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2001-12-14

What Really Happened at the Prison Uprising Near Mazar-I-Sharif

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U.S. planes are continuing to bomb the mountain hideouts of trapped Al-Qaeda fighters after the expiration of a surrender-or-die ultimatum from the U.S.-backed Afghan forces besieging them. Al Queda forces had previously offered to surrender in the presence of UN troops and diplomats from their own countries. Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters inthe southern part of Afghanistan needed only to look north for a glimpse of their possible fate. In one of the most notorious atrocities of the war, hundreds of foreign Taliban prisoners were massacred in a prison uprising inMazar-I-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan by Northern Alliance forces and US bombers.

Amnesty International has called for an investigation into the incident, saying that "serious abuses of internationalhuman rights and humanitarian law may have been committed".

And UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson said, "If there are contraventions of standards — prisoners orcivilians — the leaders of forces should be disqualified from a future government." She said, the worstperpetrators should be brought to justice," and added that a probe would be "a standard-setting exercise". But theUS and Northern Alliance have brushed aside requests for an investigation.

Democracy Now! has been trying for weeks to reach Justin Huggler, a reporter for the London Independent, whowent to Mazar-I-Sharif shortly after the massacre took place. We finally reached him by satellite phone a littlewhile ago.

Guest:

  • Justin Huggler, reporter for the London Independent, who has written a major article on themassacre at the prison outside Mazar-I-Sharif. He has also written on refugees and civilian casualties.

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