Herat money exchangers on strike, calling for safety
On Saturday, May 30, Herat union of money exchangers went on strike to protest against series of kidnap for ransom of the money exchangers in the city. Exchange markets are closed and the exchangers are calling on the government to take a serious action against the abductors. According to Herat money exchangers, the abductors, usually disguised in police uniforms, kidnap money exchangers. Most recently, a gang of seven armed men, disguised in security forces uniforms, kidnapped a money exchanger from PD 12 of Herat city.
In the last couple of months, three money exchangers have been kidnapped and no one knows about their whereabouts. Abdullah Abed, an eyewitness who saw abduction of his colleague, Reza Mozaffari, told Kabul Now that gunmen, in security uniforms, took Reza with them at gunpoint from PD12 area. “[Armed] men, in uniforms, got down from two cars, saying that they were monitoring the market and took Reza with them. We thought they are the personnel of national security.”
Over last year, nine cases of kidnap for ransom of the money exchangers were registered, says Bahauddin Rahimi, the head of money exchangers’ union in Herat. He added that up to USD one million was paid to kidnappers as ransom and that hundreds of thousands of US dollars were stolen from Herat money exchangers.
He accused security forces of failure to provide security for money exchangers. He expressed his concern over increase in human trafficking crimes. “Why the security officials do not have enough control over their stuffs including their uniforms and vehicles which are used by abductors for committing crimes,” Rahimi asked.
Although security officials reached out the union on Saturday, May 30, and assured them of security, little is expected as far as security of money exchangers is concerned. Previously local security authorities made several promises to deal tough with abducting gangs in the city but little was done to assure safety of Herat money exchange market.
Herat union of money exchangers say that local security authorities made repeated promise to take serious actions against criminal gangs but to no avail.
Obaidullah Noorzai, Herat Police Chief, said that they have registered two abduction cases this year in Herat, claiming that the level of kidnappings has decreased in the western province. He says the efforts are underway to dismantle kidnapping bands in the city. According to the police official, some police officers have been fired for falling short to control use of police uniforms by criminal gangs.
Herat is known as the economic hub of Afghanistan. Money circulation is high in Herat. Herat exchange market is one of the busiest in the country. A growing insecurity and kidnap for ransom over last two decades have led to disappointment of money exchangers union and capital outflows. “Due to insecurity and increase in crime rate, particularly abduction and robbery, I am transferring my capital abroad and want to leave this country,” says Gholam Mohammad Soroubi, one of money exchangers in Herat market.