The Afghan government on Friday released 164 members of Hizb-e-Islami from Bagram and Pul-e-Charkhi jails, members of the commission implementing the peace deal between Hizb-e-Islami and the government said on Friday.
However, some of those released from the jails claimed to be members of the Taliban.
Mohammad Afzal is one of the those released today. He served in the Afghan National Army (ANA) for eight years and later was arrested at Kabul airport for ties with the Taliban.
“I was given 20 years in prison. I spent 11 years, but I was granted freedom for the remaining 9 years under the (Hekmatyar--government agreement) process, and I came out,” said Mohammad Afzal, a resident of Nangarhar.
He claimed to have served in the Afghan National Army for eight years.
“I was serving in the army for eight years, then the incident happened and I was arrested,” added Mohammad Afzal.
Gul Rahman is another inmate who was also jailed for having ties with the Taliban.
He spent four years in jail.
“Not only for Muslims--peace is vital for the entire world. We always support peace,” said Gul Rahman.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hizb-e-Islami party, signed the peace agreement with the Afghan government in September 2016.
The process of releasing the prisoners was delayed for months after human rights organizations criticized the government for agreeing to the move, stating that the political prisoners had been involved in insurgency incidents that killed civilians.
Hizb-e-Islami claims that there are 3,000 of its members being held in Afghan prisons.
The prisoners were released based on a peace agreement signed between President Ashraf Ghani and Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in September 2016. Hekmatyar returned to the country after 20 years.
According to Article 11 of the peace agreement, after an assessment of their documents, all prisoners of Hizb-e-Islami who are accused of political and security crimes and are granted ‘the right of people’ – a legal term which is used for those who don’t carry any complaint from members of the public in a court.