Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Afghanistan: Distorting facts and figures to serve political and strategic purposes

Source: Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM)

Kabul, 16 March 2011: As war-related civilian casualties in Afghanistan hike to unprecedented levels since 2002, so are the communication shows by some Afghan and international entities in distorting facts and figures to serve their political and strategic purposes. Whilst Afghan civilians suffer the increasing brunt of casualties resulting from the intensifying armed violence, President Hamid Karzai, U.S.-NATO, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs) are fiercely engaged in political blame games and in imparting misinformation.

From 1 January to 10 March 2011, at least 390 civilians were killed in conflict-related security incidents in the country which demonstrate a 7 percent increased compared to the same period last years, according to preliminary figures compiled by ARM.

"For many Afghans, it's not very important which warring party has to be blamed for what percentage of the civilian casualties, but they want an end to the attacks - by pro-government and anti-government elements - which bring catastrophic consequences to them," said Ajmal Samadi, director of Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM).

President Karzai has issued contradicting statements and has adopted mercurial positions in regards to the deaths and injuries of civilian people in military operations and security incidents over the past two years. Apart from chanting a recurrent emotional rhetoric, however, Karzai's administration has failed to take meaningful measures in order to address causes of the preventable civilian casualties, create and enforce appropriate recourse mechanisms, provide justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable.

"President Karzai even does not know how many Afghan police and army soldiers have lost their lives protecting his government," said Samadi.

A report on conflict-related civilian deaths in 2010, which was jointly released by UNAMA and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on 9 March, has presented disputable figures and has been reported in the international media as being appreciative of one particular side of the conflict for allegedly killing less civilian Afghans.

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