Assassination of FEFA head sparks widespread criticism

Afghan leaders including President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah along with the foreign community in Kabul have strongly condemned the assassination on Wednesday of Yousuf Rashid, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA).

Rashid and his driver were gunned down in PD7 in Kabul on Wednesday morning.

Photos and footage from the scene showed shattered glass and a blood splattered vehicle which was testimony to the barrage of bullets fired at the two men.

The Presidential Palace (ARG) stated in a series of tweets that Ghani has shared his condolences with the families and colleagues of the victims and that he condemned the attack.

The president “vehemently condemns today’s terrorist attack on Mr. Rashid Head of an Election Watch and terms it a cowardly and appalling attack on our freedom and democracy,” ARG tweeted.

Abdullah also issued a short statement on Twitter and said that killing is not a solution to the crisis.

“The cowardly attack & killing of Yosuf Rasheed, the Executive Director of Free & Fair Election Forum of AFG (FEFA)…Terror & killing is not the answer to the current crisis of the country,” tweeted Abdullah.

Mohammad Mirza Katawazai, First Deputy Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) in turn said on Twitter he was deeply saddened by the killing of Rashid “who was a forward looking, progressive young Afghan who wanted a truly functioning democracy in the country.”

Meanwhile, foreign embassies in Afghanistan also condemned the attacks and praised Rashid for his hard work and achievements in working to secure a free and transparent election system.

US Chargé d’Affaires, Ross Wilson, said: “I am appalled by his murder, another in a cacophony of senseless & endless violence.”

Wilson said Rashid’s death is a loss to his family, friends and the nation.

In his tweet, Wilson stated: “Yousuf Rasheed was a dedicated & steadfast advocate for representative democracy in Afghanistan. He worked tirelessly for years to ensure free & transparent elections that engaged all Afghans.”

The Netherlands Embassy in Kabul also condemned the attack and shared their condolences with his family and colleagues.

The embassy also expressed its concern over the recent and continued attacks on civil society activists in Afghanistan.

Sweden meanwhile said it was “appalled by the killing of Mr. Rasheed, head of Sweden’s long-term partner Free Election Afghanistan. Targeting of civil society activists is unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, Rashid’s brother, Abdulbaqi Rashid, said Wednesday the Afghan government needs to be held accountable and asked how much longer young Afghans need to be sacrificed.

He said that Rashid’s death is not only a loss for his family but for the whole country.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in turn called on the government to provide security to journalists, civil society members and human rights activists in the country.

According to the AIHRC the perpetrators should also be held accountable.

This comes amid a sharp increase in targeted killings in either shootings or magnetic IEDS across the country in recent weeks.

In light of this the UN on Wednesday warned that assassinations are “taking place at a deeply disturbing rate” across Afghanistan.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, UNAMA stated that it “mourns the loss of so many outstanding citizens, condemns those responsible and urges authorities to bring them to account.”

The mission emphasized that in the past four days “Afghanistan has seen the killing of an MP, a well known journalist, a group of medics and head of a leading election watchdog.”

“Such dreadful attacks are rarely claimed and frequently focus on those working for an open society,” UNAMA stated.

“The UN repeats its call for a sustained reduction in violence. Lives and gains must be protected, with spoilers prevented from undermining the vital peace negotiations, due to resume 5 January.”