NDS releases activists, confirms AIHRC

Afghanistan national intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), will hand over two civilian activists to Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). The activists were arrested by the NDS last week after they exposed a “paedophile ring involved in the abuse of at least 546 boys from six schools” in Logar province to The Guardian.

Speaking to Kabul Now, Zabihullah Farhang, a spokesperson for AIHRC, said that the two activists, Musa Mahmoodi and Ehsanullah Hamidi, will be released from NDS custody as the result of AIHRC’s advocacy campaigns and handed over to the commission. The NDS confirmed yesterday, November 26 that the activists were under its custody for their lives were under serious threats after issuance of Guardian report.

Citing Naeem Nazari, deputy chairperson of the AIHRC, the Iran International reported today, November 27, that the AIHRC will release the two activists after they are freed from custody of the NDS.

Upon its release, the news of children sodomy took social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter, by storm and sparked huge criticisms among ordinary people and Afghan politicians over the sexual abuse of children in religious madrasas.

Under pressure of public, the Afghan ministry of education said it had launched an urgent investigation on the case. Then, the acting education minister, Mirwais Balkhi tweeted on November 17 that he had met governor of Logar, the MPs, chairperson of Logar Provincial Council, and other influential figures in the province to assess the accusations.

The revelation, on the other hand, was also followed by outrage in the same province. In Pul-e-Alam, capital city of Logar, people protested against the claims. Denying the allegations, the provincial governor, Mohammad Anwar Ishaqzai described the finding as ‘inaccurate.’

“Some countries and networks are trying to destroy this great and heroic nation,” MP Sayed Ahmad Khadem told Guardian.

Arrest and detention of activists was widely condemned

Arrest of detention of the two activists were widely condemned by national and international organizations. Both, the AIHRC and Amnesty International called for immediate release of the activists. “AIHRC considers detention of the activists by the NDS a clear violation of national law and human rights standards,” the commission said.

Amnesty International also shared some messages sent by Mussa Mahmoodi expressing fear that he might be killed. Mr. Mahmoodi asked for help. He said in a message that the NDS was trying to arrest him and would accuse and blame him for everything.

Expressing full support for AIHRC stance, US Ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass also pronounced their detention as ‘totally unacceptable.’ He added that it is appalling to coerce confessions from civil society activists whose goal is to protect Afghan children.

President Ghani said on his twitter late on Tuesday, November 26 that he was deeply disturbed by the report on sexual abuse in Logar province. “When I was briefed today about the development on the case I immediately instructed NDS to stop the proceedings,” part of his tweet reads, adding that cases of such must be dealt and investigated by the attorney general’s office and the AIHRC.

Reacting to Ghani’s tweet, Rahmatullah Nabil, a former NDS chief, said that without instruction by the Afghan presidential palace, NDS will not take such a decision by their own.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also supported call for investigation by the AGO and urged immediate release of the human right defenders from NDS detention center.