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UN rights chief tells US, Britain to prevent Afghan bloodbath

13 Nov 2001

UN Nations Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson Tuesday urged Britain and the United States to ensure the ouster of the Taliban from Kabul by opposition forces does not end in a bloodbath.

Robinson also demanded that other nations involved in the military campaign share the responsibility for shielding civilians from marauding warlords and retaliatory massacres in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan.

"A number of cities are changing hands from the Taliban to the Northern Alliance opposition forces in the recent days," Robinson said, voicing her fears of a looming anarchy in the country she said had been "torn by 20 years of conflict and a drought." "It is extremely important that the message should go out and I look particularly to the United States and Britain and the countries that are involved in the military strategy to make it very clear that there will be no toleration of massacres, of rapes and abuse of civilians.

"If it happens, there will be justice against the perpertators. In other words there will be no longer impunity. My office is in the process of mapping out just how bad the situation has been in Afghanistan," she said.

She spoke of a bloody massacre carried out by the Taliban militia in January and a reported copycat bloodbath by the opposition forces of the Northern Alliance later in the year.

"Both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance have abused and massacred and created total human rights violations against civilians in Afghanistan.

"There have been some leaders of the Northern Alliance who have very bad human rights records," Robinson said.

Although Robinson said the United States had the right to retaliate for the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington by ordering the strikes in Afghanistan, the UN commissioner said she was "deeply concerned by the civilian casualties" in the bombings.

"There should be no more killing or damage to civilian life," Robinson said, and added her department will soon begin to monitor such sufferings.

"They are a priority concern to the human rights commissioner," she added.

Robinson also said the United Nations has just received reports that humanitarian aid had been looted in Kabul following the march of opposition forces into the capital of the war-torn country.

"There have already been some reports of looting of humanitarian aid and there is a fear that the situation could turn worse. That would be tragic for the entire civilian population," Robinson said.

She said the United Nations was also concerned about the local aid workers on the ground. Foreign aid workers were pulled out of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia was formed in 1993 to combat rising religious intolerance in South Asia and to campaign for peace and justice in the region. We are committed to working towards a just, non-violent resolution of the crisis we are currently living through. If you are interested in joining us in this work, please call 617-983-3934 or e-mail

5 Feb 2007

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