Thursday, August 28, 2014


News / From Our Bureaus

Police Break Up Protest By Ousted Afghan Lawmaker


WATCH: A clip on YouTube purportedly shows Afghan hunger striker Simeen Barakzai being led away by the police as the tents used for her protest are dismantled.

KABUL -- Afghan police have broken up a protest by a hunger-striking female politician and her supporters and taken her to hospital, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

Police overnight dismantled the tent outside the presidential building in Kabul where ousted lawmaker Simeen Barakzai had been on hunger strike for 12 days to demand her reinstatement in parliament.

Speaking in Kabul on October 14, supporters of Barakzai who had joined her hunger strike this week said she was forced into a car and taken to Daud Khan Hospital, where she is currently receiving treatment.

The supporters claimed police, disguised as doctors, dismantled their tents, handcuffed and beat them, and took them to a local police station where they were held overnight and released this morning.

Interior Ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi confirmed that Barakzai was taken to a hospital, but denied any misconduct against the former politician or her supporters.  

"Yes, police escorted Barakzai to a hospital in Kabul. We all know that she was in a very serious health condition," Siddiqi told RFE/RL.

"I can confirm that the police were in their rights as they had received information that Barakzai was in danger from enemies who wanted to harm her," he said, without elaborating. "The situation was handled in an orderly fashion."

Barakzai, 30, was among nine lawmakers expelled from parliament in August over vote-rigging claims.

Barakzai has been in a critical condition, but speaking earlier this week she vowed not to eat or drink anything until she is reinstated.

To show their support a female member of parliament, Nilofar Ibrahimi, along with a number of civil activists and students from Kabul University, joined the hunger strike on October 11.

Barakzai and eight fellow lawmakers were removed by the Independent Election Commission in August in a bid to end a dispute over who should occupy seats in the Afghan parliament.

The saga has continued for more than one year after elections were marred by widespread fraud.

Sixty-two losing candidates challenged the election results in a special court. Earlier this summer the court declared them winners, saying 62 lawmakers should be unseated.

But the Independent Election Commission in August decided to replace only nine.
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