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Police subject us to hard labor and deny wages: Farah addicts

Police subject us to hard labor and deny wages: Farah addicts

Oct 28, 2017 - 21:02

FARAH CITY (Pajhwok): Drug addicts in western Farah province say police take them to do some hard works such as digging trenches and beat them on demanding wages or food.

A number of drug addicts live in caves in famous Qala-i-Faridon. Their weak bodies, dirty clothes and their complaints against police speak of the volume of their hard life.

Abdul Karim, 35, a resident of Farah City, has been living in Qala-i-Faridon with other addicts away from his wife and two daughters over the past four years. He consumes opium and shisha.

Coming out of a dark and fogy cave, Karim in dirty dress and hairs tightened a piece of cloth around his head and started complaining about police.

On spotting camera, the addict showed an injury in his leg and said: “It is due to police, see how much they beat us. They receive money for construction of trenches but put the money in pockets and force us to work for free.”

On a daily bases, he claimed, police came to the area and took with some addicts to work for free. “They ask addicts to clean their offices, construct trenches, dig wells and do other hard works.”

Abdul Karim said police never paid to addicts for the work they did and behaved with them in cruel manner. He said his physical condition did not allow him to work but police often forced him to work.

He added police had twice taken him by force to work in construction of Sultan Amir check-post.

He said he was living in the case because his family’s economic condition was bad and that he could not afford his treatment.

Abdul Karim said his father was responsible for supporting the family and he too should work and support his family, asking police not to deny wages of addicted laborers.

Samiullah, another drug addict, said: “Police always force us into work, they deny wages, we have no option but to rob people’s homes. We need money, we have to buy drug.”

Abdul Manan, 28, who was sitting next to a wall in terrible condition, agreed with Abdul Karim. “Police take us by force to work and keep us until evening. They daily come here and take four or five of us and in return give us nothing.”He said harassment of addicts by police had a long history.

Khalil, 30, who was somehow in stable condition, also complained against mistreatment of police. He said: “Despite no wages, police refuse to give us food and water during work. We take our own bread in a bag but we cannot eat them as long as we work. Police beat us with sticks and kicks.”

Another youngster with dusty face and cracked lips, Sayed Ahmad, said: “A while ago, ANP personnel came here and tried to force me into going with them but I refused as I was not feeling good. They beat me up until my head started bleeding. I then fell unconscious.”

Naimatullah, another drug addict in Bagh-i-Kafi, said: “Military and NDS members say nothing to us. But only police forcibly take us to government or their private work. In addition, they beat us and trample on our rights. If we try to raise our voice, they hit us and no one has so far heard our complaints.”

A number of area residents also confirmed police forced drug addicts into work.  Abdullah, a resident of Bagh-i-Kafi, confirmed he had many times witnessed police throwing junkies forcibly into pick-ups. “They beat them and take them for work.”

He condemned the police act, saying in an Islamic society, drug addicts shouldn’t be oppressed or treated as such.

Barayalai Ghafori, a civil society activist, about the topic, said: “We hear people saying this and we also have seen police capturing drug addicts on various pretexts. The police beat them and then drag them to their police district police stations for works.”

Ghafori denounced the act as a violation of humanitarian rights, asking organizations concerned, especially the provincial police headquarters, to prevent this act by identifying and punishing the police involved.

Unawareness of officials regarding addicts’ human rights abuse

Ahmad Ziya Langari, an employee at Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), said the commission had no agency in Farah and they had received no such report.

However, he said: “Addicts just like other humans have their rights. They are patients and they shouldn’t be treated badly. If police have really misbehaved with them, they have violated human rights. Police should take such people to hospitals for treatment instead of behaving with them in bad manner.” He said the issue would be pursued by AIHRC’s Herat chapter.

Abdul Waheed Hidayat, representative of the High Commission for Combating Crimes of Abduction and Trafficking in Persons, told Pajhwok they had received no such complaint so far.

“If such kind of issue exists, then it is violation of human rights. We will share the issue with the Ministry of Interior (MoI) in order they investigate it thoroughly.”

Pajhwok shared the complaints and pains of Farah drug addicts with the Provincial police headquarters, not much far from Qala-i-Faridoon and Bagh-i-Kafi.

Lt. Col. Gulbahar Mujahid, provincial deputy police chief, said he was not aware if addicts were mistreated, saying they had also not received complaints. “Workers are hired by police against wages for fortifying security posts or any other construction works.”

He said addicts’ complaints would be investigated, adding, “I send a warning to police personnel from here. How can police be so cruel to people who have already fallen prey to harm? They should show compassion to such segment of society, if policemen really do this, they are doing persecution.”

Mujahid said if addicts expressed willingness to do work they should be employed against fair wages.

The unawareness of government authorities about the addicts’ situation and issues they face follows a 1393 Pajhowk report in the province, in which the police chief had expressed unawareness about the issue and had promised pursuing the problem.

According to information by the deputy police chief, as many as 430 addicts, including some from Helmand, Nimroz and Kandahar provinces, exist in Qalai-i-Faridoon and Bagh-i-Kafi areas.

Based on a survey published in 2013 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the number of drug addicts in the province is at around 45,000 individuals.

These addicts constitute 10 percent of the total population of Farah because the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO) estimates the population of the province as 450,000 people.

About three million addicts exist across Afghanistan.