New film has evidence of...
By Nicole Colson | June 21, 2002 | Page 2
THOUSANDS OF Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan may have been killed and tortured as U.S. Special Forces troops stood by and watched--or in some cases participated. That's the allegation of Massacre at Mazar, a documentary by Scottish filmmaker Jamie Doran.
Earlier this month, Doran screened 20 minutes of his unfinished film for members of the German and European parliaments. Doran's film shows witnesses describing the role of U.S. soldiers in the transport and murder of thousands of prisoners during last year's war in Afghanistan.
Of 8,000 Taliban soldiers taken prisoner after the fall of the city Kunduz in November, as many as 5,000 are unaccounted for, says Doran. According to news reports from the time, the prisoners were shipped in metal train cars--each holding 200 to 300 prisoners--across the desert to the Sherberghan prison, near Mazar-i-Sharif.
Witnesses who spoke to Doran said that hundreds of the prisoners suffocated. "The containers were loaded onto trucks and moved towards Sherberghan," Doran told Salon magazine. "When they arrived, one witness--another soldier--talks about how an American officer, on seeing the carnage, told them to get [the bodies] out of the town of Sherberghan. Two drivers who were interviewed separately talk of being forced to take container-loads of dead, wounded and unconscious into the desert of Dasht-i-Leili, where the bodies were taken from the containers. Some of them were alive They were lined up and summarily shot by machine-gun fire by the Northern Alliance."
One driver said that 30 to 40 American soldiers were present on at least one occasion when prisoners were executed.
The Pentagon denies any involvement--or even that a massacre took place at all. "I think it surfaced in March, and we looked at them, and they were unfounded," Major Brad Lowell told reporters.
But according to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), there is strong evidence of mass graves in Afghanistan containing the bodies of victims of massacres. PHR staff have performed autopsies on three bodies they say were discovered at mass grave sites near Mazar-i-Sharif. All three had been suffocated to death.