Wednesday June 20, 2018

IS restarts Radio Broadcasts in Afghanistan

The IS-run FM station, “Voice of the Caliphate,” was programmed in 2015 and was destroyed by the Afghan Government airstrikes in accordance with US.

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An Islamic State Group member. Wikimedia Commons
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After being knocked off the air by government airstrikes, so-called Islamic State group (IS) has restarted radio broadcasts into a restive area of Afghanistan.

The radio channel, which broadcasts from a remote mobile transmitter in the mountains along the Pakistan border, has returned with new programming to its lineup.  It can now be heard in the Arabic and Punjabi languages besides its former programs in Pashto and Dari, the two official languages of Afghanistan.  The programs encourage people to join IS and air religious chanting.

The IS-run FM station, “Voice of the Caliphate,” started programming last year, terrorizing locals with threats and IS propaganda.

In February, Afghan authorities said airstrikes, conducted with the support of the United States, destroyed the IS transmitting site along with its Internet communications and other facilities.

The governor of Achin district in Nangarhar, Haji Ghaleb Mujahed, confirmed to VOA that IS broadcasts are airing daily for one hour in the morning and one-and-a-half-hours in the evening. The broadcasts can be heard in the Dehbala, Ghanikhail and Achin districts in the province.

Residents say they are alarmed.

“The radio programs are anti-government, anti-people and have a very bad impact,” said one listener, Ubaidullah, who, like many Afghans, uses a first name only.

It is not clear what the Afghan government will do next. The provincial director of information and culture told VOA that the Afghan communications and technology department is responsible for looking into the matter.

Emblem of ISIS. Wikimedia Commons
Emblem of ISIS. Wikimedia Commons

And despite reports from listeners, Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesperson for the Nangarhar governor, told VOA the government has no knowledge of the broadcasts.

“We are not aware that this (radio) is back,” he said. “The radio has been shut down and does not exist.”

“If the radio has started broadcasts, it will be taken off air soon,” he said.

Related Article: ISIS eyes on the land of Tagore and Nazrul (Bangladesh)

Analysts say IS is taking a new propaganda-based tactic to help it recruit more people.

“It is a logical step from Daesh right now to put more energy into those kinds of outreach efforts,” Rebecca Zimmerman, a Rand Corporation military policy analyst, told VOA, using an acronym for the jihadist group.

IS has established a footprint in some parts of Nangarhar province, where its fighters have launched multiple attacks on Afghan security checkpoints. The Afghan government has said it is making gains against IS in Nangarhar.

Government and NATO forces recently launched offensives against IS and some areas have been cleared of IS fighters. (VOA)

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Summary Trials Have No Place In Afghan Laws: Behrooz Jahanya

Human rights organizations also criticized the Afghan government

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Relatives of Afghan woman, 27-year-old Farkhunda, who was beaten to death by a mob, attend a hearing at a court in Kabul on May 6, 2015. Four Afghan men were sentenced to death for the savage lynching of a woman falsely accused of blasphemy, a landmark judgment in a nation where female victims often have little legal recourse.
Relatives of Afghan woman, 27-year-old Farkhunda, who was beaten to death by a mob, attend a hearing at a court in Kabul on May 6, 2015. Four Afghan men were sentenced to death for the savage lynching of a woman falsely accused of blasphemy, a landmark judgment in a nation where female victims often have little legal recourse. VOA

Human rights organizations have voiced “grave concerns” over the rise in summary court convictions in Afghanistan after a video of one such trial was posted on social media last week.

In the video, which was filmed outside the capital, Kabul, a group of four men and a woman were convicted of adultery by men who called themselves “mujahidin,” a title the Taliban always uses to identify its fighters.

The men in the video, who appeared to have been beaten up, confessed to having been involved in the act of adultery, an offense that carries severe punishments under both Afghan and Islamic Sharia law, if proved.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said summary court convictions are grave sources of concern, “especially when it happens in areas under the control of the Afghan government.”

Afghanistan March 2009
Afghanistan March 2009, Flickr

“Lashing, beheading, killing and stoning are among the verdicts of the summary court trials conducted in Afghanistan,” Bilal Sidiqi, Afghan AIHRC spokesperson, told VOA.

During the past three months, AIHRC has recorded at least three cases of summary court convictions, while the number of such incidents reached eight last year.

Hinder justice

United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the conduct of such trials and criticized what it called “traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms.”

Responding to a VOA query, UNAMA stated: “The handling of criminal cases outside Afghanistan’s court system can hinder justice and the realization of human rights. Afghanistan’s laws and penal code do not include any legal provision allowing for the mediation of criminal cases. Traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms should not be used in criminal cases to replace the existing legal framework or court adjudication processes of the government of Afghanistan.”

Human rights organizations also criticized the Afghan government for failing to prosecute the perpetrators.

Poster-Stop terorrism
Poster-Stop terorrism, Pixabay

“We call on the Afghan government to take serious measures to prevent such inhumane incidents,” Siddiqi said.

The Afghan government is striving to expand its control all over the country’s territories so everyone has access to the justice system, the Afghan presidential palace told VOA.

“The acts [summary trials] carried out by the Taliban and other terrorist groups against the people are criminal offenses,” Afghan presidential spokesperson Shah Hussain Murtazawi told VOA.

Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are being widely accused of conducting summary trials in the country.

Also read:Taliban Ghani peace offer

“We have recorded a number of summary convictions in restive areas and frequently the areas under Taliban control. Efforts were made to investigate and prosecute those who conduct summary trials,” Najib Danish, spokesperson for the Afghan interior minister, told VOA.

Against the law

Summary court convictions by the Taliban and other radical groups contradict the Afghan constitution and Islamic law, said Behrooz Jahanyar, a Kabul-based lawyer.

“What the Taliban is doing is absolutely against the Islamic law. Summary trials have no place in Afghan laws, either. No one can be convicted or punished without going through all court proceedings and access to appeal in a higher court,” Jahanyar told VOA.

Members of civil society organizations in Afghanistan allege that the issue of summary trials is more severe than it appears to be.

“Summary trials are conducted more in remote and hard-to-reach areas, where fear of retaliation prevents people from reporting such incidents,” Kabul-based civil activist Abdul Wodood Pedram, told VOA.

Although the authenticity of the videos posted on social media cannot be confirmed, disturbing footage is being posted periodically by militant groups in Afghanistan of women being stoned and beaten with batons, men being slashed, and Afghan soldiers captured by militants being shot to death. (VOA)