Victims National Convention Calls For Direct Participation in Intra-Afghan Talks

The Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization (AHRDO) say the Afghan Victims’ National Convention should be included as the third party in the intra-Afghan talks.

AHRDO in a statement on Thursday said victims’ representatives should be involved in the peace negotiations so that they can present and pursue their demands “seriously” and “directly”.

“We call for a victim-centred process, a process in which victims can see themselves, their voices are heard, their pains and demands are considered,” the statement reads.

AHRDO cited that the victims’ messages have already been shared with both sides by Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

“Our first message is ceasefire, cessation of violence order to stop further victimizing Afghan people,” it said.

Speaking at the event, the Special Envoy of the President and State Minister for Human Rights & International Affairs, Dr. Sima Samar said, “Throughout all historical periods from Geneva Conference to the Bonn Agreement, we all have seen that victims’ rights were never raised. No serious attention was ever paid to the victims and their problems never addressed.”

“Justice is a fundamental human right. It is timeless, not being conditioned by geography and emergency situations we are in now. Thus, access to justice, in addition to being a right, can create conditions for a law-bound life, a more progressive and modern society,” she said.

In the meantime, UNAMA’s human rights chief Georgette Gagnon said the United Nations is a strong advocate of an inclusive peace process for Afghanistan.

“Your voice needs to be heard and your concerns to be considered. Including victims in a peace process may have various aims. One is to highlight the importance & tragedy of wide-scale suffering from both sides. In showing their commitments to the victims, negotiating parties can change the public perception of the talks,” UN human rights chief said.

On the other hand, Afghan State Minister for Peace, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi noted that commitment to get to a sustainable, dignified & just peace, requires that both sides to the war must pay attention to all factors that can threaten the stability and continuity of the process.

“Creating conditions for participation for all groups of society in the peace process will not only contribute to stability, sustainability of peace and prevent future crisis but it is also the only way forward not to repeat past mistakes,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of AIHRC, Shaharzad Akbar stated that circumstances are not favorable to victims in Afghanistan.

“In such a difficult circumstance, under which, we ourselves (Human Rights Commission) has been direct victim of war, and in these years we have lost seven of our staff,” Akbar said.

She cited that the Afghan peace delegation has ensured the Human Rights Commission that they will included victims’ rights in their proposed agenda. “We are making the same request from d Taliban,” she added.

EU special envoy for Afghanistan, Roland Kobia also said, “The reduction of violence has been tried for almost a year but it has failed. So we need to follow what our political leaders expressed publicly in calling for an immediate ceasefire and stick to that terminology.”

“It is our collective responsibility to listen to d testimonies of all victims to amplify their voices and to make the very painful process of truth telling become 1 of the building blocks of a cohesive, inclusive and modern Afghan society,” Kobia said.

The Victims National Convention called on parties involved in Afghanistan’s conflict to stop continuation of war and violence and adhere to the cessation of war as the “first step to peace.”

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