Prisoners to protest execution order

Published October 11, 2007

KABUL: Dozens of inmates at Afghanistan’s main prison in Kabul have been on a hunger strike for three days to protest the executions at the weekend of 15 convicts, the head of prisons said on Wednesday.

The inmates at the Pul-i-Charki prison started their protest soon after the 15 men were taken from the jail late on Sunday and put before a firing squad for crimes including murder, kidnapping and attacks on government security forces.

They were the second known executions carried out in the past six years by the post-Taliban government.

“It is the third day of their hunger strike today,” Afghanistan’s head of prisons, Abdul Salam Asmat, told AFP. “They are apparently protesting the execution of the 15 criminals.” Most of the striking prisoners are linked with the extremist Taliban and Al Qaeda groups that are behind an insurgency launched six years ago, he said.

The Pajhwok Afghan News agency cited the head of the prison, Shah Amir Khan, as saying most of the striking prisoners had criticised the process by which the executions were carried out as lacking transparency.

The United Nations and Afghanistan’s main human rights body have expressed concern about the judicial processes that led to the weekend executions.

“I am deeply troubled by this sudden resort to execution, after three years of refraining from carrying out the death penalty,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said in a statement on Tuesday.

About 300 people are on death row awaiting President Hamid Karzai’s execution order, having been sentenced since 2001, when the hardline Taliban movement was driven from government.—AFP

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