Thursday, December 11, 2014

Afghan President's Hypocrisy on Torture

Amid the global reaction (and here) to the release of the summary of the Senate's CIA torture report, one reaction stood out to me, and that was the reaction of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the newly elected President of Afghanistan.
The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has described detailed revelations of US torture as “shocking” and “inhumane”, and demanded to know how many Afghans had been debased in grim facilities inside their own country.
The recently elected leader promised to defend the dignity of those who had been jailed, and gave notice that from the start of next year no foreign organisation would have the right to detain or torture Afghans.
“This is a vicious cycle. When a person is tortured in an inhumane way, the reaction will be inhumane,” Ghani told a specially convened news conference in Kabul. “There can be no justification for these kinds of actions and inhumane torture in today’s world.”
While this is a welcome comment angry at the illegal torture of Afghans, there is a problem with the President's reaction, and that is the Dasht-i-Leili massacre in 2001 at the beginning of the US invasion of Afghanistan and the current Vice President, Abdul Rashid Dostum, who was on the CIA payroll, has been widely accused of orchestrating the massacre and tampering with evidence of the mass killing.” (link)

Bush and Obama impeded investigations into war crimes (YouTube)

Ghani's views on Dostum have changed over the years
Dostum has been implicated in numerous human rights violations, including possible war crimes. In a 2009 story published in "The London Times" newspaper, Ghani called Dostum a "known killer."
After the election Ghani changed his view of Dostum, and like Obama on torture, now is only looking forward.
Ghani has taken a major risk with his moderate, technocrat reputation by choosing widely-feared Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum as his first running mate.
Dostum is accused of killing hundreds of Taliban prisoners in 2001 along with countless other alleged abuses, and Ghani himself described Dostum as a “known killer” in 2009 when criticizing Karzai for being too close to him.
For Ghani, the choice is simply another example of his realism.
“Politics is not a love marriage, politics is product of historical necessities,” he said.
“The key issue is that he’s popular... Our agreement is on the future, sharing common interests and building Afghanistan, and this team is the strongest indication of reconciliation with the past.”
There was even speculation because of the tensions with Dostum that Abdullah Abdullah wouldn't show up to the inauguration after being given a newly created position in the government as Chief Executive Officer as a resolution to the contested election with Ashraf Ghani.

We need to face the history of torture whether it be the United States, Afghanistan or Brazil, Israel or anywhere else and prosecute those responsible, whether it was our own troops doing the torture in the Philippines, or these other examples, especially since we taught most of them how to torture in the first place.

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