Afghanistan: Massacre of Civilians in Mirza Olang is a War Crime

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Press Release
Transitional Justice Coordination Group (TJCG) [1]

9 August 2017, Kabul, Afghanistan - The massacre of civilians in the village of Mirza Olang, Sar-e Pul province of Afghanistan by terrorist groups is unprecedented in the recent years of armed conflicts in Afghanistan. Local organizations and governmental officials including the Governor confirm the massacre, which is a war crime and may amount to a crime against humanity.

Eyewitnesses have reported the systematic killing of approximately 52 civilians, including women and children, individually and en masse, without any distinction. Hundreds of families have lost their houses and properties and are displaced. Displaced families are deprived of their fundamental facilities including access to clean water, food and shelter and they urgently require assistance from the Government, national and international humanitarian organizations.

The targeted mass killing of civilians, including women and children, without distinction and the destruction without military necessity and pillage of civilian property are crimes that go against human values. They are violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, specifically Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions 1949 and Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998.

The Transitional Justice Coordination Group condemns the commission of war crimes in the village of Mirza Olang, Sur-e Pul province in the strongest possible terms. TJCG believes that the reason behind the commission and repetition of such egregious crimes in the country is the lack of ability of the Government of Afghanistan to provide security for its citizens, especially for ethnic and religious minorities.

The lack of action and impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes by terrorist groups is the reason for tragedies such as the Mirza Olang massacre. The negligence of security departments, failure to prosecute the crimes committed by terrorist groups and the lack of serious steps for providing security for civilians, especially for ethnic and religious minorities, is of grave concern to the TJCG.

TJCG makes the following demands:

1. The Government must take immediate measures for protecting the lives, property, and human dignity of civilians, especially ethnic and religious minorities. Officials who are negligent in their duties should be suspended, prosecuted and punished.

2. The Government must take immediate and appropriate actions for protecting and rescuing civilian hostages held by terrorist groups in Mirza Olang village.

3. The Government, with the coordination of relief agencies, must provide immediate humanitarian assistance including; food, clothes, tents, medicine and other urgent needs of the displaced families.

4. The Government must prioritize the protection of vulnerable groups, especially women and children. Possible gender-based crimes committed must be addressed separately.

5. The Government must identify and prosecute the perpetrators of these war crimes, including the targeted killing of civilians

6. Considering the scale and reoccurrence of war crimes committed in Afghanistan and the lack of capacity within the current judicial system to address them, the Government must establish a Special Tribunal for War Crimes In addition, the Government must take practical steps for intervention by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

7. The ICC should open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, including war crimes in the Mirza Olang village of Sur-e Pul province.

8. The ICC indicated in its 2016 preliminary examination report that the opening an investigation was imminent in Afghanistan. Therefore the Court must put into practice what they have promised and implement justice for victims of egregious crimes - war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.

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