Afghanistan's leading human rights activist said Friday that President Hamid Karzai has fired him and two others from the government's own rights commission.
The claim came as the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission was working on a landmark report about abuses in the country. The United States and the European Union are worried that such violations, along with widespread corruption, are undermining their efforts to stabilize the nation and defeat the stubborn Taliban insurgency _ threatening their goal of crafting a strong central government to take over when NATO leaves.
Nader Nadery said Friday that he and two colleagues have been told of the decision to replace them, and that an official announcement would follow. "We have heard that we're being removed, but we haven't been notified yet," he said.
There was no immediate comment from Karzai's office.
Nadery is Afghanistan's most outspoken human rights advocate. He has been critical of electoral fraud, corruption, land grabs by the wealthy, and torture and killings of civilians by the warring sides.
Also dismissed from the nine-member body were Ahmad Fahim Hakim, who criticized fraud in the 2009 and 2010 elections, and Moulawee Ghulam Mohamad Ghareb, a cleric from Kandahar.
Karzai has been under increasing pressure by foreign donors to combat graft and improve respect for rule of law in Afghanistan.
Last year's near-collapse of Kabul Bank, once the nation's largest private lender, created economic and political turmoil, prompted the freezing of some international aid and became a symbol of the country's deep-rooted corruption. The case was seen by international donors as a test of government's pledges to root out patronage and graft and to show accountability to world financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
The human rights commission has been working on a 1,000-page report detailing human rights abuses in Afghanistan starting in 1978 and ending in 2001, when a U.S.-led effort ousted the Taliban regime. The report is said to be highly critical of some of the leaders of the mujahedeen, U.S.-backed Islamic guerrillas who fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The warlords, who remain prominent in government today, have angrily denied allegations of corruption and wholesale violence. Instead, they have insisted that they deserve a place of honor as holy soldiers, because they freed Afghanistan from the decade-long Soviet occupation in 1989.
The Independent Human Rights Commission was set up in 2002. Its members are appointed by the government.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.