Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kurds in Syria suffer unseen ethnic cleansing

While numerous conflicts plague the Middle East, inside Syria, the regime of Bashar Assad had used this opportunity to quietly re-launch the campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Kurdish region of Hasakah, according to The Bulletin.

With the Syrian press controlled by the regime and access of foreign press limited, the abuses of the Kurds have gone practically unreported – news arrives only through letters and faxes from persecuted Kurds.

Historically persecuted, Syrian Kurds, who are not officially recognized and are instead seen as “second class Arabs,” are at the mercy of the extraordinarily powerful Syrian security agencies, which can confiscate, detain, torture and kill with impunity.

The discovery of oil in the Kurdish region of Hasakah serves as further motivation for the Syrian regime to engage in ethnic cleansing of Kurdish areas; according to intelligence estimates, Syrian oil reserves will be depleted in the near future.

Asked to sum up the current situation in Syria, Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, said, “In my view, the Basher Assad regime is trying to complete the ethnic cleansing process by isolating Syrian Kurds from Iraqi Kurds… to prevent future support from Kurds in Iraq… Kurds, who comprise 20 percent of the Syrian population, are tired of being victimized and are demanding their legitimate civil and human rights.”

For the full article, click here.

Land seizure protests suppressed by police

According to the Vietnam Human Rights Network, land rights protestors were violently suppressed by the police in Sai Gon.

Citizens have continued to protest outside the legislative house since June 22 over government land seizures. Those forcibly removed from their land have been greeted with tear gas and sprayed water as they plead for a just policy or compensation for their land.

Rather than engaging the concerns of the people the government has chosen to crackdown on the protestors, many of whom are extremely poor. In a statement, the People’s Democratic Party has requested that the Vietnamese government resolve the concerns of the protestors.

For the full article, click here.


Bloodbath or breakthrough in Iraq

In the midst of a national argument about a troop “surge” or pullout in Iraq, Natan Sharansky offers his point of view – that a “precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces could lead to a bloodbath that would make the current carnage pale by comparison,” according to Haaretz.com

Sharansky also argues that those who believe Iraq may have been better off under Saddam Hussein forget that “in totalitarian regimes, there are no human rights.” According to a poll conducted this spring in Iraq, nearly two to one (49 percent to 26 percent) surveyed said they preferred life under their new government to life under the old tyranny.

“Of course, Saddam Hussein’s removal has created a host of difficult strategic challenges, as well as numerous human rights atrocities. But Saddam was a mass murderer who tortured children in front of their parents, gassed Kurds, slaughtered Shi’ites… The price for stability that Hussein supposedly brought to the region was mass graves, hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq, and terrorism and war outside it. Difficult as the challenges are today—with Iran and Syria trying to stymie democracy in Iraq, with Al-Queda turning Iraq into the central battleground in its holy war of terrorism against the free world, and with sectarian militias bent on murder and mayhem—there is still hope that tomorrow may be better,” Sharansky writes.

And no one can know whether President Bush’s “surge” of U.S. troops will succeed, but “those who believe human rights should play a central role in international affairs should be doing everything in their power to maximize its chances.”

For the full article, click here.

Prime Minister Barzani: Honor killing is murder

Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister for the Kurdistan Regional Government, has spoken out to religious leaders against the act of honor killing, according to a press release issued by the KRG on Tuesday

Barzani asked that senior clerics “spread a message of peace and tolerance in mosques and society.” He also heavily emphasized the message that “killing under the pretext of protecting honor is murder.”

“We will find those who commit these terrible crimes and we will prosecute them to the full extent of the law”, Barzani proclaimed.

He added: “We have made a commitment to women’s rights, and we are determined to see it through.”

Barzani is engaging civic and religious leaders to help build social support to end the practice. The dialogue with the religious leaders is part of a larger strategy to increase awareness of cultural and social problems.

For the full article, click here.


Shifting corporate social responsibility

Issues surrounding corporate social responsibility are shifting, according to Stratfor. Whereas the current focus is on global companies operating according to international standards on labor, the environment and human rights, the emerging shift is towards a narrower set of issues dealing with personal choices in the marketplace.

This movement advocates better corporate responses to consumer demands – demands that might not exist yet – for energy-saving light bulbs, cars that get better gas mileage, products whose materials do not pose a health risk to users and so on. Although it expects corporations to lead the way, it will also demand that people see the impacts of their purchases on their health, their safety and the environment.

Sustainable consumption activist Paul Hawken has written a book about the emerging values-based movement and appears to be leading the way in advocating this new set of corporate standards. Hawken envisions a new industrial revolution that will be marked be a new relationship among businesses, society and the environment; business will declare their own corporate values through their products.

For the full article, click here.

Buddhist dissident supports land seizure protests

Thich Quang Do has publicly addressed protests concerning land seizures and corruption in Viet Nam, Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday. The deputy leader of the Unified Buddhist Church of Viet Nam (UBCV), had not addressed a public demonstration in 26 years.

Do has been held under “pagoda arrest” since the Vietnamese government declared the UBCV illegal in 1981. The UBCV was banned after refusing to give in to governmental supervision. The appearance by Do is unprecedented and illustrates the high importance of the land issue among Vietnamese

“Thich Quang Do cannot leave his pagoda except to visit the doctor once a month,” Vo Vai Ai, UBCV spokesperson said.

Lu Thi Thu Duyen, a protester, spoke of the thousands of people that listened to the monk address the demonstrators.

Do is a 2007 Nobel peace prize nominee.

For the full article, click here.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scholars call for regional diplomacy, military drawdown in Iraq

The U.S. should begin a drawdown of troops in Iraq and focus its sights on regional diplomacy, a set of three scholars asserted today in Washington – although each differed over the manner and rate with which such a plan should be executed.

“The situation in Iraq is dreadful and it’s going to get much worse,” Joost Hiltermann, a Middle East specialist at the International Crisis Group, told the audience at a public event at the United States Institute of Peace. “It can get a lot worse and believe me this will happen – the surge is going to fail…There is no way that this plan can succeed.”

Hiltermann also questioned the idea that Iraq’ government would ever meet the so-called benchmarks that the surge was ostensibly designed to facilitate. “The Iraqi government is so dysfunctional that it could not bring about these deals it wanted to, and so sectarian that it doesn’t want to.” He deemed the oil-revenue-sharing law the only benchmark with a reasonable chance of success, arguing that the now-Shia controlled state would not allow the reinstitution – however modest – of Sunni authority implicit in the other measures.

Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, echoed Hiltermann’s sentiments on the failings of the U.S. plan, saying America’s military strategy “never had a chance to succeed” from the outset. But he differed from the both Hiltermann, and the other speaker, conflict prevention and human rights expert John Packer, in calling for a firm pull-out date. “If you don’t get out of the quagmire in Iraq, you’re not going to prevail in the global war on terror,” Korb said, arguing that a major withdrawal must be completed in a year’s time.

Korb was also skeptical as to the potential for national reconciliation, saying that the U.S. must stop the “unconditional training of Iraq security forces” because they will “turn on each other or U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia” once America leaves.

Packer was more tepid on the troop withdrawal issue, citing the potential impact that a rapid, large-scale pull-out could have on the West’s grip on regional energy resources. Rising oil prices would undermine the modest economic recovery achieved in parts of Europe, he said, citing one possible outcome.

While there was dissension over the terms of a military withdrawal, all three scholars struck the same basic chord on the importance of multilateral engagement with Iraq’s neighbors. Hiltermann was particular adamant, arguing that ignoring regional diplomacy would leave a “vacuum without an effective means of containment” that would result in a serious global threat. He added that Iran should be engaged as well, saying that the hard-line state would be motivated by the need to manage the turmoil raging beside its border. Packer, for his part, said that U.S. leadership on the Arab-Israeli conflict could do much to facilitate regional cooperation.

A so-called ‘soft-partition’ of Iraq into Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish regions was brought up in audience questioning, but roundly dismissed by all three scholars, who cited the lack of clear ethnic and sectarian demarcations within the country – Packer dismissed what he termed the “myth of purity.”

“It is not realistic...you would have to draw boundaries through living rooms and bedrooms,” Hiltermann said, referring to the significant number of inter-sectarian and inter-ethnic marriages in Iraq.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Conditions for children in Iraq have worsened, U.N. official says

Increased violence and the deterioration of a government-sponsored food delivery program have resulted in a dire scenario for children in Iraq, as new data shows that health access and nutritional indicators are worsening, The Associated Press reported yesterday.

Since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006, the rise in sectarian violence has had a devastating effect on women and children. Dan Toole, director of emergency programs for the United Nations Children’s Fund, said that since the bombing, women have been afraid to send their children out for school or health check-ups.

Iraq’s state-run food handout program, implemented in 1991 to cope with international sanctions, has deteriorated over the past year.

For the full article, click here


Progress being made in southern Sudan

After decades of civil war, millions displaced and infrastructure toppled, southern Sudan is starting to rebuild. At the top of the priority list is establishing a new rule of law and effective courts, police and prisons, according the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

UNDP has been working with the government of southern Sudan and its people since January 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

“Two years ago there was no government of southern Sudan,” said Patrick Sweeting, Head of UNDP’s office in southern Sudan. “Now we are seeing justice institutions being established and staffed at all levels, and UNDP’s team in southern Sudan is supporting this process with training, technical advice and support, and infrastructure development.”

“Getting the law right is the most important part of helping rebuild the State,” according to UNDP’s Rule of Law Team Leader Sue Tatten. “People need to know that they will be able to resolve their disputes in a way that’s impartial and equitable according to southern Sudanese standards.”

For the full article, click here .

U.S. Trade mission to Viet Nam slated for later this year

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on Tuesday announced that he will visit Viet Nam later this year, The Associated Press reported the same day. With the visit, Gutierrez hopes to increase the presence of U.S. imports in Viet Nam.

The envoy will consist of various industry representatives eager to gain access to the Vietnamese market, one of the fastest growing in Asia. Expanded market access will allow U.S. companies to export more to the region and create more industry opportunities in Viet Nam.

Vietnam is an exciting new market that is providing opportunities for American businesses, manufacturers and service providers,” Gutierrez said.

He added, “This [Vietnamese] administration has demonstrated that it will use every tool at its disposal to enforce our trade laws, from applying anti-subsidy laws on Chinese imports to filing WTO…cases. We play by the rules and we expect others to do the same.”

In January 2007, Viet Nam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) following 11 years of negotiations.

For the full article, click here.


CHRC holds briefing on religious freedom in South Asia

In a staff briefing sponsored by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and The India Caucus, witnesses discussed the state of religious freedom in South Asia, particularly with respect to followers of Hindu and Islam in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The witnesses represented the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops of Bangladesh, Hindu American Foundation, Ahmadiyya Movement, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The majority of the discussion revolved around the anti-conversion and anti-blasphemy laws that exist in south Asia.

According to Angela Wu, the director of international advocacy at the Becket Fund, and Tad Stahnke of the U.S. Commission on International Religions Freedom, the anti-blasphemy laws are blatantly discriminatory. While governmental rhetoric characterizes the legislation as protecting all religions, preference is actually given to certain religions while others are oppressed, according to Wu and Stahnke. In Pakistan, for example, the anti-blasphemy laws restrict freedom of speech, freedom of religion and other rights included in international human rights law. The laws, by their very nature, lend themselves to abuse by those who seek to ensure the prominence of one particular religion, they said. Such laws in Pakistan have recently been used against Younis Masih, a Christian who was recently sentenced to death after being accused of insulting Islam.

In March 2007, Pakistan submitted a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council in support of ending the defamation of religions. While the aim was to prosecute offensive language, in reality the legislation allows authorities to pass down lengthy sentences for those who are merely exercising the right to free expression, religion and conscience, the witnesses said. Someone who practices one religion could be accused of insulting another language, especially in countries that specify a state religion. In Pakistan, blasphemy laws are said to be consistently exploited for the benefit of the government, and run counter to international human rights norms.

In Bangladesh, discrimination against Hindus has greatly diminished the population of adherents of that faith. In 1961, for example, 18.5 percent of the country’s population was Hindu. Ten years later, 10 million Hindus were forced to flee to India. In 2001, after Bangladesh declared Islam as the state religion, the Hindu population dwindled to 9.5 percent. According to the witnesses, anti-conversion and anti-blasphemy laws are used in Bangladesh as a way to limit the practice of alternative faiths.

In Afghanistan, the Hindu population was greatly affected by the Taliban regime. The ultra-fundamentalist group forced Hindus to wear yellow arm bands and fly yellow flags above their homes, evoking measures used in Germany during World War II. Now under the current government of President Hamid Karzai, the witnesses said that the Afghan constitution, while rhetorically respecting al religions, has served as a means of discrimination against religious minorities through preferential treatment of Islam.


Policy options in Iraq: How and when does the withdrawal begin?

Today the House Foreign Relations Committee met to discuss U.S. policy options in the Iraq crisis. Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) opened by demanding that there be a plan for withdraw from Iraq, and that the Bush administration and Congress choose the “least bad” option.

The hearing continued with opening remarks from the many lawmakers present. Some argued that the troops should pull out immediately, citing a need to put an end to the failures that have plagued the operation from the outset, while others contented that the U.S. must wait and that premature troop removal will result in a regional collapse and the rise of Islamic extremism. Powerful statements were delivered by both Democrats and Republicans, with Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.) saying: “Wars are not won by an evacuation,” and Rep. Lynn Woolsey countering with: “You can’t win an occupation.”

The ideological schism that has paralyzed the Committee, and Congress as a whole, was ever-present and well stated, leaving the assembled witnesses with much to contend with. Steven Simon, HasibJ. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, delivered the first testimony, stating that whether or not we have a presence in Iraq, a civil war is happening and will continue to happen. He warned that no matter what occurs, continued indecisiveness and dissent within the U.S. government would only encourage the insurgents and their cause. Simon also addressed several questions that had been posed about the war. He said that the current conditions in Iraq do not lend themselves to the occurrence of genocide, as some have suggested. He also commented on al-Qaeda, saying that a destabilized Iraq that has animosity towards the U.S. is conducive to further recruitment. Simon warned that if the U.S. is to have a drastic and complete troop pullout, it must be prepared to leave much of the military equipment behind, and that care should be taken with respect to whose hands the equipment is left in. Finally, Simon suggested that the support that is currently going towards military operations be reallocated for social programs and rebuilding infrastructure within Iraq.

James Dobbins, Director for International Security and Defense Policy Center, stressed that the U.S. will need the support of the region in order to be successful. He compared the situation in Iraq to Bosnia in the mid 1990s, saying that all parties had to be present at the negotiating table before an agreement was reached there, and expecting any less in Iraq was unrealistic. Afghanistan was also used as an example of a instance where there was much support from within the nation and from neighboring countries. He also stressed that the U.S. could not look to build stability in Iraq, while “destabilizing” the rest of the region by taking on Iran and their nuclear program.

Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research said that the U.S. cannot pull out of Iraq. He said that remaining in the country shows staying power and is the only way that the U.S. can empower Iraqis and safely hand over power. Rubin also made several warnings, including that the argument that redeployment into Iraqi Kurdistan should be avoided. Rubin stressed the importance of the fragile U.S.-Turkey relationship, which he said would be at stake if America oversteps its bounds. Rubin also cautioned that partitioning Iraq would ultimately only result in more displaced people and act as an added catalyst for already high ethnic tensions. All of this, he said, was based on the fact that Kurdish unity is more theoretic than actual, and that the U.S. should focus on Iraq as a whole, and not look for leadership from the north.

Questions following the witnesses opening statements mostly related to one small facet of each plan and never addressed Iraq policy options as a whole. All sides agreed that the U.S. would pull out eventually, but the real question is when and how. Both sides offered realistic supporting evidence as to why the U.S. should or shouldn’t pull out immediately, but by the end of the session both sides were back to the same stalemate they were in when the session began.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Trapped Palestinians riot inside el-Arish airport

Riots erupted in an Egypt-Gaza Strip border town early Tuesday as about 100 Palestinians smashed doors and windows inside the el-Arish airport after being trapped there for more than a month, police and one of the rioters said, according to The Associated Press.

An AP reporter was denied entry into the airport today but saw dozens of riot police deployed outside. One of the rioters, Mohammed Ali, told the AP that police with batons and shields stormed the airport and clashed with rioters, injuring two.

The Palestinians, mostly students and government employees who do not have entry visas for Egypt, have been stuck in the airport since the closing of the Rafah border crossing June 9, when Hamas began to take control of Gaza. Many have complained of increasingly desperate living conditions.

“We are living in a 100 square meters. There are no services… We have lost our minds,” Ali told the AP by telephone early Tuesday.

Along with the 100 Palestinians in el-Arish airport, there are about 4000 other Palestinians stranded on Egypt’s side of the Gaza border. Many say they are having trouble finding food and shelter.

Egypt has said it is ruling out opening the border anytime soon to put pressure on Hamas to resolve its current conflict with Fatah, MENA reported. Egyptian officials are worried a Hamas-ruled Gaza could bolster Egypt’s own banned Islamic opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood.

For the full article, click here.

Torture gear and 40 illegally-held detainees discovered in police station

Egyptian officials have found torture gear – including a whip, clubs and a barbed wire-studded stick – at a police station in Alexandria, Egypt, a security source said today, according to the Middle East Times.

The Montaza police station has also held 40 people illegally, an investigating team found, after receiving complaints from the families of those detained.

The prosecutor has ordered the release of the detainees, confiscated the torture equipment, and launched an inquiry into the matter, the security source said.

In January, Amnesty International called on the Egyptian government to investigate all torture claims after a series of videos of alleged torture in police stations were leaked on the internet.

For the full article, click here.

Afghan president to meet Bush at Camp David

President Bush has invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Camp David for talks next month on stability in Afghanistan and the ongoing “war on terror,” Agence France Presse reported today.

According to a statement issued by the White House today, “The presidents will review their work together to enhance Afghanistan's long-term democracy, prosperity, and security.” The statement added: “The president looks forward to hosting the Afghan leader for his first visit to Camp David.”

The visit comes amid heightened criticism over the increasing civilian death toll from U.S.-NATO strikes. Karzai has called for a change in strategy on numerous occasions, denouncing “extreme use of force” by foreign troops.

The announcement of the August visit also comes in the wake of clashes in southern Afghanistan between coalition troops and the Taliban that have left thousands dead.

For the full article, click here.


Afghan province named as UNESCO historical site

The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced the addition of several locations in Afghanistan to its World Heritage List of historical sites, RFE/RL reported on Monday.

New historical sites include ancient Herat city, which houses many historic relics.

Decades of instability have ravaged many culturally important locations, despite UNESCO’s attempts at preservation. The Afghan interim government in 2002 delivered a mandate for cultural preservation, leading UNESCO to develop the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage.

The safeguarding of cultural sites has been nearly impossible over the course of the past 30 years because of near-constant conflict.

For the full article, click here.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Teenager trained to be a suicide bomber released

Rafiqullah, a 14-year-old Pakistani boy trained to be a suicide bomber, was released by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday, The Associated Press reported the same day. Karzai invited Rafiqullah and his father to the presidential palace after terminating the prison sentence.

Trained as a suicide bomber in a Pakistani madrassa, or religious school, Rafiqullah was instructed to kill an Afghan governor. After walking eight hours to the Afghan border, Rafiqullah was given an explosive vest and instructions from a man named Abdul Aziz.

“I said I was afraid to carry out the suicide attack, and Abdul Aziz pointed a gun at me and said ‘I'll kill you if you don’t,’” Rafiqullah said in an interview.

Karzai said of the case: “Today we are faced with a fearful and terrifying truth, and that truth is the sending of a Muslim child to carry out a suicide attack.”

The Afghan government presented Rafiqullah with $2,000 in order to return to Pakistan. “I wish for him a good life,” Karzai said. “The message of the Afghan people is a message of kindness, a message of good relations, good business and trade, not deceiving and encouraging people’s children to carry out suicide attacks.”

Last month, reports surfaced that a 6-year-old boy had been recruited by Taliban forces to be a suicide bomber. According to Rafiqullah, two other teenagers from his madrassa had also been pegged to conduct suicide attacks. The United Nations considers the use of child combatants to be a war crime.

For the full article, click here.


Rights group calls on Germany to stop revoking refugee status of Iraqis

In November 2003, the German Federal Office for Refugees and Migration began sending letters to Iraqi refugees within Germany to notify them that their asylum status would be revoked. Human Rights Watch sent a letter to German officials on July 10 urging them to end the proposed revocations in light of the current situation in Iraq.

The German government’s letters, which have now been sent to some 20,000 refugees, state that Iraqis are no longer at risk for persecution by the government. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugee status may be revoked if “the circumstances that caused a person to be a refugee have ceased to exist, but the changes that occur must be both fundamental and durable.”

The German government assures that this change in status will not mean immediate deportation. Whether or not deportation is the next step for Iraqis in Germany, Human Rights Watch argues that the revocations would send the wrong message to Iraq’s neighbors, particularly Syria and Jordan, who are shouldering the largest burdens in the massive exodus. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are 1.9 million internally displaced persons in Iraq and another 2 million refugees outside the country.

For the full article, click here.


Egyptian authorities arrested 35 suspected members of an al-Qaeda-inspired group in April

Thirty five men who were secretly arrested in April are being investigated by the State Security Court on charges of suspected membership in an al-Qaeda-inspired group that planned to carry out attacks in Egypt, an Egyptian police official said Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

The suspects, all of whom are Egyptian, are suspected of joining a group that sought to topple the Egyptian government and carry out attacks financed by a militant organization in Iraq affiliated with al-Qaeda, said the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

Police arrested the suspects after receiving a tip that the group was promoting its goals on the Internet. One of the first postings from mid-2006 praises slain al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as “the courageous leader.” The latest posting on the website included statements from militant groups claiming responsibility for attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

For the full article, click here.

Egypt’s battle against bloggers continues

Two Egyptian bloggers on their way to cover a military court session for the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested today, according to Global Voices.

Arresting bloggers has recently occurred more frequently in Egypt. The case of Kareem Amer, which is a pseudonym for 22-year-old Abdel Kareem Nabil, gained international attention when he was sentenced this February to three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition and one year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak on his blog.

Ahmed El Geizawy of ana Bahebek ya Misr (I love you Egypt) blog and Moataz Adel of Manfa blog were arrested today. The Egyptian Watchman blog is calling upon all parties concerned with freedom of speech and expression to stand by the two detained bloggers.

For the full article, click here.

UNHCR doubles its request for Iraq funding

According to a spokesman, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) will be doubling its appeal for Iraqi refugee funding assistance from $60 million to $123 million, The Associated Press reported on July 12.

Thousands of refugees are fleeing to Syria and Jordan daily.

The agency is in need of more funds to help the some 2.2 million Iraqi refugees and 2 million internally displaced persons.

For the full article, click here


Governor fired after criticizing Karzai

Abdul Sattar Murad, governor of Kapisa, was dismissed from his position following criticisms of the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Reuters reported today.

Although the government claimed that the governor was removed following complaints of ineffective governing from civilians, Murad contends that he is being punished for publicly expressing his dissatisfaction with national leadership.

“What is missing is leadership. Afghanistan (is) at this critical moment of its history, we don't have a leadership that can unite the national leaders, which can see the needs of people and respond to them,” Murad said in an interview published last week.

Murad’s remarks are the first public display of frustration with Karzai’s policies by a senior official since the fall of the Taliban. His comments come as civilians are becoming increasingly wary of the government’s attempts at enhancing economic development and reducing civilian deaths and corruption.

For the full article, click here.