Thousands of Afghans took to the streets in Kabul on Wednesday after seven people from the Hazara ethnic group were beheaded by ISIS. Of the seven Afghans who were taken hostage while traveling and then beheaded, there were two women, four men, and a nine year old girl. Demonstrators, which included men and women from all ethnic groups in Afghanistan, carried coffins of the victims and marched six miles from west of Kabul to the gates of the Afghan presidential palace. They demanded justice and urged the government to take action against the increasing violence and insecurity in Afghanistan.
Afghan women made up a large group of the protesters. They stood at the front line, raised their voices and carried the coffin of Shukira, the nine year old girl who was beheaded. It is very unusual for Afghan women to carry a coffin of a deceased in public. The large participation of Afghan women in this protest shows the increasing determination of Afghan women to demonstrate and to participate in political events.
Protests continued yesterday in 10 cities across Afghanistan in many other provinces as well. People took to the streets in Herat, Nangarhar, Balkh, Ghor, Daykundi, Zabul, Bamian, Jawzjan and Ghazni against the Taliban and ISIS.
According to the Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, ISIS kept them for a month. He had announced a national day of mourning on Wednesday. In a meeting with representatives of the protestors and family members of the victims, Ghani said that “the government took every possible measure to release the hostages, but unfortunately, the terrorists had them on the move.”
Ghani said that he shared the pain of the victims’ families and called on Afghans to maintain national unity. “Our enemies, by creating incidents that have ethnic and regional color, are trying to take our unity from us. We must not let any force divide us.” He said that he had been personally monitoring progress on operations to free the hostages before they were killed by the Islamic State fighters, but the hostages had been moved 56 times to evade military operations.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan condemned the killings. Killing and kidnapping civilians are “serious violations of international humanitarian law,” said UNAMA chief Nicholas Haysom. He also called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
Media Resources: LA Times 11/11/15; New York Times 11/12/15; Tolo News 11/11/15;