Click image to enlarge. Copyright: Malik Sajad, used by permission
Yesterday, Amnesty International wrote an open letter to all members of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State Assembly calling on them to take action to protect human rights and to investigate past human rights violations.
Among the actions we are calling for legislators to accomplish in this session:
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) demonstrated in a more than impressive way this week how science and technology can advance the cause of human rights. Using forensic analysis and satellite imagery, they did an excellent job in documenting a war crime—and the subsequent US supported cover-up—in Afghanistan, where in the wake of the US led invasion in 2001 hundreds of prisoners of war were killed by a US backed warlord and dumped in a mass grave in Dasht-e-Leili. Check out this must see video:
In 2002, PHR investigators discovered the presence of a mass grave site in Dasht-e-Leili, outside of the city of Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan. The grave site is reported to contain anywhere from hundreds to thousands of Taliban prisoners of war. Forensic analysis suggests that most of the prisoners died from suffocation. They reportedly died while inside closed metal shipping containers.
Upon returning to the site in 2008, Stefan Schmitt, Director of PHR’s International Forensic Program, noticed that the mass grave might have been tampered with. To gather additional evidence, PHR requested satellite imagery from the area, which showed two sizeable pits, compromising the original area. The satellite imagery obtained by the AAAS indicated that there was earth-moving equipment present on August 5, 2006 along with one of two new pits. Later imagery on October 24, 2007, revealed the second pit in the same location as the earth-moving equipment from August 5.
The Bush Administration discouraged any attempts to investigate the episode, as the warlord suspected of committing the crimes, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, was on the C.I.A.’s payroll, while his militia worked alongside the United States Special Forces in 2001. The Department of State has urged the Obama administration to oppose Gen. Dostum’s reappointment in the Afghani government; however the president has yet to take action on this issue.