RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
December 14, 2016
A former governor has accused Afghan First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum of ordering his rape with an assault rifle and other forms of torture after he was abducted by Dostum and gunmen loyal to the ex-warlord.
The allegations follow reports last month, denied by Dostum, that former Jowzjan Governor Ahmad Ishchi had been attacked by Dostum’s men and held hostage.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has promised a “full investigation.”
Ishchi told RFE/RL late on December 13 that he was sodomized with a rifle barrel and tortured on direct orders from Dostum, who earned a ruthless reputation commanding his own militia during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s that included allegations of war crimes.
Dostum, who last month said Ishchi had been taken into custody by Afghan national troops, has issued a statement through his office dismissing the latest allegations as an attempt to defame him.
Ishchi said Dostum told 10 of his men to rape him and document it.
He claimed the vice president first told his gunmen to undress him and then threatened to rape him himself.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Ishchi used blunt language to describe the scene, which he has said followed his alleged abduction from an equestrian sports event in November.
“[Dostum] ordered his commander to [rape] me along with nine other bodyguards,” Ishchi said. “He told him to [rape] me until the ground is covered with blood and take a photograph of that situation for him.”
“As I fell face down on the floor,” he said, “it felt like I was unconscious for a few seconds. All of a sudden, I felt a pain that made me involuntarily scream.”
Ishchi said the penetration with the rifle barrel later required four or five stitches.
Afterward, he said, Dostum’s gunmen took turns posing for pictures as they held his shoulders and “pretended” to rape him. The photographs, he said, appeared to be intended to prove to Dostum that his rape order had been carried out.
Dostum was not in the room at the time of the sexual assault, Ishchi said, but he had initiated the talk of rape and even threatened to rape the captive himself.
In its statement, Dostum’s office rejected the accusations and said that “for some time there has been a destructive movement by some unknown circles against the first vice president.”
The statement added that Ishchi, a former political ally, had been detained independently by security forces and now was trying to undermine Afghan stability.
Ishchi “was detained by Afghan security forces for allegations of funding the opposition and having a hand in repeated security issues,” the statement by Dostum’s office said.
Ishchi said that he was held for five days in Dostum’s private jail before being handed over to local security officers, who held him for another 11 days.
Ishchi told RFE/RL he is determined to do all he can to restore his honor.
Reports have suggested that Dostum was seen by hundreds of people at a public sporting event on November 25 beating and then ordering his men to detain Ishchi — charges that Dostum has denied.
“He told me, ‘I could kill you right now, and no one would ask about you,'” Ishchi said, adding that Dostum had stepped on his throat at the time.
Ishchi’s allegations following his release have prompted calls by the United States, Britain, the European Union, and other Western governments for a thorough investigation.
“The unlawful detention and reported mistreatment…raises serious concerns,” the U.S. Embassy said, urging the Afghan government “to swiftly investigate.”
The European Union, Australia, Canada, and Norway also called for a “fair and transparent official investigation” of reported “gross human rights violations and abuses.”
Presidential Palace spokesman Harron Chakhansori told RFE/RL that the government had been pursuing the issue “seriously” while promising that justice will be done.
“For the Afghan government, nobody is above the law,” Chakhansori said. “Rule of law and accountability begins in the government itself, and we are committed to it.”
Decades Of Allegations
Dostum, one of the country’s most notorious former militia commanders, has been accused by international rights watchdogs of atrocities during decades of conflict in Afghanistan.
A onetime communist boss whose own 20,000-strong militia patrolled northern Afghanistan during the war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the civil war of the 1990s, Dostum’s forces at the time were accused of resorting to rape, looting, and grisly killings — including crushing criminals with tanks in public executions.
He has been accused by rights groups of involvement in the deliberate killing of up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners in shipping containers, either by shooting or suffocation. He has denied the allegation.
Amnesty International Afghanistan researcher Horia Mosadiq said Ishchi’s claims should be independently investigated. “Dostum should face justice, if he’s found guilty,” she told RFE/RL.
Mosadiq added that Dostum and other Afghan politicians faced serious accusations, including mass murders, that had not been sufficiently investigated.
The daily Sarnevesht reported that Dostum had faced another rape accusation last year that had not been investigated.
Dostum did not respond to an RFE/RL request for comment.