Afghan civilians harmed by U.S. bombs, aid

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released three reports detailing the harm of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. “Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their Use by the United States in Afghanistan,” exposes civilian casualties caused by cluster bombs. Cluster bombs release millions of bomblets covering large areas of land. The U.S. is preparing to use this technology against Iraq.

HRW spoke out against cluster bombs in the 1991 Gulf War and 1999 air campaign against Yugoslavia. “During its air war in Afghanistan, the United States dropped ... cluster bomblets that killed or injured scores of civilians, especially children, both during and after strikes,” according to the report.

A second report, “We Want to Live as Humans: Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan,” details human rights abuses. A report released in November, “All Our Hopes Are Crushed: Violence and Repression in Western Afghanistan,” dealt with the continuing political oppression in western province of Herat.

The reports explain that, with U.S. help, Ismail Khan, governor of Herat, has used abusive tactics. The U.S. has supported Khan since his days with the Mujadin. The report stipulates that Khan is still receiving major, “military and financial assistance from the United States.”

HRW said “The situation in Herat are (is) symptomatic (of) developments across the country. ... women and girls were facing new restrictions in other regions as well.” Across Afghanistan political abuse is widespread “include[ing] arbitrary and politically-motivated arrests intimidation, extortion and torture.

“The U.S.-led coalition forces are actively backing a warlord in western Afghanistan with a disastrous human rights record,” HRW said. HRW calls for major reforms, including expansion of UN and coalition peacekeepers, political reforms, new leadership and additional resources to the national government.

The reports can be found at www.hrw.org.

The author can be reached at bkishner@pww.org