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Afghan victims of past abuses find voice in new UN-backed play

Afghan victims of past abuses find voice in new UN-backed play

Afghan children (file photo)
A new United Nations-supported theatre show that premiered in Kabul today highlights the need to deal with the impunity of past human rights abuses spanning nearly three decades of conflict in Afghanistan and provides an opportunity for victims to have their voices heard.

Named after an anonymous Afghan prisoner known as ‘AH-5787,’ the show illustrates how many Afghans continue to carry the pain of the country’s strife-filled past and how victims struggle to find a way to deal with incidents of violence.

“The people of Afghanistan are crying out for justice,” said Norah Niland, head of the human rights unit in the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). “Justice deals not only with prosecutions, but also with the need for a deep understanding of what happened in the past.”

In a monologue with the audience, the main character, Sardar, explores many of the questions that victims have to tackle with, including those relating to justice, revenge and peace. “There is a great history of story-telling and oral history in Afghanistan and through this play we hope to tap into that tradition,” stated Ms. Niland.

Thousands of Afghan men, women and children were subjected to various human rights abuses during over the past several decades, including the right to life and safety, freedom of movement, and access to education and health. Many of those responsible for these crimes have yet to be brought to justice.

In 2005, the Afghan Government adopted an action plan to try to address the abuses of the past, achieve peace with justice and promote national reconciliation, but it has suffered from lack of implementation.

The show, performed in Dari and Pashto, is produced with support from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the German Development Service. It is set to begin touring Afghan provinces in the coming weeks.