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Death List Reveals Horrors of Afghanistan’s Past

KABUL (Reuters) - One name on a list of nearly 5,000 told Saleha the truth she did not want to know. Her father, a painter from the southern province of Kandahar, was executed by the Afghan communist government in 1979, aged 31.

He had been accused by a court of being an insurgent fighting against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in the months leading up to the ill-fated invasion.

Saleha, a girl when her father disappeared without trace, is now in her late 20s. Her plight is common in Afghanistan, where thousands of soldiers, guerrillas and civilians simply vanished during two decades of war, occupation and lawlessness.

Arranged in neat columns, numbered, hand-written in the local Dari language and stamped by the "Democratic Revolutionary Court of Afghanistan," the folder of 4,782 names smacks of the ruthless efficiency the Soviet Union and its satellites so cherished.

The document was drawn up by intelligence services in Kabul in the late 1970s and photocopies were recently obtained by the Afghan Commission for Human Rights (ACHR).

It lists the individual’s name, father’s name, province of residence, profession and date and reason for execution.

"It was the hardest moment of my life when I knew about my father," Saleha told Reuters.

"I was not upset only for my father but for all the other people who were murdered at that time, because they might also have had families and children."

ACHR head Lal Gul said the commission would publish the names in local newspapers and prepare a booklet so that as many relatives and friends as possible could determine the fate of those missing.

Some of the families of those who disappeared under Afghan communist rule in the buildup to the Soviet occupation from 1979 still hold out faint hopes of a happy ending, Gul said.

"A large number of people were killed during the communist regime and their relatives still think they might be alive or have been transferred to jails in the (former) Soviet Union," he said, after presenting the list to a small group of journalists.

"Unfortunately the list of these 5,000 people shows most of them were killed."

On a parched, stony hillside around 9 miles east of the capital, Gul points to the long, narrow ditches he says are mass graves containing the remains of at least some of the victims listed by the communist courts.

Close to the notorious Pul-i-Charki prison, the isolated site served as a dumping ground for people who died at the jail or who were executed on the spot, he said.

"Thousands of innocent people are buried here. The only reason was that they were against the policies of that regime and did not accept their opinions.

"They picked this place because it is so close to the jail and there aren’t any villages around, so it is a very isolated area for execution."

Long sticks adorned with torn material marked the burial site, and a small pile of human bones could be seen under a piece of corrugated iron.

"Graves of the mujahideen (’holy warriors’) and scholars. May they rest in peace" read a fading, rusty sign at the bottom of the hill.

Gul said it was one of many mass graves yet to be properly unearthed and investigated in Afghanistan, testament to the brutal reality of life in the war-torn state.

Most recently a scandal erupted last year over a burial site filled with bodies of Taliban fighters allegedly killed or allowed to suffocate while in the custody of pro-U.S. forces after the hard-line Islamic militia capitulated late in 2001.
I’m sure that the Northern Alliance were no angels.

Many wondered where a full investigation into the allegations might lead, given the level of violence and atrocities carried out among different ethnic groups and rival factions throughout the country’s bloody past.

Brief entries in the list offer glimpses into the lives and deaths of the "enemies of the state."

One typical example reads: "Name: Mohammad Nasim; Father’s name: Mohammad Sharif; Age: 53; Profession: retired teacher; Province: Ghazni; Killed in 1978; Accused of carrying out anti-government activities.

A small number of women were also executed:

The records say nothing of the upheaval faced by surviving relatives.

In 1980, aged just 6, Saleha was sent to the Soviet Union where she spent the next 10 years studying, returning in the dying days of the occupation. She is now married with two children and works as an assistant physiotherapist in Kabul.

The death toll in Afghanistan may never be know as I doubt that the Taliban bothered with making lists.

The BBC, on the other hand, is standing by with some moral relativism from teh past.US shuns Vietnam war claims
Posted by:Super Hose