Hunger Strike Revives Allegations Of Mistreatment At Afghan Prisons

KABUL — The notorious Pul-e Charkhi prison outside Kabul has long been a byword for torture and violence.  During the Soviet invasion, prison guards were accused of executing thousands of opposition political figures.  In the past decade, inmates have alleged widespread abuse and mistreatment at the hands of Afghan officials. Those allegations of prisoner mistreatment resurfaced this week after prison officials at Pul-e Charkhi confirmed that at least 100 inmates had gone on hunger strike and sewed their lips together in protest at what they say are inhumane conditions.  The protest comes at a time when lawmakers and rights activists are becoming increasingly concerned about the Afghan government’s preparations to take full control of another notorious prison located on the grounds of Bagram air base.  Naimatullah Ghafari, the second deputy speaker of parliament, claims current conditions at Afghan prisons are worrying, with inmates suffering from a lack of clothing and other shortages.  “There are problems there [in Pul-e Charkhi],” he says. “The electricity is cut off and there are also shortages in water and food supplies.”  Ghafari adds that a delegation will be sent to investigate the situation in Pul-e-Charkhi, which is run by the Afghan government and houses over 3,000 inmates, many of them ex-Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters as well as convicted murderers and drug smugglers.

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