Sunday, September 21, 2003


This just makes me sad.

ABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 20 — Outrage over a plan to build high-end residences in central Kabul for government officials is threatening to discredit the 20-month-old administration of President Hamid Karzai.

The accusations come as Mr. Karzai enters the last year of his current term and he prepares for another foreign tour to raise money to rebuild. His government has already been losing support because of perceived injustices and the government's slowness in its reconstruction efforts.

To build the new housing, which would be for Afghan cabinet ministers, government officials and mujahedeen commanders, a crew of 100 armed police officers with bulldozers started demolishing the modest mud-walled houses of about 30 families two weeks ago.

The crew broke down walls of 12 houses, injuring at least two children who were inside, residents said. In scuffles with the residents, the police beat several with rifle butts, residents said, leaving at least two men with cuts on their heads.

"We received no warning," said Rahmat Shah, a former army colonel who lived in one of the houses with his wife and 10 children. "We faced armed people who said our houses were rubbish." Some families have repaired their damaged homes and refuse to leave.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission's special representative for housing, Miloon Kothari, was in Kabul at the time. He criticized the evictions and also questioned a system that allowed government officials to receive land and housing ahead of half a million people who have applied for land allocations in the city.

He accused the defense minister, Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim, and the capital's police chief, Abdul Basir Salangi, of being behind the action and said they should be removed from office. He also implicated the education minister, Yunus Qanooni.

There's more. Go read the rest.