Families of war victims holding protest in Kabul, demanding a representation in Afghan peace process

“Listen to voice of victims”, war victims say in Kabul

As the first round of peace talks began in Qatar on September 12, a large number of victims and survivors of war protested, raising their concerns on peace process in Kabul. They called for victim-centered and just peace process in protest held on Monday, September 14, on top of a hill where victims of a blast engraved in a mass graveyard.

The protestors had held placards which read: “I am a widow, who killed my husband?” “Who represents war victims in the peace process?”, and “Listen to voice of victims.”

Issuing a resolution, the protesters called on negotiating parties to listen to voices of war victims. The war victims, each of whom have lost family member, said that they would convene a national Jirga of victim families.

They called on the warring parties to agree to a long-term ceasefire and put an end to civilian’s casualty. The protesters urged the negotiating parties to work for permanent peace, and give rights and protection guarantees to Afghan people.

The Afghan war victims say that the peace talks which is underway should provide justice to war victim families, allowing them to have access to justice, truth, and compensation. The war victim families, who were united in their pain of loss, urged the Afghan government and Taliban side to take a representative of war victim families on board of peace talks and give them voice.

The negotiating parties should establish an outreach committee for war victims and create a communication channel to reach families and representatives of war victims.

The Afghan war victims have not been given a representation on peace table. Rights activists have repeatedly raised their voices, calling on the negotiating parties to include a representative of war victims in list of negotiators. Fawzia Kofi, a member of government negotiating team, says that government negotiating team is working with Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission on a mechanism to include war victims in the peace process.

Afghan war victims
Parents holding a memorial of their daughter’s death, who killed in suicide blast in Kabul

The nearly four decades of war in the country have claimed millions of innocent lives in Afghanistan. The Taliban have committed serious crimes, killing and wounding thousands of Afghan forces and civilians including children and women. According to UN records, over 100, 000 civilians have been killed and wounded in the past 11 years. Though the government has not released official figures on casualty rate of defense and security forces, earlier in 2019, President Ghani acknowledged that more than 45,000 security forces were killed since the start of his presidency in 2014.

The protesters say that bringing a durable peace to the country requires a transparent peace process in which all parties, including families of war victims, see themselves reflected.

The US government and the Taliban signed a peace deal on February 29, after 18 months of negotiations. Under the deal, the US has to withdraw all its troops in 14 months, the Taliban have to give counter-terrorism guarantee that will not let foreign terrorist groups to use Afghan soil as launchpat against US and its ally, and the Afghan government and the Taliban militants have sit around a peace table to negotiate a power sharing deal.