Afzal Kohistani’s Brother Fears His Killers Will Eventually Kill All Members Of The Family
Brother of slain Kohistan video scandal’s whistleblower Afzal Kohistani, Bin Yasir, wrote an article for a local news website saying that he fears for his life as the people who killed his brother will not rest until they have finished the entire family.
“One day they will kill me too. I know it. They never forget. You have to believe me when I tell you, those men will not rest till we are dead. They won’t rest until they kill every member of our family. We will keep dying one after another. Why else would they target Afzal after seven years of the Kohistan incident? They never forget and they won’t. It is only a matter of time until they come after me. Till then, all I can do is keep raising my voice. Maybe it will be remembered after I am gone.”
The incident took place in 2012 when two boys and five girls, were murdered for ‘honour’ on the orders of a local jirga over a video in which they were seen dancing and singing at a wedding.
The non-segregated wedding had taken place in an extremely conservative village of Khyber Pakhtunkwa and according to locals, the youngsters had violated the tribal norms. The local jirga was convened by the girls’ families, which ordered that girls and boys in the video be killed.
Afzal Kohistani had brought the case to attention, prompting the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the matter. Three of Afzal’s brothers were killed by the girls’ tribesmen and last month Kohistani was shot dead in Abbottabad.
“Those men killed three of my brothers in 2013, while they were performing ablution at our house in Kohistan. Then, six years later, they killed Afzal Kohistani in Abbottabad. They came for Afzal on motorbikes and shot him at a close range. My nephew, who was sitting behind Afzal, survived. But the Station House Officer (SHO) of the Cantt Police Station locked him up too. I don’t know why. My nephew, a main witness of the murder, is still behind bars. Now, I am left. Maybe to continue Afzal’s battle,” Bin Yasir writes.
In the emotionally penned piece, Yasir goes on to state that the loss of Kohistani while being an emotional blow was a financial loss as well because he was the primary bread winner of the family.
“I have one other brother and three sisters. There are over 30 people in our house, including 22 children. Afzal was the only one who earned and fed us. He made money through cutting and selling wood. You see, our lands have been taken away by those men. They forced us to flee our homes in 2012. Now, we live with a local elder. He has been very kind to us by giving us shelter. But we can’t stay here forever. We have to feed ourselves and our children. We have to educate them.”
Afzal Kohistani’s murder was a security failure of the state, as the government failed to protect him despite the serious threats he was facing.
Yasir states that though the government has been providing security in form of four policeman, he doesn’t trust them to protect his or his family members’ lives. Plus the cost of housing and feeding them is an added burden for the ill-fated family.
“Recently, the government sent four policemen to guard us. They accompany us every time we have to travel to the capital city or a local court for hearings. But there is no space for these men to stay. We don’t have enough food to pass amongst ourselves, how do we feed them? Let me also tell you that I don’t trust the policemen. They can kill us too.”
Yasir goes on to write how even after seven years the incident continues to affect his as well as his family’s life, preventing them from living normally. He concludes the heartfelt article by appealing for a normal life for his children, and wonders why they as innocents are still suffering from the incident’s fallout.
“There are eight men behind bars right now, four of whom have confessed to killing the girls seen in the video. I want them prosecuted. I want the cases against them concluded. I want them to investigate and arrest the men who killed Afzal. I want my children’s homes back. I want them to be able to get an education and not live in fear.
It has been seven years. How much longer will we have to live like this? How much longer will we have to struggle for justice? We are not criminals. They are.”