Coalition catalogues Taliban atrocities
Friday November 23, 2001
The Guardian (UK)
Downing Street and the White House yesterday attempted to bolster public support for the next stage of the war in Afghanistan, publishing a list of 22 "examples of Taliban and al-Qaida atrocities". With the former Afghan regime preparing for a last stand at Kandahar, the coalition information centre (CIC) has gone on the offensive. The catalogue of massacres, rapes and mutilations is aimed at stiffening resolve in the west for what may be the costly task of defeating Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.
"Al-Qaida and the Taliban told us at their press conference that it is time to 'forget' their murder of thousands of innocent people from more than 80 countries on September 11," the five-page document declares. "As president Bush has said: 'We will never forget all the innocent people killed by the hatred of a few'. Presumably al-Qaida and the Taliban would like the world to forget about their atrocities against the innocent."
The document was drawn up by the CIC - a transatlantic cooperation involving press offices in Whitehall and Washington - to counter anti-western propaganda.
Downing Street's contributions are sourced from British newspapers and television stations, some American extracts are from the US state department and the department of defence, and others are from Human Rights Watch.
Among cases reported in the document are:
· The "castration" of the former Afghan president, Najibullah in 1996. The Taliban "dragged his body behind a jeep for several rounds of the palace and then shot him dead".
· The 1998 massacre of 600 Uzbeks in the province of Faryab. "Western aid workers... said civilians were dragged from their homes, lined up and shot."
· After the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 the Taliban indulged in the "frenzied killing of shop owners, cart pullers, women and children shoppers". Women and girls were raped, and 2,000-5,000 civilians, mainly ethnic Hazaras, were massacred.
· The public execution in Yakaolang of at least 170 civilians, mainly from humanitarian organisations. "According to Amnesty International, eyewitnesses reported the deliberate killing of dozens of civilians hiding in a mosque."
Other reports include accounts from refugees and human rights groups of the beating of infants, killing of children and hanging of bodies from lampposts.
The report does not mention the actions of other Afghan factions during the 20-year civil war.
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