Sarwar Danish says enemy playing a psychological war game

Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh said on Thursday Afghanistan’s enemy was playing a psychological war game by trying to create fear, panic, despair and division as it stepped up high-profile targeted assassinations around the country.

Speaking at the First Human Rights Defenders National Conference in Kabul he also said Afghanistan’s political system and Constitution were not in contradication of the principles, values, beliefs and rules of Islam.

Referring to recent assassinations and attempted assassinations, Danesh said under the current circumstances “we need to tighten our ranks in every way and not give in to the enemy’s psychological warfare.”

Danish said the aim of recent attacks was to destabilize the entire system, the values of the past 20 years, to create fear, panic, despair, division, distance between government and the people, to gain points at the negotiating table or to stop the peace process.

Speaking at the same conference, Aziz Rafiee, head of Afghan Civil Society Forum and chairman of the Human Rights Defenders Committee, said that human rights defenders face many threats and that the committee has so far this year registered 54 cases in this regard.

He said the Joint Commission for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, chaired by Professor Sarwar Danesh, is expected to improve the working and living conditions of human rights defenders, adding that the committee reaffirms its commitment and co-operation to the commission.

Shahzad Akbar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) also addressed the conference and raised the issue of threats made against human rights defenders.

Akbar said that a mechanism should be set up to protect and secure human rights defenders, and that the role of government and international institutions was crucial in this regard.

Sima Samar, former minister of the State Ministry for Human Rights Affairs, told the conference that ensuring the security and safety of human rights defenders is the responsibility of government, but that in this instance everyone’s cooperation is necessary.

A UNAMA Representative also addressed the conference and stated that recent insurgent attacks show how much human rights defenders in the country have to deal with and how much they are threatened.
He said the United Nations supports human rights defenders in Afghanistan and welcomes the establishment of a Joint Commission for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, chaired by the Second Vice President, and will work closely with the Commission.

The EU representative also said that the European Union is committed to supporting human rights defenders and to the establishment of the joint commission on human rights defenders

He called for a thorough investigation into the recent security incidents, and said that the investigations are expected to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Deputy Minister of Justice Zakia Adeli also addressed conference delegates and said the ministry is working on regulations to protect human rights defenders and that once this has been finalized it is hoped this will pave the way for better protection of human rights defenders.

The first National Conference of Human Rights Defenders was organized by the Human Rights Defenders Committee in cooperation with human rights defenders from across the country as well as with the help of national and international human rights organizations.