Presented on 14 September 2020, as a result of the Conference of War Victims’ families and relatives on the start of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks
“The entire peace process must be victim-centered, just and aimed at healing the wounds of victims of war and avoiding future recurrence of violence and crime.”
Conference of War Victims’ families and relatives on the start of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks
Decades of devastating and brutal war have claimed countless victims among the oppressed people of Afghanistan, largely among the civilian population, with women and children often the primary targets; people have paid the irreparable human, material and spiritual price of war with their lives, properties, rights and interests.
Now that “negotiations and peace talks between Afghans” has started, we, the families and relatives of the victims of war and violence, call for our active participation in this process, so that our voices are heard and our concerns are taken into account in all its aspects and reflected in the final agreements. We call on all negotiating parties to recognize the active participation of victims in the negotiation process as one of the main pillars of sustainable peace, and do not allow the negotiation process lead to the re-victimization of war victims.
According to the Islamic and international humanitarian rights, civilians, women, children, public property, infrastructures, civil property, the sick and those who surrender in battle are considered absolutely safe, and any assault on them is considered a “war crime”. The comparative experience of the countries involved in the conflict shows that a thorough handling of and accountability for violations committed during war and conflict is one of the inviolable principles of permanent peace that ensures the irreversibility of wars and conflict. Without a reasonable and transparent mechanism to deal with conflict-related crimes and violations, we could face fragile peace in the most optimistic scenario, and in the worst case, civil conflicts would return with greater intensity. War crimes can be dealt with legally, judicially and in accordance with international human rights instruments and national laws. The perpetrators of these crimes should be held accountable and their sentence cannot be suspended and not can it be subject to statutes of limitation [the time after which a crime cannot be tried in court].
We believe that peace cannot be realistic and sustainable without respect for human rights, justice and equality and ending of culture of impunity and violence. The essential precondition for the implementation of human rights and justice in the peace process is to allow active and meaningful participation of war victims in the peace negotiation process and to establish a mechanism to address the rights and rational demands of the victims.
Victims of human rights violations, in addition to the enjoyment of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other national and international instruments must have effective, equal and non-discriminatory access to justice and to the competent judicial institutions that uphold their human rights. Damage to victims should be compensated in a rational, equitable and timely manner, opportunities should be provided for rehabilitation and, eventually, it should be ensured that their rights are not violated again.
Peace is not just an absence of war and temporary ceasefire, but a situation in which all citizens enjoy their human rights without discrimination, have access to justice and live a dignified, peaceful and non-violent life.
Our basic requests, as families and relatives of war victims from the ongoing peace process, are as follows:
- Our first demand from the parties to the intra-Afghan peace talks is “A permanent, countrywide ceasefire” to prevent the killing of more civilians.
- The Parties shall concentrate on the country’s best interests and Afghanistan’s suffering people and victims, and strive to make good use of this historic opportunity to achieve a just, victim-centered and sustainable peace in which the Afghan people’s human rights and civilian rights are guaranteed.
- Negotiations should provide victims with access to justice, truth, and compensation for material and spiritual harms, and should ensure that such disasters do not happen again. Addressing the past and the rights of victims should be an integral part of the peace process agenda.
- We call on the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to establish a joint special committee to follow up on the basic demands of the victims and their families as soon as possible, and this structure is to be a key part of the negotiation process mechanism.
- set up a Victim-Centered Peace Working Group to work in a focused and organized way with negotiating groups on both sides and hold talks with the Joint Special Committee for Victims’ Affairs and other relevant groups and committees.
- assist in the systematic handling of the victims’ basic demands and ensure a permanent and durable peace.
Families and relatives of Afghanistan war victims
September 14, 2020
This article was last updated on 15 Oct 2020