Herat residents disabled by Taliban urge militants to cease terrorist acts
HERAT -- Dozens of disabled Herat citizens, many of whom lost limbs from Taliban bombings, gathered to denounce the group's terrorists acts and urged them to cease their violent campaign.
The disabled residents chanted slogans against the war and the Taliban in the evening of July 2 in Shahr-e-Naw square in downtown Herat city.
They emphasised that every day a number of Afghans, including women and children, lose limbs or face other horrible injuries due to suicide bombings and other violence conducted by the Taliban.
"Those who perpetrate these suicide attacks and bombings have violated the teachings of their religion," Omaid Haqjo, head of the Empowered People with Disabilities organisation, said in an interview at the rally.
"We ask the Taliban to not further handicap our countrymen and add to our number," he added, referring to his own organisation. "All disabled persons call for peace and a stop to the war and killing."
Nader Shah Haidari, director of the Herat Paralympics Federation, also called on the militants to end their atrocities.
"We no longer want our elderly, brothers and children to become disabled," he said. "We are handicapped, and we feel the pain of how much the war has ruined lives."
"Afghans are fed up with the war and want peace," he added. "These attacks have caused pain and ruined our people. We definitely don't want more Afghans to become disabled."
The Taliban are hurting only innocent Afghans with their violent acts, agreed Sadiq Islamyar, a disabled person who attended the gathering.
"I can feel the pain of being disabled -- how many more of us are going to become disabled?" Islamyar said. "This war has handicapped the entire nation, and we understand how much pain a disabled person suffers."
"The Taliban should look at the situation of the disabled like us," he added. "What have we done wrong that we were disabled and injured in the war? I condemn any attack by the Taliban and ask them to stop killing and handicapping more Afghans."
Citizens decry Taliban's 'war crimes'
Meanwhile, recent violence by the Taliban against innocent Afghans continues to draw the ire of civil society activists and advocacy groups in Herat Province.
A number of them gathered at a news conference on July 4 at the office of the Herat Civil Society Institutions Network in Herat city, where they condemned the Taliban's terrorist acts.
"The Taliban disregard the lives of civilians in the war as they continue to kill them in large numbers," said Parwin Poran, a member of the advocacy group for civilian protection in Herat city. "The obvious example is the recent suicide attack and bombing in Kabul that left more than 100 people killed and injured."
He called for the leaders of the Taliban to be tried in national and international courts.
"We, members of the advocacy group for civilian protection in Herat, want the Taliban to compensate the victims of their terrorist acts, and the leaders of the Taliban should be held accountable in association with the killing of innocent civilians," he said.
"The Taliban don't pay any attention to human life, and they don't care that they are killing women and children," said Jawad Ameed, co-ordinator of the civil society institutions in Herat Province. "The Taliban commit atrocities against residents of the areas under their control, and this has made us very concerned."
Officials with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in Herat Province accused the Taliban of breaching the accepted laws of war and called their actions a war crime.
"Civilians who are not taking part in the war continue to suffer casualties," said Abdul Qader Rahimi, regional director of the AIHRC in Herat.
The Taliban violate international conventions and laws of war as they continue to kill the innocent and their actions are crimes against humanity, said Rahimi.
"International laws of war hold parties to a conflict accountable to protect lives and property," he added. "If one of the parties violates [these laws], it should be prosecuted for its crimes."
The Taliban should be held accountable for all the crimes they commit daily, said Rahimi.
Taliban's clear enmity with Islam
Religious scholars in Herat Province also are condemning the Taliban's attacks and the subsequent civilian casualties. In addition, they insist that the religion of Islam rejects such terrorist acts.
"I don't know what fatwa justifies their causing so much pain to so many Muslims in one day," said Sayed Muhammad Shirzadi, director of the Herat provincial department for religious affairs and the Hajj. "Allah does not like these acts, and they anger him."
"In reality, this is a war against the religion [Islam] and Allah, because such stupid and ignorant attacks taint the image of the religion [Islam] around the world," he said.
"The religion of Islam condemns the killing of civilians, and murdering innocents is one of the biggest sins that is never forgiven -- God curses the perpetrators of these acts," he added.
"Those who commit suicide attacks and detonate bombs should just once look at the bloodstained pictures of innocent children. Why are they killed? No one should kill Muslims, but those who do ignore the religion of God and kill their countrymen with orders from foreigners."