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