Civilian War Victims Shared Their Expectations and Questions with the Negotiating Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
The Consultative Meeting of the Negotiating Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was held by the State Ministry for Peace in the presence of Asadullah Saadati, Deputy Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
This meeting was attended by Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Head of the Negotiating Team, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace and a member of the negotiating team, Mawlawi Ataullah Ludin, Habiba Sarabi, Fawzia Koofi, Batur Dostum and Sharifa Zurmati Wardak, members of the negotiating team, government officials, and 49 persons representing civilian war victims.
In the introductory speech of the program, Dr. Alema, Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Civil Society at the State Ministry for Peace, said that this meeting was held in continuation to the series of meetings of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the 22 groups that participated in the Peace Consultative Loya Jirga.
Regarding the importance of the meeting, she said that the victims of the war are those whose voices should be heard in the peace process and whose pain should be healed in the post-negotiation stages.
On the other hand, Asadullah Saadati, Deputy Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, thanked the State Ministry for Peace for holding such meetings and called the connection of the people with the negotiating team through virtual channels a good initiative.
Mr. Saadati said that the pain of the Afghan people should be healed and the rights of the martyrs and the families of those who sacrificed should be considered. He stressed that there is a need for such a peace that we could at least give a reasonable response to the wounded, victims and martyrs of the war.
He also said that the negotiating team in Doha is working with initiative, unity, coordination, seriousness, determination and a broad vision to achieve a reasonable and lasting peace, and that all the people of Afghanistan support them.
Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Head of the Negotiating Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, said at the meeting: “To achieve a just peace that benefits all the people, the view of the Negotiating Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is that all the war victims should be genuinely considered.”
Emphasizing the importance of the role of war victims in the peace process, he added: "The views of war victims will help us in negotiating with the other side and it will help us to give the war victims a central role in addressing their rights by including their views in the agenda.”
The war victims then shared their opinions, questions and demands with the negotiating team.
Homa Azizi, one of the war victims said that peace can change our lives and war can harm as even more. She called for an end to the war and the presence of war victims in the peace process.
Neda al-Haq Shamelzai, head of the Council of the Heirs of the Martyrs, also said that the war victims want the negotiating team to work for peace and called on the Taliban to pursue their interests in peace.
Masood Safi, Chairman of the National Council of Martyrs and the Disabled, said that a great opportunity for peace has been created and the people of Afghanistan are optimistic that the peace negotiations would have a positive outcome and be successful. He called on the Taliban to announce ceasefire so that the negotiations are carried out in a peaceful environment.
Mr. Safi called the achievements of the Afghan people in recent years as the result of the blood of war victims and stressed the need to preserve them.
Habib Rahman Bakhshi, chairman of the National Assembly of the Children of the Martyrs, said the negotiations should provide victims with access to justice, truth and reparation, and ensure an end to war and violence in the country.
He called for the establishment of an independent and specialized body entitled "fact-finding and documentation". This will help to shed light on the tragic events of war and violence and to heal the victims of Afghanistan, and also it strengthens the social foundations for peace.
Hadi Marefat, director of Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, said that the victims were the main sufferers of the war, adding that the war victims want a victim-centered peace and justice.
He stressed that victims should be recognized as one of the stakeholders; This means that victims have a direct role to play in setting the agenda, policies, and drafting peace agreements and post-peace decisions.
Then the negotiating team answered the questions and concerns of war victims.
Mawlawi Ataullah Ludin said that the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic defends the rights of the war victims in the light of the constitution and nothing will be done against their will, the constitution and the Sharia. He added that the unlawful war must end. We will defend the war victims and respect their rights in any relevant agenda in peace negotiations. We will pave the way for a just peace.
Sharifa Zurmati Wardak also said that the negotiating team has a responsibility to protect all the values of the Afghan people and the rights of war victims. She added that joint mechanisms have been set up to receive victims' opinions, concerns and suggestions.
Ms. Zurmati also said that the rights of war victims should be respected by both sides in the negotiations.
Fawzia Koofi said that the issues presented by the victims of the war at the meeting were also the main lines of the negotiating team.
She added that the rights of the victims were discussed in all the meetings and it is necessary to provide the ground for the victims to attend direct meetings with the negotiators of the other party as well.
Batur Dostum also stressed the importance of unity among the people and said that the negotiating team unanimously defends the rights of the Afghan people and that unanimity inside Afghanistan is of particular importance. He added that the sacrifices of the people have enabled us to defend our common values in the negotiation process today. It is an honor to represent this group.
Referring to the team’s communication mechanisms with the people, Habiba Sarabi said that interest groups can cooperate by mobilizing the people and referring to national and international institutions to fulfill the demands of war victims.
Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace and a member of the negotiating team, concluded the meeting by saying that victim-centered justice is one of the main discussion topics of the negotiating team and that defending war victims and preventing further casualties is a religious and moral responsibility. He also said that the main winners of the peace negotiations should be the families of the war victims and that they should enjoy their human rights.
Mr. Naderi also said that he would work to establish a joint committee consist of war victims' representatives, their supporters, the High Council for National Reconciliation and the State Ministry for Peace. He said that the presence of war victims from both sides, according to the experiences of other countries, will accelerate the negotiation process.
The meeting which was organized by the State Ministry for Peace, was attended by representatives of the Council of the Heirs of the Martyrs, the Institute for Peace and Freedom for Afghan Women, the Social Center for the Disabled and War Victims, the Transitional Justice Coordination Group, the National Council for the Disabled, the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, the Council of the Disabled, Feminine Solidarity for Justice Organization, the Helmand Women's Peace Tent Group, and a number of civilian war victims, including the 100-bed Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital and Maw'ood Education Center.