Suicide Bombing Kills Several in Afghanistan

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KABUL, Afghanistan – As part preparing for upcoming elections in Afghanistan this October, the government has set up voter registration centers across the country.  On 22 April as people lined up outside a center in Dasht-i-Barchineighborhood of Kabul, a pedestrian walked into the crowd and detonated a bomb.

Shattered window of voter registration center in Kabul. Photo courtesy of Rahmat Gul.

The Islamic state claimed responsibility for this attack.  Their website said that the attack was aimed toward ‘apostate’ Shiites.  This neighborhood is mainly Shiite Hazara, a minority that has been frequently targeted by the Islamic State.

Local buildings and cars were also destroyed.  Voter registration cards and personal identification documents scattered the street. At least 57 people were killed in the attack.  Another 119 are wounded.  Women, children, and young students are part of those killed.  This is considered to be one of the deadliest attack this year, and the deadliest attack on election preparations so far.

Residents of the area said that they were still determined to register to vote.  President Ashraf Ghani said of the attacks that they will “never weaken the resolve and will of our people for wider participation in the democratic process.”

The government closed two other registration centers in Kabul as well as stationed police patrols in Dasht-i-Barchi and the surrounding areas.

For more information please visit:

Washington Post – At least 57 Afghans killed in Kabul suicide bombing, health officials say– 22 April 2018

Reuters – Blast at election center in Afghan capital kills more than 50 – 22 April 2018

NPR – Suicide Bomber Kills Dozens At Voting Center In Afghanistan – 22 April 2018

 

Armenian Government Arrests Protesters

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

YEREVAN, Armenia –  Protests erupted in Armenia after 2 government appointments were announced.

Protesters gather in the main square of Yerevan. Photo Courtesy of Artyom Geodakyan.

The previous president, Serzh Sarkisian, second term ended on 9 April 2018.  Yet, the Parliament elected him Prime Minister just 8 days later, elongating his time in power.  The vote was 76 to 17 with no abstentions.  Parliament also elected Armen Sarkisian, who Serzh Sarkisian endorsed, as the new President.

People have been gathering in the capital city of Yerevan over the past few days to protest this change in power.  Crowds have been so large that traffic has been blocked and the Those there were waving Armenian flags and shouting “Armenia without Serzh.”  The protest leader Nikol Pashinian, an opponent Parliament member, said, “Sarkisian lacks legitimacy and has earned the hatred of Armenians.”

The protests have been mainly peaceful; however, olice warned that the protests were illegal and that they would be “discontinued.”  On 16 April, the demonstrators clashed with the police.  Forty-six people were injured, including 6 policemen.

On 18 April police detained 87 demonstrators.  Only 30 were held on administrative charges such as “holding rallies in violation of the established procedures,” or “participation in mass riots.”  The rest were detained as witness in ongoing investigations about the protests.

Under Armenian Law, witnesses can be detained for interrogation if they don’t respond to a summons to appear. Additionally, they can only be detained for three hours without be recorded or released.  In the case of the arrests made during the protests, many people were held up to 9 hours.

For more information please visit:

 Human Rights Watch – Police in Armenia Detain Dozens of Demonstrators – 19 April 2018

Voice of America – Tens Of Thousands Protest In Yerevan, Other Armenian Cities Against Sarkisian As New Prime Minister – 17 April 2018

AlJazeera – Why are Armenians protesting against the new prime minister? – 19 April 2018