Taliban Denies Accusations of “Ethnic Cleansing”

Taliban leaders recently spoke out against Human Rights Watch, a United States-based human rights organization that issued a report accusing the fundamentalist Islamic militia of violent “ethnic cleansing” during their takeover of the Northern Afghanistan city, Mazar-i Sharif, in August. The report, based on interviews with eyewitnesses who fled the massacre, describes an indiscriminate “killing frenzy” as the Taliban came into the city and singled-out the Hazaras, a Shi’ite minority in Afghanistan, for torture and execution.

A broadcast issued by Radio Kabul claimed that the report has no basis in fact and was designed to damage the image of the Taliban. The Taliban has extended an invitation to the United Nations to take a closer look into the killings to determine the truth. Human Rights Watch has also encouraged the UN to investigate the massacre.

The Taliban blame opposition forces for the Mazar-i Sharif killings and claim that the resulting deaths were just casualties of war. The Radio Kabul broadcast stated, “They [human rights groups] have been holding Taliban responsible for the killing of those who in fact were killed in fighting.”

The actual number of those killed during the Mazar-i Sharif massacre has yet to be determined.


NNI - November 13, 1998

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