Nine days after the controversial arrest of a Faryab police commander, protestors closed the provincial office of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Maimana city and threatening to boycott the upcoming polls if their demands are not met.
Their main demand, the protestors said, is the return of the First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum to the country and the immediate release of Nizamuddin Qaisari, the police chief of Qaisar district and close aide to Dostum, who was arrested by the Army’s Special Forces last Monday.
Some protestors in Maimana City on Wednesday burnt also their national identity cards, or Tazkeras and warned they would close government offices if their demands are not addressed.
“The central government is not hearing our voice. The Faryab people already decided that they will take the next step. This next step was the closure of the election commission office in Faryab. It means that elections will be boycotted if we don’t achieve our demands,” said Atta Mohammad Faizi, head of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Party in Faryab.
“It is the ninth day that Faryab residents are raising their voices for justice against the fascist government. I don’t know where are the human rights,” said Mohammad, a resident of Faryab.
“There is injustice ongoing against us because Nizamuddin Qaisari was the voice of the Faryab people,” said Nasima, another protestor.
Protests started last Tuesday when hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in protest over Qaisari’s arrest. By Wednesday these numbers swelled to an estimated 5,000.
In the days that followed, protest action continued, despite the appointment of a new governor and last week’s arrival in the city of a special delegation sent to bring the situation under control.
The protests have meanwhile had an impact on the lives of locals, many of whom have been forced to shut their businesses at times. The road that connects Maimana to Aqina Port, the border with Turkmenistan, has also been closed by protestors.
One goldsmith said he has had to remain closed as he worries about being looted if he opens for business.
“There is no trust in the situation. Protests are ongoing. Maybe shops will be burnt or robbed. Therefore, no one brings gold to their shops,” he said.
Some residents meanwhile went as far as to say they see no signs of an end to the situation in Faryab and other northern provinces – that have also had to deal with protest action.
Government Offices Closed In Jawzjan
Reports from Jawzjan meanwhile indicate that government offices, schools and the Jawzjan-Aqina Highway have been closed for about a week due to the growing protest action by Junbish-e-Milli supporters.
The protestors warned that they will disconnect Kabul’s electricity supply, that runs through the province, and close more roads if their demands are not met.
“The inattention of government towards this matter is worrying,” said Mohammad Aziz, a protestor from Jawzjan.
“With a high possibility, Kabul’s electricity will be cut off by tomorrow (Thursday) and the (Kabul-North) highway will be closed to traffic,” another protestor, Mohammad Sharif, said.
On Tuesday, some close aides to Dostum claimed that the Army’s Special Forces Unit that arrested Qaisari, assaulted his bodyguards at the time of his arrest.
Qaisari was arrested by Afghan Commandos last week in Faryab after being accused of insulting government.
Immediately after his arrest, Qaisari was flown to Kabul where he is being detained.
Qaisari’s arrest provoked widespread anger in Faryab – anger that has since spilled over into other northern provinces.