An Afghan mother gives a face to the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism

An Afghan mother gives a face to the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism

A frail woman in black stands before hundreds of people and recounts the story of her family. Her six sons were killed after having their throat cut by the terrorist organisation ISIL in a brutal attack in rural Afghanistan. She hoped that no mother would have to go through what she went through.

Two roses.
The UN has designated 21 August as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. Photo: Laura Rantanen/MFA

Tuesday 21 August marks the first International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. The Afghan mother told her story earlier this month in Kabul in an event marking the UN’s new International Day of Remembrance and gave a face to the day.

The mother’s story touched even the most hardened people in the audience. It is impossible to understand such extreme violence.

Unfortunately, Afghanistan is filled with thousands of similar stories. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has announced that in the past nine years, nearly 65,000 civilians have been killed and injured in armed or terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. Of these, more than 23,000 were killed.

This year, already 1,700 civilians have lost their lives in Afghanistan. The real figures are much higher, since not all casualties are recorded in official registers.

Everyone in Afghanistan probably knows someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and became an unwilling pawn in the ideological power struggle burdening the country.

It is particularly alarming that ISIL’s activity has grown in Afghanistan. Only last week an ISIL suicide bomber killed young students preparing for university entrance exams in Kabul.

Tensions can be discharged far away from their source.

The International Day of Remembrance was created to pay tribute to the victims of terrorism and get people talking about how to root out terrorism. In an event organised by the AIHRC, UN Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov highlighted the international character of terrorism: tensions in seemingly faraway places can be discharged anywhere in the world as terrorist attacks.

Sima Samar gives a speech.
An event, marking the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, was organised in Kabul earlier this month. Sima Samar, Chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commissions, called for compensations for the victims. Photo: Lari Peltonen/MFA

AIHRC Chair Sima Samar focused in her address on the rights of the victims.  The most important thing for the victims and their families is to see justice done:

“Justice is not a rare jewel; instead it should be bread and butter for everyone,” Samar said.

Finland supports the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commissions and currently acts as its Assistant Chair.

Lari Peltonen

The author works as Counsellor at the Embassy of Finland in Kabul.

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terrorism