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For Immediate Release

Afghan General Dostum Denies Allegations of Massacre of Taliban Prisoners; Confirms Their Joint Surrender to US and Afghan Forces

Physicians for Human Rights Says His Denial Flies in the Face of Documentation

Cambridge, Mass - 07/17/2009

Cambridge, MA – "The facts gathered in the Dasht-e-Leili mass grave case contradict General Abdul Rashid Dostum's statement of July 17," stated Physicians for Human Rights Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin. "He denies that the alleged massacre of as many as 2,000 surrendered Taliban prisoners ever occurred. By claiming that the allegations are politically motivated, Dostum is clearly trying to distract focus from the substantial documentation collected over seven years of investigation by Physicians for Human Rights, the UN, and award-winning investigative journalists."

"Dostum makes a significant admission by confirming in his statement that Taliban prisoners surrendered jointly to US forces and to US-allied Afghan forces in November 2001 outside Konduz, Afghanistan," stated Nathaniel Raymond, Physicians for Human Rights' lead researcher on the Dasht-e-Leili case.

"Furthermore," said Raymond, "Dostum's blanket denial should be seen in the context of clear indications of evidence-tampering at the Dasht-e-Leili site where bodies are suspected to be buried, and the fact that at least four witnesses in this case have been tortured, killed or disappeared."

"Physicians for Human Rights applauds the US State Department's reported efforts to ensure that Dostum not return from exile in Turkey to assume a position of power in Afghanistan," stated Sirkin. "However, a full, formal and transparent investigation into the allegations against Dostum and the evidence that the Bush Administration impeded at least three federal probes into the case must be launched by the US and Afghanistan. Witnesses must be protected and the Dasht-e-Leili site must be secured."

Editors, please note: To access and use a new, online video by PHR ("War Crimes and the White House: The Bush Administration's Cover-Up of the Dasht-e-Leili Massacre"), and to obtain high-resolution photos courtesy of Physicians for Human Rights, please visit

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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