I.P.O. Information Service

Afghanistan -- Condemnation of massacre in Mazar i-Sharif

 Vienna, 30 November 2001/P/RE/17379c-is

In a statement issued today, the President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler, strongly condemned the massacre of hundreds of Taliban prisoners of war at the Qala-i-Jangi fort in Mazar i-Sharif, Afghanistan.

The President of the I.P.O. called for an international commission of inquiry under United Nations auspices to investigate the exact circumstances surrounding the massacre and the role played by Northern Alliance as well as British and US forces (who dispatched soldiers to co-ordinate the quashing of the "rebellion" of the POWs with the Northern Alliance).

Dr. Koechler explained that the the basic norms of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949 have been violated by the mass killing of prisoners of war. According to international media reports, at least 450 prisoners were left dead at the Qala-i-Jangi fort after heavy US bombardments and a Northern Alliance attack on the POWs who were confined in the fort.

The President of the I.P.O. supported the demand of Amnesty International spokesman Kamel Samari according to whom "an urgent inquiry should look into what triggered this violent incident, including any shortcomings in the holding and processing of prisoners, and into the proportionality of the response by the United Front, US and UK forces."

Dr. Koechler stated that the reports on the massacre of POWs in the Qala-i-Jangi fort have to be assessed in light of previous international media reports on atrocities committed by Northern Alliance forces upon the seizure of Mazar i-Sharif. He explained that those incidents, including the latest massacre, should be treated according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The President of the I.P.O. called for the early ratification of the Statute by United Nations member states.

The military commanders and politicians responsible for war crimes in Afghanistan have to be brought to justice before an impartial international court; the condemnation of all acts of terrorism makes it imperative to avoid the application of double standards and to deal with all violations of humanitarian law according to the same legal principles, Dr. Koechler said.

 END/Afghanistan -- Condemnation of massacre in Mazar i-Sharif /30-11-01/P/RE/17379c-is