Afghan commandos killed four at medical clinic: human rights group

Afghan National Army commandos take part in a military exercise at a training center in Herat in this November 11, 2017 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2019

Afghan commandos killed four at medical clinic: human rights group

  • Doctors and hospitals have been frequently targeted during the Afghanistan’s decades-long conflict
  • Afghan special operations forces entered the clinic, the only one operating in Wardak province west of Kabul, on the night of July 8-9

KABUL: Afghan commandos must be prosecuted after they “executed” four civilians during a night raid on a medical clinic in central Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch said Friday.
Doctors and hospitals have been frequently targeted during the country’s decades-long conflict, with 2019 already proving far deadlier than last year for aid workers.
Several witnesses told the US-based non-governmental organization that Afghan special operations forces entered the clinic, the only one operating in Wardak province west of Kabul, on the night of July 8-9.
“They killed a family caregiver and then detained and bound staff and family members accompanying patients,” HRW said in a statement.
Three other people — a lab worker, a guard and another person caring for a patient — were later found dead from gunshots. HRW said they had been “executed.”
“Attacks on medical facilities challenge the very foundations of the laws of war, and will persist if those responsible go unpunished,” HRW’s associate Asia director Patricia Gossman said.
“It’s imperative for the Afghan government to prosecute the commanders who ordered the killings as well as the soldiers who pulled the trigger.”
Neither the Afghan defense ministry nor US forces in Afghanistan immediately commented. It was not clear whether the US military had supported Afghan troops in the raid.
HRW said deliberate attacks on medical facilities and the summary killing of civilians or incapacitated combatants are war crimes.
The clinic — run by the non-governmental Swedish Committee for Afghanistan — was attacked in 2016, allegedly by both international and Afghan army troops. Three people were killed in that incident.
On Wednesday, Toby Lanzer, deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said 2019 has been a deadly year for health and aid workers. So far this year, 77 aid workers have been killed, injured or abducted compared with 76 in all of 2018, he said.
The raid came only hours after a team of Afghan representatives had met with Taliban officials at a historic summit in Doha where parties pledged to reduce civilian casualties to “zero.”


Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

Updated 18 January 2020

Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

  • Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies
  • “We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” a leader said

PIARACU: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s pledge to open up the Amazon to mining companies was tantamount to “genocide,” indigenous leaders said Friday at a meeting to oppose the government’s environmental policies.
Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, which have seen deforestation in the jungle nearly double since the Brazilian leader came to power a year ago.
“Our aim was to join forces and denounce the fact that the Brazilian government’s political policy of genocide, ethnocide and ecocide is under way,” the group said in a draft manifesto drawn up at the end of the summit.
“We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” the text said.
They also said that “government threats and hate speech” had encouraged violence against Amazon communities and demanded punishment for the murder of indigenous leaders.
At least eight indigenous leaders were killed last year.
Brazil’s leading indigenous chief, Raoni Metuktire, said Thursday he would personally travel to the capital Brasilia to present the meeting’s demands to Congress.
“Over there, I’m going to ask Bolsonaro why he speaks so badly about the indigenous peoples,” said the 89-year-old leader of the Kayapo tribe.
Preliminary data collected by the National Institute for Space Research showed an 85 percent increase in Amazon deforestation last year when compared to 2018.