After decades of war, Afghanistan's violence victims speak out
Afghan women participate in a "victims' jirga" conference in Kabul on Sunday. 


Published: May 9, 2010 22:42 Updated: May 9, 2010 22:42 

KABUL: Mothers of slain teenage sons, men wounded by mine blasts and tearful 
widows were among Afghans who spoke out Sunday at a conference billed as the 
first major gathering of victims of decades of war in their country.

The so-called "victims' jirga" at a Kabul hotel brought together dozens of 
Afghans from across the country to build pressure on the government ahead of a 
national peace assembly called by President Hamid Karzai for later this month.

Legal advocates who organized the gathering in the capital want to make sure 
the voices of the Afghan people who have suffered at the hands of insurgents, 
warlords and under the former Taleban and Soviet regimes are heard at the 
government's peace assembly.

Some 1,500 people from across Afghan society have been invited to the assembly 
to seek a consensus for reconciling with insurgents willing to lay down their 
arms. Some victims don't want those who perpetrated violence over the years to 
be allowed to regain a measure of power, and for them to pay the consequences 
for their actions in order to resolve the more than eight-year-old war.

"We cannot lose hope for a peaceful life," said Sima Hussiani, a woman from 
Badakhshan province in northern Afghanistan. The former Taleban regime killed 
her two brothers, both teachers, in the late 1990s, she said. "I don't want 
blood for blood, but the perpetrators should acknowledge their mistakes."

Despite talk of peace and hopes for justice, the violence continues across the 
country as an insurgency led by Taleban militants works to destabilize the 
Karzai government and its international supporters.

NATO reported a service member died Sunday following an insurgent attack in 
southern Afghanistan. No other details were disclosed.

On Saturday, four members of a community defense force protecting villagers in 
western Afghanistan were beheaded by militants in fighting, an Afghan army 
official said Sunday.

Also on Saturday in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, a joint Afghan 
and international force uncovered a roadside bomb factory in Now Zad district. 
NATO said Sunday two suspected insurgents were detained and dozens of 
rocket-propelled grenades and bomb parts were confiscated.

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