the Imperial War Memorial, London, from 5 July until 5 January. Continue reading...

'Not welcome' in Australia: from Tampa refugee to Fulbright scholar, via New Zealand

'Not welcome' in Australia: from Tampa refugee to Fulbright scholar, via New Zealand

23 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

New Zealand gave a home, and hope, to Abbas Nazari. He wishes all refugee children could be given the same chanceAbbas Nazari was stranded on a ship in the Indian ocean when he first heard the words “New Zealand”.Then aged 7, Nazari’s mother, father and four siblings were among 433 asylum seekers, predominantly of the ethnic minority Hazaras of Afghanistan, plucked from a sinking fishing boat by the Norwegian cargo ship, the Tampa. They were later transferred to the HMAS Manoora, where they waited for asylum after Australia refused to accept them; creating an international quagmire over which country would, or should, offer sanctuary on humanitarian grounds. Related: Tampa refugee taken in by New Zealand wins Fulbright scholarship Congratulations to @theabbasnazari . Continue reading...

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Rory Stewart, the Black Watch veteran shaking up the Tory leadership race

Rory Stewart, the Black Watch veteran shaking up the Tory leadership race

18 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

His video campaigning and public walkabouts has brought high-profile backers and changed contest’s termsTory leadership race – latest updatesThree weeks ago, Rory Stewart was holding a wobbly camera at Kew Gardens, trying to combine a fledgling leadership campaign with a trip to see conservationists there to talk about his day job at the Department for International Development.Apart from his documentaries on Afghanistan or his energetic defence of Theresa May’s Brexit deal on any radio station that would have him, few people outside of Westminster knew much about the Eton-educated Black Watch veteran. Related: If you think Rory Stewart is the grownup choice, think again | Ash Sarkar Continue reading...

Tampa refugee taken in by New Zealand wins Fulbright scholarship

Tampa refugee taken in by New Zealand wins Fulbright scholarship

17 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

‘Given the chance at a new life, we have grabbed it with both hands,’ Abbas Nazari saysOne of the asylum seekers the Norwegian cargo ship Tampa rescued in 2001 has won a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to undertake postgraduate studies in the US.Abbas Nazari was seven years old when his family boarded a fishing boat from Indonesia to Australia. He was one of more than 430 people, predominantly of the ethnic minority Hazaras of Afghanistan, who were caught up in an international standoff when the boat foundered.Congratulations to @theabbasnazari .Welcoming the Tampa refugees was one of my proudest moments as Foreign Minister as part of the @HelenClarkNZ. Amazing to see the achievement and contribution to NZ they are making now. Congratulations Abbas - you are a great example to all of us! https://t.co/ecpVqC3lfY Continue reading...

Man granted visa to see son collect doctorate says he is 'in a dream'

Man granted visa to see son collect doctorate says he is 'in a dream'

12 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Home Office initially refused to grant visa to Scottish Refugee Council chief executive’s fatherThe 79-year-old father of the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council has said he felt he was “in a dream” as he watched his son receive an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University, after the Home Office initially refused to grant him a visit visa.The department reversed its decision on Sabir Zazai’s father after the Guardian highlighted his case, following a public outcry and repeated questions in parliament. Continue reading...

Patients sleep under the stars in long queue for medical visas | Stefanie Glinski

Patients sleep under the stars in long queue for medical visas | Stefanie Glinski

12 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Sick and elderly Afghans queue outdoors for several nights for their chance to get into Pakistan for medical careSurrounded by barbed wire and without shelter from rain or dust, outside Pakistan’s embassy, hundreds of sick Afghans pass days and nights waiting for their visa appointment.Abdul Ajan is first in the queue for when the embassy opens the next morning, squeezed into a space that smells of urine and is littered with rubbish and stale bread. Related: 'There is less fear': restoration of Kabul repairs the ravages of war Continue reading...

Afghanistan’s football president banned for life for sexual abuse

Afghanistan’s football president banned for life for sexual abuse

08 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

• Keramuudin Karim fined a million Swiss dollars• Fifa says he abused his position of powerThe suspended Afghanistan Football Federation president, Keramuudin Karim, has been banned for life from all football-related activity and fined a million Swiss dollars by Fifa following an investigation finding him guilty of “having abused his position and sexually abused various female players, in violation of the Fifa code of ethics”.“The investigation into Mr Karim concerned the complaints lodged by at least five Afghani female football players, accusing him of repeated sexual abuse in the period 2013-2018, abusing his function as president of the AFF. Continue reading...

Fifa aware of Afghanistan sexual abuse allegations two years ago, according to emails

Fifa aware of Afghanistan sexual abuse allegations two years ago, according to emails

06 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

• Fifa has said it was told of the claims in early 2018• Questions raised over Asian Football Confederation account tooFifa and Asian football’s governing body were made aware of sexual abuse allegations against senior Afghanistan football officials and a coach more than two years ago, according to emails seen by the Guardian.The Asian Football Confederation said late last year, after Afghanistan women’s national team players made detailed allegations of sexual and physical abuse, that it had received no complaints of abuse. Continue reading...

'They went to crazy lengths' - amazing Afghan films the world never got to see

'They went to crazy lengths' - amazing Afghan films the world never got to see

06 Jun 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

From the Afghan Abigail’s Party to the thriller made with live bullets, Mariam Ghani, daughter of the country’s president, has made a riveting documentary about five unfinished communist-era films‘I don’t know if I was completely prepared for my parents moving back to Afghanistan,” says Mariam Ghani, a Brooklyn-based film-maker whose father, Ashraf Ghani, is now Afghan president. She was 23 at the time and had never set foot in the country. After the fall of the Taliban, post 9/11, her father worked as an adviser to the interim government, before he was elected president in 2014. Ghani become a regular visitor, exploring the country by making art, which for her is a peculiarly nerdy process.“I love archives,” says Ghani, who is now in her 40s. “I once organised a conference on radical archives.” She has even created her own: Index of the Disappeared. “It’s an archive of the human cost of post 9/11 US policies.” The archive covers a lot of things, from the US facility in Bagram where two Afghan civilians were murdered in 2002 to increased censorship and government secrecy in the US. Continue reading...

Historical war crimes: an amnesty for British soldiers?

29 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Defence secretary Penny Mordaunt has promised to introduce a ‘presumption against prosecution’ on historical prosecutions for military veterans. Samira Shackle looks back at the collapse of the investigation into abuse allegations in Iraq, while Conservative MP Johnny Mercer argues that soldiers have been unfairly hounded. Also today: Emma John looks ahead to the Cricket World CupEarlier this month, the new defence secretary, Penny Mordaunt, promised to introduce a “presumption against prosecution” on historical allegations of abuse for military veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else around the world – with the exception of Northern Ireland.Journalist Samira Shackle has previously investigated the collapse of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team for the Guardian and describes how many of those cases were thrown out after a lawyer, who acted for many of the alleged victims, was found guilty of misconduct and struck off as a solicitor. Continue reading...

'Senseless': attacks on schools soar in Afghanistan – report

'Senseless': attacks on schools soar in Afghanistan – report

28 May 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Unicef research shows more than 1,000 schools were closed by the end of last year due to ongoing conflictAttacks on schools in Afghanistan tripled between 2017 and 2018, surging from 68 to 192, according to the UN children’s agency, Unicef, the first increase since 2015.According to figures collected by the agency, the ongoing conflict had left more than 1,000 schools closed by the end of last year, with half a million children unable to get an education. Continue reading...

Afghan security forces kill six civilians during insurgent raid

Afghan security forces kill six civilians during insurgent raid

25 May 2019 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...