ThisDecember marks the 10-year anniversary of the “Convoy of Death.” During Operation Enduring Freedom inAfghanistan, 2,000 prisoners who had surrendered to the US and the AfghanNorthern Alliance were shot or suffocated to death in sealed truck containerswhile being transferred by Northern Alliance forces. The dead prisoners – someof who had been tortured – were then buried in a mass grave in a northernAfghanistan desert at Dasht-e-Leili.
In2002, PHR discovered the mass graves and since then has led advocacy and investigations into the Dasht-e-Leili massacre. Evidence andeye-witness accounts revealed that several sealed containers held hundreds ofmen each, and that when the men, stacked like plywood in the containers, begancrying out for air and water, holes were shot into the sides of the metal containers,killing many inside.
AhmatAbdulahad, an ethnic Uighur released from Guantanamo to the Republic of Palau,recounts the horror:
"With an open wound on my leg, I was packed into a shipping container withhundreds of men. I could hardly breathe. My leg was losingblood. I thought I was going to die. The men in my container werebeating on the walls, begging for mercy. Others were dying. I was prayingfor my life. When we reached Sheberghan, many of the men in my container weredead."
"I wish I could forget this harrowing experience, but these are memories Ican never forget."
PHRwill not forget the hundreds of men who suffered or the need for justice. For thepast 10 years, PHR has called on both the Bush and ObamaAdministrations to investigate what happened at Dasht-e-Leili and to holdaccountable the people who committed these crimes. Instead of providinganswers, the Bush Administration reportedly impeded at least three federal probes into the massacre. In 2009, during an interview by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, President Obama promised to ask hisnational security team to investigate the alleged war crimes and cover up. Howeverdespite significant news coverage and PHR’s repeated requests seeking answers, President Obama hasnever made public the results of the investigation.
PHRcalls upon President Obama to issue a public statement as to who is responsible for themassacre, whether US troops were involved, or whether any US officials hadsought to prevent an investigation of these events. It has been 10 years andstill we have no answers. The US should lead, rather than ignore, the effort tofind them.